Building a complete and differentiated go-to-market plan is something all marketing professionals strive to achieve. We typically follow a methodology to ensure the target customer is at the center of the plan and we have a clear and compelling value proposition to generate a positive response.
Many of us learned about Neil H. Borden's "The Concept of the Marketing Mix," circa 1964. The ingredients of Borden's Marketing Mix centered on the four Ps—product, pricing, placement, and promotion. But those four Ps require that the marketing professional develop the optimal marketing mix, including market insights, marketing/sales programs, and measurement tools and metrics. Unfortunately, those actions too often become afterthoughts in today’s hurried time to market.
Assuring Success with the 4 Ms
The key to a successful plan based on the 4 Ps means starting with a framework from the outset that includes what I like to call "the four Ms": market intelligence, modeling, mix, and measurement. The four Ms are the marketing activities that act as the glue binding marketing and sales together. Ensuring that sales and marketing have skin in the game motivates both teams to achieve marketing objectives while ultimately focusing on revenue.
1. Market Intelligence and Analysis
•Just as anyone raising money to fund a start-up needs a great idea, they also need a large and growing market they believe they'll be able to address. In the same way, regardless of the maturity of your company, you need to develop a business case for which part of the market you intend to address, why it makes sense, and how you are going to do it. The process of researching the total addressable market for your proposed product or service is only a small piece of the necessary analysis. Identifying the viable market segments your solution can address, along with understanding the customer profile and primary business drivers, is the baseline for any plan. Whether you have a solution that requires prospecting for new customers, or the benefit of an installed customer base you can cross-sell and up-sell into, the same rules apply. Do your research: Analyze the data to determine which slice of the market you intend to address, what challenge you will solve, and what benefits your solution offers that differentiate you from the competition. But once again, before you assume you have all the answers, be sure to make part of your primary research talking to your sales teams about their knowledge of the market and their customer base.
•With a lot of great data that's been sliced and diced, you now can justify moving the plan to the next stage. Nomenclature aside, your next step is to model a "program," a holistic set of resources, tools, and activities that enable both your sales force to be effective, and your customers to engage with your organization. The key to this is to ensure you provide sales with prescriptive instructions on how to use the resources and when to use them. And don't think of sales enablement separately from demand generation. The two should be tightly linked. Sales enablement tools and resources you provide your salespeople should be integrated with customer engagement demand-generating tactics (telemarketing scripts, e-mailers) so sales is part of the marketing engine and marketing is helping to drive the sales funnel.
•So that sales understands how marketing intends to create an ongoing customer experience, providing details on how the entire program or campaign will work helps everyone take ownership of the outcome. Building the marketing funnel means marketing must invest in awareness activities (advertising, trade shows, and PR), consideration activities (Web/seminars, white papers, case studies), and preference activities (demos, ROI tools). When sales has a window into the logic behind the marketing program, they can effectively leverage each prospect interaction and the offers that have initiated a response.
•Close the loop with review teams that provide continual feedback on the approach, validating or invalidating the tactics themselves. The job of program modeling is about accelerating sales cycles, and helping sales to move customers more quickly from the prospect stage to the propose stage.
3. Marketing Mix
•If your company or product is immature, awareness is critical. If you are marketing to your installed base, your emphasis may be more on the consideration and preference stages. After all, you are marketing to existing customers who are familiar with your brand, but may not understand why they should upgrade or build upon the solution they already have. Targeted demand generation with case study offers, white papers, ROI tools, or financing may prove to generate high response rates.
•You might be thinking, "I cannot get the funding for a robust system to measure my marketing activities." That may be the case, but today there are great hosted solutions that enable you to have an integrated marketing and measurement system up and running in less than a week. At the end of the day, you have to justify your marketing spend, and measure your return on marketing investment.
•Just as importantly, you need to measure response rates, leads, and appointments so you can refine, improve, and optimize your campaigns based on what prospects are responding to, what they are registering for, and what content they are downloading.
Adding the four Ms is not designed to make things more complicated. The four Ms methodology ensures the fundamental aspects of your plan and strategy are sound, and can be executed and measured. As we all know, a great marketing strategy does not always translate into an effectively executed plan. Do your planning—maybe that should be the fifth "P."
Terry Healey is a high technology marketing consultant, author and speaker at Ridgeview Consulting. For more information, visit www.ridgeviewconsulting.com or e-mail Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org.