That’s a question we hear a lot before we kick off projects with clients who have not done a lot of marketing in the past. We usually answer their question with a series of questions of our own, the first being, “How do you define ‘work?’ What are we trying to achieve with this marketing campaign? Brand awareness? Lead generation? Revenue growth?” All are worthy goals, but they all have their challenges, and some take longer than others to “work.”
Where are you trying to drive the business?
A mistake many people make when they ask this question is that they have not truly defined their business goals. This mistake will hinder marketing quality because a good marketing strategy has to be aligned with a good business strategy. For example, if you want to grow revenue – most companies do – you must look at the current state of your business and then imagine where you want to be in the next three years. What will you need from marketing to make that imaginary scenario a reality?
Some stuff takes a long time to work, and other stuff doesn't.
Let’s classify some different levels of wins. Just keep in mind that every situation is different, but here is what we see commonly with our B2B clients.
Quick wins: days or weeks to execute
Improve sales win rates: Usually, we can get there quickly by improving the sales pitch of the salesforce by clarifying your value propositions, highlighting your differentiation, and improving the sales tools. Have you seen what your salespeople are putting in front of your customers? Yikes.
Social media communications: Many of our clients see the value of social media as a communications channel for sales and marketing, but they haven’t quite mustered up the discipline to execute a sustainable effort. Generating a plan and executing on it can happen fast since the platforms are already in place, and your customers are already there.
Lead generation: Are you getting high-quality sales leads on your website? This is something that we can move on fast if you have the right digital infrastructure. If you don’t have a good website and good content, it’s going to slow you down.
Mid-term: months to execute
Digital engagement: Building on how not having a good website will slow you down, the reality is that many websites simply weren’t built to generate leads. If this is the case with your website, it takes time to build a robust website. Properly architecting a site, generating quality content, and designing and developing the site can’t happen overnight, but when you get it right, the website will be the hub of all your marketing efforts, yielding search engine traffic and high-quality leads.
Content marketing: Content marketing can be exceptionally powerful for clients, but it rarely is an instant success. Developing the right content is something that requires time and finesse. Then you have to promote it so people will actually find it and interact with it.
Account-based marketing: Account-based marketing (ABM) is a tactic that is popular in industries with narrow target audiences. ABM requires close interaction between sales and marketing, which can have cultural hurdles. It also requires valuable sales and marketing collateral, and some planning to execute. You can expect to see some serious ROI, though, plus it can shorten sales cycles once you get your program up and running.
Long-term: years to execute
Brand building: Building brand associations is simple. It just takes three things: time, money, and consistency. It can take years, and changing consumer perception can take decades. Think Hyundai overcoming its reputation for poor quality. It has been decades in the making, but with enough time, money, and consistency, Hyundai is getting some traction. Brand building takes a while, but it pays dividends and can give you a strong competitive advantage for decades.
Changing market position: If your company is not the leader in your market but wants to be, I have some bad news for you. It might take a lot of time to get there. It does happen from time to time, but you will need some help from your competitors. You need to get better, and they need to get way worse. But if they got to the top in the first place, it’s probably not because they make bad decisions. Companies and products at the top tend to stay there. It takes years of chipping away at market share to take down the top dogs.
Just because some of these tactics take longer than others, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be working on them now. I’m reminded of this adage: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time to plant a tree is today.” A good marketing strategy looks to take advantage of quick wins while executing on mid-term tactics, all the while building positive brand associations. Only focusing on short-term tactics won’t generate long-term results.
The final chirp:
Generating results with marketing can happen fast, but most companies who ask the question “How long does it take?” are often the ones that will require the most time to see ROI. I say this because they probably have not invested in their marketing strategy or many of the critical aspects of their marketing infrastructure that will be the keys to making their marketing “work.” But that’s OK. Taking your time in the beginning will help you go faster later.
If you want to talk about driving your revenue growth, BlueByrd is here to help. We can get your organization on the marketing fast track.