The scary thing about these two words is that most Marketing leaders reading this blog know another Exec who has recently been fired (as the Marketing Consigliere likes to say, “got whacked.”) or is worrying about getting whacked themselves. We all know the stat – the average CMO tenure is less than two years, perhaps give or take a few months. And for companies too small to have a CMO, nevertheless someone there will have an itchy finger pointed at them also. Downsizing just isn’t fun.
This is no ordinary economic downturn; the macro events occurring are omens of fundamental institutional transformations yet to come. There are several things you can do to mitigate the risk of losing your Marketing position; likewise you can do some of these things in parallel to keep your career advancing elsewhere.
I. Embrace SaaS-Based CRM Tools
Sales is driven by Marketing which is driven by Data. And SaaS based CRM tools are the best place to house that data. If you don’t have CRM implemented yet, do it. If you already have it, embrace it more. Make sure it is truly adopted by the Enterprise, not just the sales people – you’re paying too much to let it be a glorified SFA tool. Many of the leading CRM tools out there like Salesforce, NetSuite, and SugarCRM have ecosystems of third party applications that increase the ROI out of the platform. Take a look at Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Oracle on Demand, in addition to some of the CRM tools out there that are vertical-specific. Make sure that your involvement in controlling the data is not relinquished to some IT minion who does not prioritize the needs of Marketing.
If you’re looking for work or a solo or small business marketer, you may want to take a look at Zoho. It has the look and feel like the big boy CRM tools but the first 3 licenses are free. So if you’ve been used to Salesforce and suddenly get whacked, unlike the gentlemen in the picture above, you can dust yourself off, launch Zoho, and start keeping track of prospects, whether they be potential employers or customers.
II. Leverage Additional Net-Centric Demand Generation Tools and Techniques.
If you are not using email tools like ExactTarget or VerticalResponse, or even more advanced lead scoring tools like Eloqua, your organization is probably behind the eight ball on its ability to move data in from and out to customers. In this day and age there are so many datapoints to consider regarding customer behavior that you need to automate. It’s only going to get more complicated given the increasing amount of things that are being tracked on systems.
For smaller organizations, I’ve heard Pardot referred to as a “Poor Man’s Eloqua” that performs very satisfactorily; and for individuals on their own, vendors like iContact and Constant Contact can help make you look like a bigger company than just one person.
To complete your CRM & campaign tools, you’ll need a landing page solution (which some of these tools include) that can be optimized to increase the probability of conversion and integrates back into the CRM tool. Make sure that you have extensive knowledge of all the “moving parts” to a campaign and are in control of the entire process because it is the lifeblood of your firm.
III. Adopt Social Network Tools to Have Conversation with Your Audience
If Sales is driven by Marketing which is driven by Data, then what drives Data? Conversation. An ongoing dialogue with your prospects and customers will build trust and educate your team over time. While most organizations may be backing off from getting on the Ning bandwagon and creating their own social network, you can still participate in the many “open” social networks that are out there like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
Needless to say, as an individual, you should probably be on all of these if not already. And if you don’t understand Twitter, give it a try anyway. Just be careful what you say; everything you post in all these networks contributes to the definition of your “brand.”
IV. Stay Calm
Many of us have worked for those rush-to-judgment “Type A’s” out there whose erratic behavior and unrealistic expectations are projections of their insecurities. No matter what pressure they’re putting on you, the laws of physics and marketing are still applicable in your organization. You have to sleep, you have to plan and execute marketing campaigns wisely and consistently, and you have to keep an even keel while doing so. You need to communicate matter-of-factly and not sugarcoat the situation. Professionals are defined by their ability to objectively approach work and weather all storms. Don’t let the toxicity get to you and by no means let any of that toxicity go with you when you eventually leave. And most importantly, feel confident in your mastery of the above.
The Marketing Consigliere regrets seeing anyone whacked that could have avoided it; while its usually “just business,” it does have a sting. Being indispensible to the organization is the key and the ability to be more efficient and grow revenue with the new net-centric Marketing tools out there will keep you that way. And understand you will have think “entrepreneurship” to survive on your own in a Web 2.0 way until these uncertain times clear.