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The key to marketing momentum

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The key to marketing momentum

Most marketing fails to deliver its maximum potential. And the reason is simple: lack of prioritization. 

“If we just had more time and resources then we could produce a better result.”

This might sound familiar. In fact, most marketing teams are drowning in work, overwhelmed with requests, and unable to keep track of everything that’s happening.


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I’ve worked with marketing teams of all sizes across a wide range of industries and it’s often the same scenario — complete chaos. You’re not alone.

If marketing organizations hope to deliver on the promise of marketing then we must address and fix this fundamental problem. Marketers have a responsibility to recognize and accept that this problem is within their control. 

It’s time for ruthless prioritization.

Accepting limitations

Capacity is arguably the biggest challenge facing marketing teams. In today’s environment there are so many options and avenues to explore in order to pursue the goals of marketing.

There are dozens of ways to reach your ideal customers with new channels and distribution methods popping up constantly. Change is the only constant of marketing. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with the persistent barrage of updates and algorithms. And new tools and technologies lure us in with their bold promises of better, faster, and easier results.

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On top of it all, the marketing organization is inundated with innumerable requests that pile up and create a massive logjam. 

When will we get all of this work done? And how will we ever achieve our goals?

If we are to be successful as marketers we must first accept our limitations. After all, we have finite time, resources, and energy. 

There is an important difference between the limit of what we can do and the limit of what we can do exceptionally. The most successful marketing teams are the ones that focus on the latter and not the former, which happens to be the lower limit.

I’m fond of the analogy from Jerry Weinberg who calls it the “Law of Raspberry Jam”. The more you spread it, the thinner it gets.

For our marketing efforts to be impactful we must stop spreading ourselves, our budget, and our team too thin.

Prioritizing ruthlessly

As marketers, we like to think that great marketing should be complicated or complex. After all, doesn’t more effort and involvement imply, and justify, an increased outcome?

There isn’t enough capacity, time, or budget to waste on marketing that doesn’t work. We must be critical of every initiative from the beginning before embarking down a road destined for disappointment.

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For every initiative we undertake, we must understand how big of an impact it will have on our results and how confident we are in our ability to achieve that impact.

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In short, we must prioritize ruthlessly.

Prioritizing ruthlessly is a simple process that:

  1. Applies an objective and consistent evaluation filter to every initiative and commitment
  2. Rigorously focuses on ensuring confidence and consensus among decisions
  3. Allows the marketing organization to evolve and make smarter bets over time

In other words, every initiative must pass a trial by fire. And every decision is revisited, reviewed, and used to tweak the prioritization process. 

The obvious outcome is that only a few priorities emerge as worth executing. But the secondary outcome is just as valuable, if not more-so.


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Stop turning around

Imagine taking a road trip and making a few wrong turns. No big deal, right?

Now imagine making wrong turns so often, and needing to turn around time and again, that you run out of gas before you reach your destination.

That’s exactly how most marketing teams approach their marketing. Taken off course time and again from internal requests, the promise of a new channel, or adopting new technologies.

Prioritizing ruthlessly helps prevent your team from wasting time, money, and effort on useless activities, assets, and endeavors that wouldn’t have a major impact anyway. In other words, it stops your team from having to turn around more than necessary.

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Marketing strategy is what sets the final destination. Ruthless prioritization is the GPS system to keep your team on the fastest and most direct route.

How to prioritize ruthlessly

There are four steps to prioritizing ruthlessly and the entire process is collaborative, fosters useful discussion, and takes little time.

Here are the steps, demonstrated via example of a marketing team considering which marketing events to pursue and invest in.

Step 1: List out all of the potential activities, efforts, or decisions

Write down every event and the high-level details (name, date, brief description). Share the list with the team who will help evaluate the potential alternatives to select from. Everyone will have their own opinions and biases of which events are best, which should be chosen, and which are a waste of time. These opinions aren’t bad (they might actually be right), but they can’t be accepted blindly.

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Step 2: Map the list of items onto the prioritization matrix

One at a time, place each event onto the map based on the two axes:

  • Potential: How much will this move us towards our goal and produce the desired result?
  • Confidence: How certain are we that we can realize the expected impact?

For instance, one event may have a huge attendance of ideal customers (a high potential) but it may be our first time attending that event (low confidence).

The team — as a group — decides where to place the item on the map. This is where the discussion and debate enter the picture. Go back and forth until the team comes to a consensus on a reasonable place for the item.

During this mapping process, the team can discuss ways to mitigate risks, improve odds, and thereby move the placement of items on the map. For example, attending a big event for the first time is a risk and constitutes low confidence, but perhaps there are partners you could work with to increase the confidence of being able to successfully participate or sponsor the event. If so, that would raise the confidence of attending the event.

Step 3: Identify the Top Choices

Items located in the top right quadrant of the map will reflect those that have a high potential of success and that the team has a high degree of confidence in achieving. These are the top choices, but we’re not done yet. It’s time to be even more ruthless in our prioritization by passing each of these items through a series of filtering questions.

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If there are too many items in the top right quadrant, take only those items that fall within the extreme top right corner of the map and continue on.

Step 4: Evaluate & Reject Options

The last step is to take each item and ask the following questions, keeping in mind that eliminating options is desirable. If too many options pass through your filtering questions then the team’s assumptions or objectivity may be faulty.

Here are the questions to answer for each option:

  • Why now? Justify the immediate need and identify dependencies.
  • What’s better? Compare the alternatives to this option and ensure it is the superior choice.
  • What if we don’t? Uncover the risks of not choosing this option, or if it is chosen and fails.
  • Are we ready? The final question to ensure that the team accepts this as a priority.
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After answering each of these questions for the remaining items, the decision will become clear. The items that have survived this quick yet rigorous process are worthy of becoming full fledged priorities—and nothing else.

These are a starting set of filtering questions you can use. As your team embraces the process and revisits the outcomes of their choices, they will develop more filtering questions that will help in further tightening the selection criteria.

Read next: 6 steps to help you prioritize tasks when everything is a priority

Building marketing momentum

Prioritizing ruthlessly doesn’t end once you decide and commit to the finite set of actions you and your team will pursue. Having a retrospective at the conclusion of every effort is a vital part of reflecting on whether or not it was a valuable priority to have selected. 

Whenever an initiative is completed and it was deemed a successful and worthwhile priority, celebrate with your team. And if it wasn’t successful or worthwhile, reevaluate the assumptions and data points used to accept it as a priority, then tweak the prioritization filter accordingly. This often takes the form of notes, guidelines, and additional questions you and your team develop over time.

Marketing isn’t going to slow down. In fact, it’s only going to keep accelerating. Things will continue to change because that’s what marketing does best.

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The most successful marketing teams are those who can embrace the volatility, maintain the requisite speed, and prioritize ruthlessly.


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


About The Author

Tim Parkin is a consultant, advisor, and coach to marketing executives globally. He specializes in helping marketing teams optimize performance, accelerate growth, and maximize their results.
By applying more than 20 years of experience merging behavioral psychology and technology, Tim has unlocked rapid and dramatic growth for global brands and award-winning agencies alike.
He is a speaker, author, and thought leader who has been featured in AdAge, AdWeek, Inc, TechCrunch, Forbes, and many other major industry publications. Tim is also a member of the American Marketing Association, Society for the Advancement of Consulting, and an inductee to the Million Dollar Consulting Hall of Fame.

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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.”

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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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