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Rethinking the marketing planning process for an agile world

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Rethinking the marketing planning process for an agile world

The whole premise of agile marketing is exactly that:

  • To be agile in our delivery of marketing assets, campaigns, educational content and product launches.
  • To generate conversations within our industries around topics of interest to our clients that would surface the next big thing we’d embark on.

The traditional annual marketing plan is a waterfall approach that does not support fast experiments. It talks about the “4Ps” — product, price, promotion and place — instead of focusing on the customer, their needs, and the fantastic way we are going to solve them. In today’s martech world, we cannot afford to be constrained with an annual marketing plan — and the good news is that we don’t have to be. 

Old habits, bad habits

I have witnessed time and again, throughout my career as a marketer, how marketing teams spend weeks crafting their annual marketing plans, only to see them forgotten in an obscure file somewhere in someone’s laptop. The frequently expressed frustration is: “We spend all this time working on a marketing plan and then we don’t look back at it all year” Who’s fault is it?

I used to adopt the main objectives in my product marketing plan as my goals for the year, actually entering them in the “system” and therefore, I felt a little reassurance that I had not worked for nothing. I’m sure I’m not the only one. 


Catch up on the Agile Marketing Navigator series!


New habits, better habits

As I evolved my thinking into an agile marketing framework, I moved away from the traditional marketing plan and more into thinking about “chunks of work” that would support the overall goal of the company with the product I’m managing. It has been my experience that, in fact, marketing plans that endure are living documents that get updated and evolve. That allows for flexibility and – the devil is in the details here – the plans should be stored in a place where teams can go in and periodically update them to reflect any major changes. 

See also  Why data-driven decision-making is the foundation of successful CX

Here are five things to tackle that will evolve your marketing plan and make it agile:

  1. Keep the market assessment and SWOTs in mind and review them quarterly.
  2. Review your value proposition, positioning statement, unique selling prop, and customer-centric benefits and revisit them throughout the year.
  3. Create Epics (user stories that span more than one sprint) for all your main marketing goals and objectives and add stories underneath the Epic that will become your backlog of deliverables.
  4. Note how many items or stories you have in your backlog that are unassigned.
  5. Keep your plan short in time and scope. In an agile mindset, planning through December 31 when it is only January 2nd is not only frowned upon — you won’t be able to keep that kind of planning up. If you do agile correctly, by end of Q2, your plan will have changed. And that’s okay.

When you think about agile and how to apply it to marketing, looking at the marketing plan and adapting it to be more agile will set marketers up for success as we start the planning season. Let’s start it with the right mindset. We know how to move fast — good marketers know that well. We’ve done it all our lives; we have mastered the art of fast-pace, change, and adaptation. We just have some lingering “old habits” we need to kick to the curb and we’ll be stellar.

Not only stellar, but we’ll be able to cope the work that needs to be done because it will be nicely placed in the multiple iterations that we’ll create on, say, fortnightly periods. We can measure, we can adapt, we can fail fast and move on, and we can conduct so many more experiments. The difference is that, with agile marketing, we’ll have visibility not only into the marketplace but within our organization. We’ll stop being the outbound marketing gals and guys, and be true movers and shakers within our organizations. 

See also  Living the agile marketing values: A do’s and don’ts guide

Stacey Ackerman’s Agile Marketing Navigator series continues next week.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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About The Author

Giannina is a product marketing manager at 3M Company. She currently manages the commercialization of new and established healthcare software products and creates brand and marketing content for healthcare organizations of all sizes. She’s a marketing veteran with 20 years of experience covering a wide range of industries, mostly with tech/software companies. Ever since she stumbled upon the concept of agile marketing back in 2015, Giannina became a strong proponent and early adopter of Agile Marketing and Scrum methodologies. She has subsequently led divison’s marketing team to adopt agile methodologies and practices. She is a Licensed Scrum Product Owner; holds a Bachelor’s Degree in international marketing from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and additional advertising and communications degrees from Instituto Peruano de Publicidad – in Lima, Peru, her home country. Giannina lives in Maryland with her husband and two kids.

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MARKETING

B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter

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B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter

The B2B customer journey can be a long one, especially when the purchase of expensive software subscriptions is under consideration.

“The average B2B customer journey takes 192 days from anonymous first touch to won,” according to Dreamdata in their 2022 B2B Go-to-Market Benchmarks — a statistic described by co-founder and CMO Steffen Hedebrandt as “alarming.”

But the report also indicates that this journey can be significantly sped up — by as much as 63% — if accounts begin their research at software review sites, gathering information and opinions from their peers. Journeys that originate at a review site often lead to deals of higher value too.

Fragmented data on the customer journey. Dreamdata is a B2B go-to-market platform. In any B2B company, explained Hedebrandt, there are typically 10 or even 20 data silos that contain fragments of the customer journey. Website visits, white paper downloads, social media interactions, webinar or meeting attendance, demos, and of course intent data from review site visits — this data doesn’t typically sit in one place within an organization.

“We built an account-based data model because we believe that there’s such a thing as an account journey and not an individual journey,” said Hedebrandt. “So if there are two, three or five people representing an account, which is typically what you see in B2B, all of these touches get mapped into the same timeline.”

Among those many touches is the intent data sourced from software review site G2. Dreamdata has an integration with G2 and a G2 dashboard allowing visualization of G2-generated intent data. This includes filtering prospects who are early in their journey, who have not yet discovered the customer’s product, or who have discovered it but are still searching. This creates a basis for attributing pipelines, conversions and revenue to the activity.

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“Strategically, our ideal customer profile is a B2B software-as-a-service company,” said Hedenbrandt. “B2B SaaS companies are particularly ripe for understanding this digital customer journey; their main investment is in digital marketing, they have a salesforce that use software tools to do this inside sales model; and they also deliver their product digitally as well.” What’s more, it takes twice as long to close SaaS deal as it does to close deals with B2B commercial and professional services companies.

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Read next: A look at the tech review space

The Benchmarks findings. The conclusions of the 2022 Benchmarks report is based on aggregated, anonymized data from more than 400 Dreamdata user accounts. Focusing on first-touch attribution (from their multi-touch model), Dreamdata found that customer journeys where a review site is the first touch are 63% shorter than the average. In contrast, where the first touch channel is social, the journey is much longer than average (217%); it’s the same when paid media is the first touch (155%).

As the Benchmarks report suggests, this may well mean that social is targeting prospects that are just not in-market. It makes sense that activity on a review site is a better predictor of intent.

Hedenbrandt underlines the importance of treating the specific figures with caution. “It’s not complete science what we’ve done,” he admits, “but it’s real data from 400 accounts, so it’s not going to be completely off. You can only spend your time once, and at least from what we can see here it’s better to spend your time collecting reviews than writing another Facebook update.”

See also  Why data-driven decision-making is the foundation of successful CX

While Dreamdata highlights use of G2, Hedenbrandt readily concedes that competitor software review sites might reasonably be expected to show similar effects. “Definitely I would expect it to be similar.”

Why we care. It’s not news that B2B buyers researching software purchases use review sites and that those sites gather and trade in the intent data generated. Software vendors encourage users to post reviews. There has been a general assumption that a large number of hopefully positive reviews is a good thing to have.


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What Dreamdata’s findings indicate is that the effect of review sites on the buyer journey — especially as the first-touch channel — can be quantified and a value placed on it. “None of us questioned the value of reviews, but during this process you can actually map it into a customer journey where you can see the journey started from G2, then flowed into sales meetings, website visits, ads, etc. Then we can also join the deal value to the intent that started from G2.”

Likely, this is also another example of B2B learning from B2C. People looking at high consideration B2C purchases are now accustomed to seeking advice both from friends and from online reviews. The same goes for SaaS purchases, Hedenbrandt suggests: “More people are turning to sites like G2 to understand whether this is a trustworthy vendor or not. The more expensive it is, the more validation you want to see.”


About The Author

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Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

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He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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