For a CEO and senior executives, there are three reasons why it pays to act on your intuitive sense to slow down the train as a conductor would when approaching a sharp curve:
"Who do we talk to?" This seems like an obvious question that should result in an obvious answer - right? Part of the discomfort you've been having is a result of watching your staff struggle to answer this question. You witness the discourse and arguments that is happening during a contentious staff meeting. This begs the question: "how well do we know our buyers?" The reality is that most companies may not know them very well if they have not invested in buyer insight. Choosing tactical initiatives becomes something of a blind date. You really don't know who you are reaching until you actually reach them. And sometimes, you know you definitely reached the wrong person. Do you know your buyers well enough to define your target buyer personas - an archetypal representation of the buyers you want to market to? Not just made up stuff or profiles but real buyer personas based on qualitative insight from real buyers. If your organization struggles in this area, then investing in buyer insight and buyer personas is probably one of the single most important "decisions" you can make.
Pick up any business magazine, newspaper, or go to any business information web site right now and the rage is social media, demand generation, marketing automation, email marketing, and a gluttony of other hot topics. You set up your Google Reader and know it is information overload. You wonder how I can possibly keep up! And - you ask if you should be doing any or all of these. Any one or combination of these tactical approaches can make up the components of an overall marketing strategy. Informed by insight and buyer personas, your organization can adapt market strategies that map to buyer goals and behaviors. For example, you discover that your buyer personas do not respond well to email campaigns but require in-depth content. Such a discovery helps you and your team to adapt market strategies and become more relevant to your buyers. Assessing and adapting market strategies are critical elements to making the right choices on tactical initiatives - especially new evolving tactics of marketing automation - which can be elements of a cohesive well thought out digital marketing strategy.
Decisions to implement a form of automation whether it is sales force, marketing, demand generation, and etc. can be an expensive proposition fraught with risk. For some senior executives, there may be that queasy feeling in their stomach about the CRM or SFA project that went south - as in way south of the border past Mexico. While the urgency to grow top line revenues is ever present, the last thing needed right now is to see a chunk of dollars dripping out of the bottom line with nothing to show for it. Investing in buyer insights, buyer personas, buyer experience strategy, and building teams who understand buyers at the deepest levels significantly reduces the risk of implementation woes. Automating bad strategy, bad tactics, and creating a "spinning wheel" of continuous changes only accelerates failure like a runaway train. Helping to create a perpetual black cloud over the organization that may be difficult to recover from let alone restore sustainability.
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