Image Source: Edward Musiak
Marketing can be expensive and often, unpredictable. The most successful marketers and teams set clear, crisp goals, develop smart strategies, and experiment with different tactics. But even then, many campaigns fail to return the money marketers invest on marketing efforts.
I’ve previously written about lean marketing – testing your ideas in small batches, listening to feedback, tweaking campaigns, and re-testing. There’s another important concept that complements lean marketing: marketing velocity.
Marketing velocity is the speed at which marketing efforts deliver measurable results. You can accelerate marketing velocity with various enabling technologies like marketing automation, CRM and other tools and techniques. But at the end of the day, the true measure of marketing velocity is the speed with which you develop your goals, set strategy and most importantly, deploy tactics.
Keep in mind that marketing velocity and agility are two distinctly different concepts. Velocity is about doing things faster. Agility is about testing in small-batches, listening/measuring outcomes, tweaking and re-testing.
Why should you care about marketing velocity?
The answer is deceptively simple: speed matters. Until you actually deploy your marketing tactics, you learn nothing. You can spend months strategizing, developing theories, creating collateral, etc. But real testing doesn’t begin until you actually market.
If your competitors are able to set their goals, develop strategies and deploy marketing campaigns at a faster velocity than you can muster, you will never be able to beat them in the market unless your strategies and tactics are materially better. Even if your strategies and tactics are better, you’ll still need to deploy them at a reasonable pace. After all, there are many good tools that allow marketers to track, measure and turn-around real time insights about their marketing efforts. The best marketers can make adjustments and tweak their strategies in near real-time. If your competitors are doing so and you’re not, you’re already falling behind. Ultimately, you need marketing that moves at the speed of ideas.
Here are three tips to help you improve your team’s marketing velocity:
1. Create a solid foundation for success.
It’s tempting to simply pick up the pace of your marketing tactics and assume that your marketing velocity will naturally increase. Before you do so, you need to develop a clear set of goals. After all, doing something faster, without a clear goal, is pointless.
Goals shouldn’t be easily achievable – but they should be realistic. This is where many marketing teams fail.
At least in my experience, it’s counter-productive to have many goals tied to a specific strategy. You can have many different strategies, and different goals associated with each strategy. But you should not have more than a few well-defined goals for each strategy. In the past, when we’ve set many goals for a single strategy, we found that the results were often noisy and non-actionable. It was too easy to meet some of the goals, but difficult to meet others. This noise led to indecisiveness and ultimately prevented us from learning and tweaking our marketing strategies and tactics.
Your goals should be directly connected to your key business objectives. If there’s no direct connection, you’re merely creating and increasing noise. If you choose more than 1 or 2 core goals, you’ll mostly distract yourself and your team.
For example, few businesses will benefit from increasing their audience on Facebook or getting more shares or “likes” there. Likes, impressions, page views – these are mostly vanity metrics that don’t produce tangible business outcomes. Such metrics might be relevant to growing an already established brand (although even for established brands, those are mostly vanity metrics), but they are rarely helpful to startups and small businesses.
Kissmetrics has a terrific post exploring how different marketing teams set goals.
Once you’ve defined a clear set of goals, develop strategies intended to meet each goal. Here are a few good reads on building marketing strategies: Building Online Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses from Moz, Gear Up Your Small Business Marketing for 2017 from Melinda Emerson, 5 Steps to Creating a Killer Marketing Strategy from Peter Daisyme.
2. Test in small batches.
Instead of investing weeks or even months to plan and research, develop your untested assumptions and quickly test those assumptions.
For example, do not commit to a three month email drip-marketing campaign that takes you one month to implement. Instead, set-up one to two week mini-tests that you can deploy within 1 or 2 days. For example, here are some quick and simple tactics you can test during the holiday season.
If your experiments fail, don’t worry — this is normal. Many of the marketing tactics we try at crowdSPRING fail. But it’s better to fail with campaigns that take 1 or 2 days to create than with campaigns that took you months to develop. This is where marketing velocity can truly help you.
3. Be prepared to change gears quickly.
As I mentioned above, most marketing tactics fall flat or fail. But if you’re smart about testing in small batches, failures can lead to incremental success. For example, if you run a short email marketing campaign that you deploy within a few days, you can assess open rates, click rates, and A/B test subject lines, images, etc. When you run your second email marketing campaign the following week, you’ve already gathered valuable insights that help you to tweak and to improve the follow-up campaign. If you keep iterating in this fashion, each successive campaign will build on what you learn from the prior campaigns, This way, you improve the odds that you will meet your marketing goal(s).
Compare this with a team that spends a month building a deep drip-marketing campaign. During that month, they’ll learn nothing actionable. In fact, they won’t start learning until they deploy their campaign.
Ultimately, keep in mind that when you invest a majority of your marketing time, efforts and budget into developing strategies and tactics (rather than executing them), you make a gamble that your strategies and tactics will actually succeed. This is a sucker’s bet because most marketing strategies fail. Increase your marketing velocity and you’ll put yourself and your company in a much better position to succeed. Execution is everything.
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