Now that I have your attention…
It’s about that time of year when industry news is flooded with predictions and teams are heads-down planning for the upcoming year. With this pesky tech recession still hanging on, everyone is looking for the equivalent of Marketing Ozempic - a daily pill that sends leads hurling enthusiastically through the funnel into the arms of your sellers. The Must-Have-SaaS that fine-tunes your marketing engine to completely eliminate your funnel’s sticky and leaky spots. The Silver Demand Bullet – one shot and your prospects go from completely unaware to ready to sign on the dotted line!
Well I’m sorry to be the Marketing Grinch, but there isn’t one.
I was at a TechStars office a few weeks ago, and a super early-stage marketing AI solution founder was asking me about how we use AI and explaining how it’s going to turn our agency on its head. And I’m sure it will, eventually. But in my experience, there is no silver bullet. You have to do your homework. I’m talking about messaging and positioning, personas, channel alignment, editorial and campaign calendars, pragmatic reporting. Un-sexy stuff like that. It’s that kind of thought capital that you need in order to build a sound marketing strategy. You have to get your fundamentals nailed down before you can think about a fancy solution that’s expensive to buy, time-consuming to implement, distracting for your team, and produces marginal results because it’s built on a house of cards since you still don’t have your homework done. You need to have your foundational elements fully baked so you can plug them into that tool to give it a fighting chance. And it’s not just the budget that you’re throwing away; it’s your attention. It’s your team’s attention. It’s the opportunity cost of your brain focused on a new tool vs what else it could have been focused on. It’s not just about the money.
Raise your hand - how many of you, right now, are paying a monthly fee for some marketing tool that you never fully set up? (Full disclosure - my hand is up!) I bet the vast majority of marketing leaders are paying for something we thought was going to change the game, but still haven’t had the time or mental energy to dedicate to standing it up. It was never a squeaky enough wheel to bubble up to the top of the to-do list. It was one of those projects that ran into a roadblock, which sent you down a rabbit hole straight into another roadblock, then a hard right in a different direction to try to solve a third problem. Wait, what was the original assignment?
So how do you get the proverbial house in order? Here’s one of the tools we use to do it: This template aligns the buyer journey with the marketing strategy. It breaks down the buyer’s journey stages, and aligns the marketing questions that we need to answer in each. And remember: the buyer’s journey has absolutely nothing to do with you, your product, your offering, or your clever marketing campaigns. It has to do with the buyer’s problem and how they are going to solve it. Hopefully, your product or solution aligns with what they need – we can’t help you with that. But this framework will help you align the two, and layer on the marketing channels to meet buyers at the different stages of that journey. I use it every time I have to build a marketing strategy from scratch, and it’s hard. But this, along with foundational work like messaging and positioning frameworks, content strategies, and personas will give you the sound beginnings of any other marketing work you need to do. Once you have these things done, then go look for a fancy tool that can help you streamline or automate or make it more efficient.
I’ve been on a few marketing podcasts lately, and everyone’s hot question is: what is your top tool? Trust me, we’ve used them all. We’ve sat through demos of every piece of marketing software there is. We’ve used them with clients, we’ve tried them ourselves. And at the end of the day, my favorite marketing tools are: Google Suite and Slack. That’s it. That’s all you need. You can certainly use all those other tools, and we have clients who are paying tens of thousands of dollars a year for bloated tech stacks. I’d dare say that the majority of them are over-SaaS’ed. Maybe the extra tools add marginal value, but very few are delivering equivalent value when compared to what they cost in budget, time, and attention. Instead, hire smart people, do the homework, collaborate, and be relentless about getting to the right answer, not the easy answer.
Most of you know that I am an avid horse rider. When I was a kid, there was a brand of saddle soap that came in a little tin, and on the side it said: “Do it now and do it properly.” (To this day I’m pretty persnickety about clean riding equipment!) This has become my absolute favorite life mantra, and it applies here. Do your homework, sit in on sales calls, listen to your customers, learn the industry, make sure you know the customer’s pain points inside, out, and backwards. Figure out how your solution is making their lives easier, faster, better, more efficient, or whatever your value prop is. Then go find software to help you eliminate manual, repetitive tasks, or reporting, or production - those are places where I think marketing tools are great. But most of the tools on the market today are trying to replace good, sound marketing strategy, and it’s just not one-size-fits all. Most products aren’t that easy to market in the B2B world.
So much for silver bullets. But hey, you still have a month left in 2023 to set up next year for runaway success! Let us know if you need a hand. We have tons of free templates - including the one I mentioned above - in the Resource section of wheelsupcollective.com.