As many organizations look to cut costs from 2018 budgets, marketing initiatives can, unfairly, find themselves on the chopping block. Why? Most marketers do a poor job of measuring the success of their initiatives, so they find it difficult to connect their accomplishments to company goals. As a result, some executive teams have come to view marketing as tangential to the business; according to the Content Marketing Institute, 22 percent of B2B marketers say getting executive buy-in is a challenge.
The silver lining is that there is plenty of room for improvement, and the rewards will be great. Even if your company’s 2018 marketing budget has already been set, year’s end is still a great time to showcase the marketing team’s accomplishments over the past year. Set up an appointment to touch base with your boss, whether that be a full-on lunch meeting or a quick, 15-minute touch-base. To make the best possible impression, remember the following tips:
- Identify key metrics. What did you accomplish in 2017? Perhaps you increased the number of email subscribers, the number of visitors to your website or the number of social media followers. While these metrics are worth mentioning, they may not be very exciting to your boss unless you connect them to broader company goals. Identify which metrics your boss cares about most (typically things like number of new customers and sales-increase percentages), and use those metrics as you illustrate the impact of your marketing efforts. Even if you must use industry benchmarks or correlations to estimate your impact, at least you’ll be speaking your boss’s language.
- Share success stories. Marketing ROI can be difficult to measure, especially if you’ve struggled to find the time or resources to put sophisticated analytics systems in place. This difficulty makes customer success stories – which you can use to illustrate the general value of your efforts – that much more valuable. To find these stories, talk with new customers, go through old emails and talk with your marketing team about what they’re most proud of this year.
- During your meeting, listen more than you talk. What priorities and challenges are on your boss’s mind as 2018 approaches? How have they shifted from the prior year? Even if you think you know the answer, verbally confirming that you and your boss are on the same page is key to forming a marketing strategy that your superiors can get behind. Your boss will appreciate that you took the time to understand their priorities, and they’ll have greater confidence that your future initiatives support their goals.
- Use insights from 2017 to suggest 2018 updates. If you’ve been talking with your customers over the past year about what’s important to them (If not, here’s Why You Need to Talk to Your Customers), you’ll have learned a thing or two about how to connect their needs with what your company offers and your managers’ priorities. Even if you’re confident you’ve identified the best strategy for furthering company goals, pitch your 2018 marketing plan to your boss in such a way that shows you value their input (all while showcasing your expertise).
- Leave your ego at the door. If one or more of your 2017 initiatives fell flat, don’t hide it – your boss probably already knows about it, so pretending like it didn’t happen will only make you look childish. Show your boss that you’re willing to take ownership for the success of your initiatives by openly addressing the least successful ones and why they performed poorly. Explain what you learned and how you’ll leverage that knowledge to do better next year. This assures your boss that your strategy will continue to improve over time. Similarly, if your boss tells you that your priorities don’t match theirs, resist the knee-jerk urge to defend yourself. Instead, thank them for being forthright with you and find out if they have any suggestions for how you can better support their priorities.
If, like most marketers, your analytics/measurement capabilities are not as robust as you’d like, the start of a new year is a great time to improve them so you’ll have more quantifiable accomplishments to share in the future. To get you started, here are 3 Powerful Website Metrics Anyone Can Track.