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Overcome Data-Driven Agile Marketing Shortfalls

Many CMOs will proudly tell you that their organizations are data-driven -- meaning they make their marketing investment decisions based upon the data that's captured and reported in one or more analytics platforms. But there are significant consequences from the application of this approach. Let's consider the findings of a recent market study and look at the implications.

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing rapid change on brands. Marketing leaders believe that a lack of agility and flexibility negatively impacts their marketing execution, according to a Gartner study.

To remedy this, the study uncovered that 38 percent of marketing leaders report “developed scenarios for planning purposes” as one of the top operational steps they’ve taken to manage a business disruption.

Study the Data, React to the Trends

"One key element of effectively building and planning scenarios is data," said Lizzy Foo Kune, senior director analyst at Gartner. "Marketing leaders look to data and analytics teams to offer insight into current trends and uncertainties to avoid making errors in decision making and help chart a clear way forward."

But under the present circumstances, data and analytics teams are strained to deliver against expectations and need to develop new ways of thinking. In particular, it's difficult to adapt to change and transform go-to-market strategies by merely looking for solutions in marketing dashboards.

That said, to streamline analytics efficiencies and enable a rapid strategic response, Gartner recommends that marketing analytics teams take the following three actions:

Adopt lean principles to guide efficient analytics and insights functions

To efficiently manage data and insight requests, draw from the lean framework that has become prevalent in the manufacturing and startup industries. Defined as a production optimization methodology that eliminates activities that do not create value for customers, 'lean' describes seven categories of possible waste. The most important categories to focus on minimizing waste are overproduction, processing and inventory.

Prioritize requests to deliver data and insights faster

The pressure to deliver more insights more quickly has increased exponentially due to disruption from COVID-19. "To meet this demand, marketing leaders must identify what truly matters most, create a short set of criteria to prioritize each request and identify how best to address it. The criteria used should be objective and measurable," said Ms. Foo Kune.

Embrace agile principles to guide teams through uncertainty

Use agile work practices, including project sprints and frequent status checks, to foster a culture of collaboration. A time-boxed effort called a 'sprint', fosters a flexible environment for experimentation and innovation while also ensuring that the data team is capable of pivoting in new directions as business needs and priorities change.

I have a somewhat different perspective. Accelerating the speed of access to data isn't a viable solution to current market development shortfalls. Historical data is of limited value during a significant market disruption. Moreover, agile marketing practices tend to drive marketers to focus more on busy-work activity, and less on a thoughtful assessment of the challenges and opportunities.

How to Envision the Future Without Historical Bias

While I have an appreciation for action and execution in response to a declining sales pipeline, I also value the notion that it's advisable to invest the time and effort to determine if 'more of the same' type of activity is a wise marketing investment. In the B2B space, it's particularly important to pause and consider the alternative options.

As an example, in the Information Technology (IT) sector, we've seen the rise of buyer's committees and self-directed research and discovery. C-suite decision-makers and influencers have a common cause, but often a different need for better information and guidance during the buyer's journey. Providing more of the same product-centered content delivered in the same under-performing manner is illogical.

Furthermore, traditional B2B organizations typically view Buyer Enablement and Sales Enablement in isolation. Much of the attention is focused on helping a salesperson sell, with less attention to helping a buyer self-discover the information and guidance they need to progress. Given the amount of time that's devoted to discovery in the complex technology procurement process, improving the 'buyer progression' outcome can often deliver a greater impact than addressing 'sales progression' issues.

I'm currently researching the cohesive integration of B2B Buyer and Sales Enablement into what I'm calling '360 Degree Enablement' methodologies. I'll provide more insight into this topic, and how to remove legacy bias from the process of adapting to different information and guidance needs of key executive personas.

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