Good marketing is meant to focus on the different aspects of a target audience's needs, objectives, and challenges already, isn't it? So if that's already well known, why the hell am I writing about this?
It's a fair question, and one I'm hoping to open your eyes to.
Good marketing is most certainly meant to focus on the needs, objectives, and challenges (NOC) of its target audience, whether that be prospects or current customers but great marketing should be focusing on the NOC of all parties connected to the business - both external and internal.
While your marketing campaigns and department's structure may already be targeting your personas with custom content and actions using their NOC's, have you ever considered how your marketing and interdepartmental structure can be improved and expanded to drive even greater results? What if you were to also consider the various NOC's that your own organization has regarding your marketing? What could you do differently to help the sales team fulfill their needs, reach their objectives and overcome their challenges? What about for your executive team? Your customer support team?
The modern marketing department is in an extremely unique position within organizations today. Not only is it being leaned on more heavily to drive the necessary revenue to achieve growth but it's also more well equipped with the necessary tool set to help create a more interconnected and efficient organization. Knowing this, it is no longer good enough for a marketing team to simply focus on the NOC's of their prospect and customer personas. With this newly found place within the organization's hierarchy, the marketing department has the responsibility to consider the NOC's of both external parties (Prospects and Customers) and internal parties (Executives, Sales, and Customer Support) to create even more powerful marketing campaigns and more integrated departments and systems.
Such a major shift in a department's paradigm requires understanding and direction to fully embrace. Here are a few things that you and your department should consider regarding the different parties that you can and should effect.
As alluded to earlier, marketing generally already pays close attention to the NOC's of external parties including prospective customers and current ones. Still, it's important to consider refining your view of what is most important to these parties in order to help create more effective campaigns moving forward.
This exercise should not be new to you in regards to understanding your prospective customers' needs, objectives and challenges. If you've established detailed persona profiles for these prospects, you should already have everything needed here documented. No matter if you have everything documented or not, consider the following questions:
Needs: What do your prospective customers need from you in order to be successful within their roles?
Objectives: What are your prospective's main goals set or given to them within their roles?
Challenges: What's holding them back from being able to meet their objectives within their roles or environment?
How Marketing Can Help:
- Create content around the above listed items. If people have challenges, they're probably looking for solutions to them online. Create content that answers these questions, shows that you understand their objectives and provides solutions that fit their needs.
- Make it easy to find and consume. Optimize your content so that they can be found on search engines and create a site structure and resource center that is intuitive to navigate and built with the reader in mind.
- Use marketing automation to create workflows (both external and internal). Nurturing workflows that provide helpful next steps and checkpoints allow for unique and customizeable interactions between you and your prospects. If you truly understand their NOCs then you'll be able to connect with them through these interactions better than others.
While many marketing departments focus a portion of their efforts to continued communication with their current customer-set, it's not always done. Depending on whether or not your organization is able to provide/sell more to customers after they've initially purchased from you, your opportunity to market to them may be limited but that doesn't mean that you can't perform other actions within your department to help establish a better customer experience.
Needs: What needs is your product/solution solving? How? Can anything be improved?
Objectives: What goals are your customers ultimately trying to reach? How does your product/service fit in? Can you continue to help them reach these objectives through training, education or guidance after the sale?
Challenges: What is holding your customer back from reaching their objectives? Does your product/service help address these challenges? What can you do more of to help address these challenges?
How Marketing Can Help:
- Establish a support ecosystem. Today's consumer has a higher level of expectations surrounding the support that a company provides them. In order to truly consider a modern customer's NOCs, a company should consider providing support in a wide variety of ways they may want/need, including online knowledge bases/FAQs, web chat functionality, support ticketing via email or phone, and social media support.
For many, partnering with other internal organizational elements does not fall within the marketing department's general set of roles and responsibilities. Sure, a department may need your help in a one-off project from time to time but for the most part these people don't take up a large amount of your head space for an extended period of time. Well they should. Understanding the NOC's of internal parties such as your executive team, your sales team and your customer support team can have an incredibly powerful effect on what you market, how you market and how you work together internally to create a more effective and efficient campaign and organization overall.
Most marketing activity should already have the executive team's NOC's all over it since it's normally the role of these leaders to set the goals and vision for the company and its departments. With that said, there is much more that an organization's marketing department can do once the specific needs, objectives and challenges of an executive team are understood.
Needs: How can you and your department help take as much off your executive team's plates while focusing on the most important areas for them?
Objectives: What are your executive team's (and most likely organization's) goals? What are the things that are most important to them?
Challenges: What are the things that making it hard for your executive team to do their jobs? What roadblocks do they currently face? Is there something you can do to help them with this?
How Marketing Can Help:
- Build marketing campaigns focused on key organizational goals. This seems pretty straight forward because it is. Still, you'd be surprised at how often marketing campaigns lose sight of their goals, instead focusing on less important, less impactful performance indicators and goals. Begin your campaigns and years working with your executive team to understand and then target key goals, whether they be revenue, profit or even product line-related.
- Create closed-loop reporting. Ultimately, most executive teams want visibility into the key metrics and data that showcase and attribute what areas of the business are effective, efficient and profitable. From a marketing standpoint, connecting your marketing automation system with sales' CRM to create closed-loop reporting and attribution will give your executive team visibility into what is and isn't working within revenue generation activities, making it easier for them to make more informed business decisions for the organization.
- Build executive-level business dashboards. For most businesses, getting high-level visibility into the various areas of a business normally means sifting through stacks of reports or putting together and keeping an endless maze or spreadsheets. With new technologies becoming available, building, connecting and visualizing executive-level business dashboards has become much easier and affordable compared to more enterprise-level solutions. With marketing and sales most likely making up a large portion of your organization's data collection and reporting stack (outside areas such as finance), the initiative shown by the marketing department will be received well by your executive team if a dashboard solution set can be built out to help give at-a-glance, up-to-the-minute reporting to help them keep a finger on the pulse of the business.
If you've been reading any digital marketing resources online for the past few years, you'll have already seen the need for marketing and sales alignment as a major trend within the industry. As you may already know and agree with, it makes a lot of sense to have a close connection with your sales team as a marketer. Your department's end goal is to provide support to theirs through lead generation but what else could be done to help sales better close leads once you've handed them over?
Needs: What can marketing do to help make sales more effective and efficient?
Objectives: What are the key sales goals that your team has been tasked to hit and how can marketing help them hit these goals (outside of the obvious lead-generation factor)?
Challenges: Where in the sales process is the sales team struggling most? Are there internal processes or technologies that can be shared between the marketing and sales department?
How Marketing Can Help:
- Build targeted, sales-specific marketing campaigns. Much like the notes provided for prospective customers, the idea of a marketing campaign being built with sales goals in mind seems elementary yet so many teams forget this. Building marketing campaigns focused on the key departmental goals that sales has, whether its targeting a specific industry, pushing a certain product line or focusing on a particular buyer, will give you direction while building a relationship with your sales team that will lead to better results for the organization.
- Establish a greater level of communication with sales. The connection between marketing activity and sales goals and results is quite clear in most organizations and because of that, a direct line of communication should most certainly be a high priority for both departments. Whether it's a weekly cadence for updates on campaign activity, feedback gathering sessions to learn what is and isn't working between different projects or just continued learning opportunities around the sales process and interactions with prospects, communication between teams can provide a number of great benefits for both sides.
- Integrate marketing automation and sales CRM systems. While an integration between marketing and sales systems is a great way to better track and attribute successes from the departments' different campaigns, it's also a great way for the two teams and their technologies to share useful information that can help in the sale of more prospects. Not only will your marketing team be able to better pass off new lead information to your sales team but you will also be able to provide new tools and the ability to automate sales processes to ultimately make both teams more efficient and effective.
Customer Support Team
Often times an organization spends a large amount of time establishing a consistent path for a prospect to become a customer through their interactions with its marketing and sales campaigns. While this is a great thing to execute, if the next phase of the customer's journey working with the success and support team doesn't meet the expectations for consistency and continuity established in previous steps, you could be hurting your chances for retention. Understanding what your customer support team's key goals and action items are can help you build a more sophisticated system that can ultimately help all internal parties better understand where the organization stands with all current customers.
Needs: What can you do to make your customer support team's lives easier, more connected and streamlined when working with customers?
Objectives: What are the key goals and metrics that your support team is tasked with and measured against? How can you make progress better visible and activities more focused on these goals?
Challenges: What does your support team deal with on a daily basis that can supported better by you and your team? What part of their job takes up the most time yet provides the least amount of value in terms of reaching their goals?
How Marketing Can Help:
- Build a support ecosystem. As noted above in the customers section, modern consumers want to be able to find support for their issues in different places and formats. While it may be the responsibility of the support team to fulfill these support requests, the marketing department can most certainly help build a system in which customer support materials can be built, housed and properly promoted so that support can be more effective and efficient as they look to cover more ground.
- Connect marketing automation and support tools to share customer information. One of the greatest levels of continuity required within an organization is required by the support team when working with a customer. Not only does the customer expect that their issue be resolved but they also want it to be done so by a technician who has context from previous communications and actions with them. This level of context is not attained without a highly connected system that provide the necessary amount of detail and insight on individual customers, allowing the support team to provide a higher level of support.
- Automate support activities. Not all support activities are created equal and when a support team regularly spends time on issues that can more simply be resolved by the customer with limited guidance that means more pressing items are being left on hold. To help the support team become more efficient and effective while gaining higher levels of insight on different areas of their role and support ecosystem (knowledge base usage metrics, support feedback collection, etc.), the automation of lower level support activities can make a huge difference.
It's beginning to be better understand that the most successful organizations are the ones that are breaking down the walls between their different departments. Companies that see the value in connecting the needs, objectives and challenges of all parties involved within the business, both external and internal, are finding more success connecting with their constituents and creating more powerful solutions for all involved. While the first step in making this shift happens between the ears of the organization's leaders and within the culture, the increase in integrateable technology has enabled these trendsetters to bring their vision to life.
If you're sitting within an organization who believes that marketing should be off doing its own thing, only thinking about the customer then you have some rethinking to do. If you're unsure how to drive such a massive shift in thinking, process and technology within your organization, we can help. Our team at Revenue River is driven by the idea that the modern organization must connect the dots between the various parties connected to the business through strategy, process and technology.