A 4-step Marketing Transformation Framework
- Marketing transformation shifts marketing from a support organization to one of the company's two primary revenue contributors.
- But transformation is elusive. It does not occur based on ill-defined strategies, random processes, or piecemeal technologies. It also does not occur by enhancing the status quo.
- Research shows that transformation occurs by applying a proven and repeatable framework and disrupting business as usual. It's best done with the adoption of evidence-based best practices that deliver order of magnitude improvements.
A Repeatable Marketing Transformation Framework
When marketing seeks to shift from incremental advancements to order of magnitude improvements, a transformation is needed.
We know from the research published in the Marketing Transformation Report that the Best-in-Class Marketers (i.e., the top 15 percent) achieved their linear performance results by focusing on four overarching performance objectives. They also applied a combination of best practices, technology automation and relentless measurement to achieve those performance objectives.
We've applied this research and refined the Johnny Grow Marketing Transformation Framework for more than two decades. It's a replicable 4-step process illustrated below.
Start with Strategy
A transformation starts with a strategy that defines a calculated path to achieve specific and measurable objectives in the shortest time or least cost.
Marketing strategies are neither easy or consistent. Sometimes they are designed for incremental growth and include things like changing the product mix, running new campaigns, or expanding a customer target market.
Other times marketing strategies are more transformational and include things like growing the brand, disrupting a market, launching innovative products, growing into new territories, capturing new revenue streams, growing by acquisition, driving a Customer Experience program or leading a digital marketing transformation.
And there are times they can be either, such as when creating new alliances or platform ecosystems, expanding through new distribution channels, shifting from a product-centric to customer-centric culture or increasing the amount revenue sourced by marketing.
Some people bypass strategies because they take a lot of up-front time. That may be somewhat true but is also short sighted. The thing about strategies is that they deliver substantial time savings.
The hours invested to plan the optimal route to the most important business outcomes will save months in execution time. When I build a marketing strategy, I'm reminded of Abe Lincoln's quote, "If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first four hours sharpening the axe."
Other people avoid strategies because they end with up with broad, generic or esoteric documents that don't lend themselves to planned and measured execution. These are the strategies that get a once-over and are then filed away.
What's needed are prescriptive strategies that show how to achieve specific and measurable goals.
Our transformation framework designs the marketing strategy with an artifact we call the Strategy Blueprint. It's a one-page summary view of exactly what needs to happen to achieve order of magnitude results.
The Strategy Blueprint is a data-driven calculated approach displayed as a value chain model. It starts with the headline goal and identifies specific best practices to support the chosen strategies. It then applies industry benchmark data to drive the metrics and conversions that calculate forecasted payback.
The Blueprint evidence-based best practices and metrics are what makes the Marketing Strategy measurable and predictive.
When strategies are clear and communicated, they identify what's important and where the company will invest its limited time and money. That also means anything that doesn't directly contribute to the strategy is a distraction. A good strategy is equally valuable in showing what not to do.
Reaching any new destination is best done with a map. You need to understand where you are starting, where you want to go, and invest in some planning to plot the shortest route to get there. Your marketing strategy is the roadmap that identifies that route.
Marketers who develop an integrated marketing strategy will deliver a 50% higher return on marketing investment (ROMI) than those who do not. – Gartner
Plan for Systemic Execution
Marketing execution is organized in a Marketing Plan.
Some marketers are unclear on a marketing plan versus marketing strategy.
Once the strategy identifies the most direct path to the top goals, the Plan shows how to navigate that path with sequenced actions. It calculates, schedules and manages the investments, resources, best practices and actions needed to succeed.
The best marketing plans are created on a 3-tier architecture that shows how tactics impact strategies and how strategies deliver the business goal. The below example shows the hierarchy to achieve a Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) goal.
In the absence of a plan, marketers are without prioritization, work lacks purpose and execution is haphazard. It's still possible to reach the goal, but at best, it will take longer and cost more.
But the challenge is deciding what actions to put into the plan. There's a virtually unlimited number of tactics to choose from. And their selection will either drive, delay or deviate the strategy through action.
The research shows that the top performers implement a marketing plan consisting of a mix of 9 evidence-based best practices.
The exact combination will depend on the goals identified in the strategy. For example, if increasing marketing sourced revenue is a top strategy, then the most influential best practices will include revenue engineering, lead management and a Sales and Marketing Alignment Service Level Agreement (SLA).
The best practices must also be accompanied by enabling technologies and measured reporting as illustrated in the below diagram.
Fully Leverage MarTech
Marketing Technology (MarTech) is essential to transformation. However, while the MarTech landscape can appear infinite, budgets are finite. And adoption of MarTech requires a proper implementation which is no small effort.
For most companies, technology adoption is an incremental journey that starts by maximizing what you already have.
That said, it is likely additional technology can drive improved process automation, information reporting and scale.
The challenge is to filter through a sea of technologies to find those that deliver the biggest impact.
A marketing technology research report did just that and separated MarTech based on impact. The research initially found that what separated the most and least effective marketing technologies was less about the actual technologies and more about how they were designed and implemented, which goes back to the original point that a proper MarTech implementation is no small effort.
However, when the research was filtered by performance archetype and measured impact, the most effective MarTech became clear, and is illustrated the below red box.
Apply Marketing Analytics
There are two types of information reporting that most influence the achievement of transformational objectives.
Dashboards are the top delivery tool to get the right information to the right person at the right time. However, there are two challenges.
The first is measuring what matters. Most marketing automation platform (MAP) and CRM systems don't include the metrics that drive transformation.
For example, most don't calculate or display ROMI, customer lifetime value (CLV), customer satisfaction (CSAT), account engagement (AES), lead leakage, lead conversion rate, sales win rate, forecast accuracy, account health score and many more that clearly drive important objectives.
So, you will need to create essential key performance indicators (KPIs) yourself. The effort to create custom KPIs in your MAP or CRM is generally not difficult.
The second challenge is to shift information from being merely interesting to inducing action.
Power is created from action, not visibility. Simply displaying KPIs in a dashboard falls short of inducing action. However, when dashboard KPIs are aligned with objectives, compared to benchmarks, linked to playbooks, or integrated with next-best-actions, the information drives action.
The dashboard KPI isn't the goal. It's a recommendation for action. Action is the goal.
The point here is that the goal of dashboards isn't to view data. It's to act on data in order to fix a variance, improve a customer experience or increase a business outcome.
To continue the earlier cited example of adopting lead management improvements to increase marketing sourced revenue contribution, you will need a dashboard that delivers the lead management KPIs that show what's working and what's not.
The below example is a dashboard we routinely use and includes several custom KPIs.
The second essential reporting tool is Predictive Analytics.
This shifts information reporting from hindsight to foresight. It applies historical data patterns to calculate the next best campaign flight, next best offer, or next best action.
Marketing transformation is a process, not an event. So, to visualize that process we use a proprietary model we call the Predictive Pyramid.
This is an interactive dashboard that permits What-If modeling and pro forma scenario planning.
The data that drives the calculations is sourced from transaction history if its available or industry benchmarks if it's not. And like the dashboards, this measurement system should induce action. Remember, if your information reporting is not causing course corrections and shifting tactics, you're doing it wrong.
The Point is This
As well said by Mark Twain, the secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.
To achieve marketing transformation, it's more important to do the right things than do things right. This 4-step framework identifies the right things.
Without a framework it's easy to confuse activity with progress and difficult to separate the urgent from the important. Without a framework, marketers attempt to navigate without a map and execution becomes aimless. When marketers then incur investments or effort that does not directly drive the transformation, they steer off course and delay or degrade the most important objectives.
Applying a proven and repeatable transformation framework will define, de-risk and maximize the likelihood you achieve transformational results.