How Random Acts of Marketing Limit Growth Potential | Episode 40

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The biggest threat to your growth and revenue goals is letting random acts of marketing dominate how your company goes to market. It’s the result of letting the loudest or most powerful voices win over a well-conceived plan that connects activities and executes a strategy backed by customer analysis and tested marketing methods. 

It’s truly a trap you need to figure out how to get out of, which means addressing it with leaders who may be unwittingly derailing more strategic efforts. You need to offer rationale on why a more enlightened approach is the answer to driving better results.  

Luckily you’re here! In this episode we dig into how random marketing cycles devour precious time—and how to shift away from it. Listen now to hear insights from the GrowthMode team and grab some knowledge to help you build your case for a better way forward.  

00:20 | Introduction
01:55 | Prioritize marketing activities based on strategy
03:36 | Why you need a strategic perspective when responding to requests
07:29 | Examples of random acts of marketing
08:33 | The impact of inconsistent execution and lack of scheduling
11:19 | The negative effects of switching direction
12:27 | Why you need consistency
15:32 | Reasons random acts of marketing happen
16:57 | The consequences
18:07 | How to eliminate this and refocus
19:32 | Key takeaway: Stay focused and intentional
19:44 | Conclusion

0:00:01 Jenni: Hey everybody, it’s Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing. You’re listening to Demand Gen Fix, the podcast where our team of growth moders and our guests discuss the ins and outs of demand generation and why we believe it’s the key to long term sustainable growth, especially in the HR tech industry.

0:00:20 Deanna: Hi there, Deanna and Greg here today and today’s topic is about the biggest marketing threat to your success. There is one common mistake that we see HR tech organizations and other B2B companies make over and over. When it comes to marketing, we call it random acts of marketing. You’ve probably heard us mention it on a podcast or two. This is when your marketing programs create a disjointed experience and ultimately disappointing results. It’s the busy work that feels like it has a purpose, but ultimately doesn’t move the needle enough to be prioritized over other strategic initiatives.

0:00:59 Deanna: So what does it mean to do random acts of marketing?

0:01:02 Greg: Well, there’s so many things we see that people do. It’s activities that aren’t metrics driven, or backed up by your strategy, or your other insights. Activities where you’re just chasing the next shiny object. Let’s try this. Let’s try that. Another thing is, activities prioritized based on who has the loudest voice rather than what will drive the best results.

0:01:23 Deanna: There’s so many forms that random acts of marketing take. We see this all of the time, you know, and when we call clients out on it, sometimes they’re a little taken aback because they’re like, what do you mean this is a random act of marketing? Because everything’s done with good intention, right? And that press release you asked for; that new sales collateral piece that you requested; this article you did over here because you just came back from a conference and had this great conversation; like all of these things, yes, they have purpose.

0:01:55 Deanna: At the end of the day, though, if you’re doing all these different things, I think you have to take a step back and look at it and say, okay, what was our strategy from a marketing standpoint to build out demand in the market? And what are the things we need to do? And is what we’re doing, is it all the right things and the best things to be doing to continuously move towards achieving that goal, which a lot of times is revenue growth, or hitting a certain revenue target. When you start to be more, what I would call, reactive on the marketing front, that’s where the random acts of marketing come in and you don’t even realize you’re doing it, right? But when that CEO comes to you and says hey, I had an idea for an article, I think we should really do something on this. Before you just jump in and do it, take a pause; think about your strategy; think about the mission at hand, and is this something that will move the needle more than other things on your strategy? If the answer is yes, work it in and make it happen. But if the answer is no, or I don’t know; like if it’s not really going to move the needle, it’s probably not something you should prioritize. And it’s okay, even if it’s the CEO; when they come to you and ask for something to measure it, and do a gut check and come back and say, appreciate that suggestion, I’m going to put it on the back burner right now because here are the priorities we’ve got to get through. Now, the CEO has the power to override that decision, but they’ll probably appreciate that you’re looking at it from a more strategic perspective as well.

0:03:36 Greg: Even just like you were just saying, if we call out our clients, sometimes, and we say, hey, are you sure you really want to be doing this? And they get a little offended. At the end of the day, right, we’re helping them to make better decisions, and they don’t have to agree with us; they can continue and do what you want to do, that’s fine, but somebody has to put the brakes on and say, here’s the strategy, let’s make sure we’re doing the right things. Budgets and time are limited, right? So you want to make sure you’re doing the best work to get the best results.

0:04:02 Deanna: Right, and from a marketing perspective, I think that’s how you should always look at it, or put a lens on it. Anything that you’re doing, is it the right priority? Because there’s a million different directions we can go as marketers, right? But at the end of the day, we’re held accountable to helping hit those revenue targets. That means we want to make sure we’re doing the work that is going to be the most impactful versus doing busy work. And I don’t think most marketers would classify what they’re doing as busy work, by any means, because again, we’re all well intentioned, and we think it’s going to move forward.

0:04:36 Deanna: It’s just so easy. We can see it from a mile away from the outside. I think sometimes it’s harder to see when you’re in the midst of it and you’re inside an organization, how disjointed your marketing starts to become when you’re jumping all over the place. And so the question becomes, how does this happen? At times we especially see this when pipeline is down, and the sales team is panicked because they will come asking marketing for support to drive immediate leads.

0:05:06 Deanna: So as marketers it’s not uncommon to drop everything and jump into campaign mode to help kick up some activity for them.

0:05:13 Greg: Marketing will get a request from sales, like help me put together this PowerPoint or I need a graphic to explain this, or somebody like that. And it’s going to be important, right? Or maybe that should have been built in from the beginning, when the strategy was first laid out. Like here’s all the different things we’re going to need. Maybe it’s something that should have been thought of before.

0:05:33 Deanna: Yeah, and I think the problem when we jump into that reactive mode is when we get distracted trying to address immediate lead concerns over and over. Our marketing starts to become random and disjointed, and we often overlook the long game of building out a sustainable growth engine that will prevent future pipeline issues. And so it starts to feel like this merry go round that you can’t get off of because you’re not doing the work to fix it in the long run, so you don’t keep having lead shortages and pipeline issues.

0:06:11 Deanna: Instead, you’re trying to address it in the moment, and you’re missing that opportunity to win over the prospects who aren’t in market to buy right now, which is the vast majority of them at any given time. And knowing how B2B prospects are making purchase decisions today, they’re waiting till much, much later in the sales process before they’ll engage with the vendor. And so if you don’t have those marketing programs in play, that becomes an issue because you’re not making the short list when they’re actually willing to start having those conversations.

0:06:44 Deanna: And that’s where if you only play the short game, you keep running into that issue of we don’t have enough leads; we need you to drop everything and help us change that right away.

0:06:56 Greg: Sorry, food analogy. It’s almost like you keep on going to the appetizers, but you never actually work on the meal. I mean, I like appetizers, don’t get me wrong, but you got to have that meat part of it, right? You got to have the meal, not just keep on doing these little things around the edges.

0:07:11 Deanna: You quickly fill up your stomach with all the little things and now you don’t need to eat dinner, but really you do, because later down the road, you’re going to find you’re hungry again.

0:07:21 Greg: Yeah

0:07:22 Deanna: So what constitutes random acts of marketing?

0:07:26 Greg: Oh, man, there’s all kinds of good stuff. Content for content’s sake; writing blog posts and articles because something happened, and oh, we should write about this; inconsistent execution. You should have a schedule, right? Your strategy has a schedule, part of it. If you don’t have that schedule, then you’re being inconsistent and you’re not getting to your prospects and customers in a timely manner, or when they’re ready based on what you know of their buying process.

0:07:03 Greg: Lack of purpose is another one. What’s the real purpose behind this work that I’m doing? What’s the strategy behind it? If you’re putting content out there, or doing work on things that don’t really have a purpose behind them, then that’s obviously a random act of marketing.

0:08:03 Deanna: With the content piece, when you think about content for the sake of content, inconsistent execution, lack of purpose, those all kind of weave together. And what that really means is if you’re doing content for the sake of content, it’s looking at things and saying, we need to get content out there, but you don’t have a lot of intention behind the content; kind of that lack of purpose.

0:08:29 Deanna: Like, if you’re just putting content out because you know you need to put content out, it’s not going to be as well targeted. Your messaging might be all over the place. It’s not really driving towards that purpose. The other thing is inconsistent execution. With that, this may be because you’re doing content for the sake of content, or you have a lack of purpose where you’re sporadically putting blog posts out there, and you’re sporadically putting LinkedIn posts and social media posts out there because you know you need to get content out there, but you don’t have a schedule.

0:09:09 Deanna: And so it’s like, as I get to it, I’m putting those things out there. And I think that’s so easy for that to happen at organizations as you get busy, as priorities shift, sometimes these things, you don’t mean to do it for the sake of doing it, or having inconsistent execution, but it’s like, ahhhh, we need a blog. You know what? It’s not the end of the world if we don’t get a blog post out this week, we’ll handle it next week. And before you know, it’s a snowball effect, I think, where it starts you miss one week and then all of a sudden a couple of weeks and before you know it, it’s a month before you have another blog post out, and it adds up to starting to look very inconsistent, and people don’t know when you’ll drop content because there’s no common schedule that you have going.

0:9:57 Greg: Yeah, as you were saying that I was thinking about, sometimes a client will say, well, we need to do a blog post about this because we haven’t talked about this in a while. Like whatever the this is, or a lot of sales has been talking a lot about this, like we should do a blog post about this. It should be part of the overall plan. Like, maybe that is something you need to talk about, but maybe you need to figure out how to make it strategic so that it makes sense and not just do the post about this.

0:10:22 Deanna: Yeah, that’s a really good point, and I think that’s another thing that happens pretty commonly, right? Like, you’re not putting together editorial plans, so you don’t have mapped out what your next topics will be. You start to insert topics, and they may be good topics, but what’s the intention behind them, and how strategic is it, and how does it fit with all the other content in the story you’re trying to sell? And you might be all over the place, unintentionally, by doing that. That parlays nicely into some of the other things that I think constitute random acts of marketing, and that’s when things are half hearted effort. Nobody goes into publishing a blog thinking we’re going to half hearted do this, but the reality is if you’re not putting full intention behind it and consistency, and all those things, it comes across as half hearted, and that creates that lack of cohesiveness.

0:11:16 Deanna: And the other thing I would say is a random act of marketing is not giving programs enough time to get traction, and continually switching directions. In past lives, I’ve certainly lived in this world where you’re desperate to bring leads in, right? So you’re trying a program, and you’re running it and you’re like, it’s been two months. We haven’t seen anything. Let’s try something else. When in reality, when you’re switching directions all the time, nothing ends up getting traction and it becomes an issue because switching all the time means that you have that disjointed experience, and nothing works because you’re not giving any of it enough time.

0:11:59 Greg: That’s the reason why you would have different pillars of content, right? That you’re focusing on these things, so that you can not be switching directions and be cohesive. Then obviously you would have a schedule backing that up, but you’re talking about those main topics that resonate with your buyers, and just keep talking about them over and over again because they need to hear from you 66 or 80 times before they’re going to pick up that phone or send your salespeople an email.

0:12:23 Deanna: Right, instead of having 67 different topics that you cover that are all totally different topics, there’s actually themes that run through everything you’re talking about, and you’re consistently hitting on points over and over to your point, Greg, that repetition, so it starts to stick with people, and you kind of know what to expect when they watch or listen to or read your content; the angle that you’re taking and that unique point of view that you have in the market. And that is hard to get across when all of your content is all over the place and a bit disconnected. Let’s talk about an example of what random acts of marketing look like if we were looking at selling an employee engagement platform, for example.

0:13:08 Greg: Already sporadic blog articles on many topics, or talking all things about one topic and then nothing on the other. We just said you have these key themes and pillars that you’re trying to communicate, but mixing them all up, or not doing them in the right order is going to impact the effectiveness.

0:13:24 Deanna: I would throw out, like, press releases that don’t actually share newsworthy news. So, for example, are you doing a press release for every new hire and every new client that you bring on board? I would push back on those kind of things because what is the purpose and does it drive interest? It might make sense to do a press release if you have a new CEO who brings really rich industry experience, and you want to show that in the marketplace. Every client you bring in the door, though as a buyer, do I need to see a press release? Do I care to see a press release about every company that comes in the door, whether they’re big or small? Not necessarily. I think those are more rich as customer case studies to show what you did for them than to announce like, hey, we have a new client.

0:14:15 Deanna: That’s great for you, but what does that mean for me as the buyer? It might fall on deaf ears if you’re creating webinars because a sales rep suggested a topic, but it doesn’t jive with the overall story you are trying to tell in the market. That’s an example of a random act of marketing, or if you’re doing an event sponsorship that doesn’t tie into your overall strategy. So, for example, if healthcare systems are your ideal customer profile, but you invest in a sponsorship package at the Shurum conference when your audience is more likely to be at industry relevant conferences, you may be wasting dollars on the wrong audience and not getting the traction that you’re looking for with them.

0:15:01 Deanna: And then email campaigns, when you’re shooting out a quick email campaign on the latest topic that popped up in a brainstorm session. Again, is this off topic from the overall content strategy and inconsistent with the messaging across other tactics? You need to stop and think about that, and we’ll probably belaboring it with the examples, but really that point is, take a step back and evaluate the things that you’re doing.

0:15:28 Deanna: How does this support the strategy? Is it the right place to be investing time, resources, and money? Will it move the needle? And if it’s not, check it off as a random act of marketing, put it on the back burner, and get more focused because you want to drive results.

0:15:47 Greg: That happens all the time, right? So it sounds funny to even ask the question, but how does it happen? Everybody does it, but why does this keep happening? How does it happen? It’s like we were talking; we were saying, you don’t have a plan, or you’re not sticking to the plan that you have. We’ve seen it time and time again. We have built a strategy plan, and then somebody puts it in the drawer and says, okay, we have a strategy plan, and then that’s the end of it. On top of it, and refer to it, and remind yourself of it, and remind others of it, and you have to keep selling that strategy that you developed and not just let it sit. So that’s a big way that it happens just because you’ll get busy with your day to day stuff, and then something pops up, and then you start doing that something, and…

0:16:26 Deanna: Right, and, you know, getting distracted, essentially not being hyper focused often happens because you’re trying to do too much, and the whole being reactive instead of proactive on the marketing stuff. So it’s really easy, quite frankly, to fall into the trap of random acts of marketing, but there are consequences to it because, I think, at the end of the day, when doing these random acts of marketing, it may feel like I’m doing a small piece over here and over here

0:16:55 Deanna: it only takes me 20 minutes to do this and an hour over here. All of that adds up. And at the end of the day, what happens, often, is that you don’t get any real traction in the market because your marketing efforts are disjointed, and you’re not getting any meaningful brand value. And we all know how crazy crowded the HR technology space is, and how hard it is to break through the clutter. If you’re not hyper focused with your marketing message and the tactics that you’re doing,

0:17:31 Deanna: it doesn’t drive results, and it creates that vicious cycle of chasing your tail and overlooking the long game of building out a sustainable growth. So you’ve really got to make sure and do that gut check on a regular basis against your strategy plan to say, are we on track? Are we doing what we committed to doing from a strategy standpoint? How much of our work supports that? And how much of our work actually probably could be classified as random acts of marketing that weren’t truly moving the needle for us?

0:18:04 Deanna: How do we eliminate that?

0:18:06 Greg: You have to know what your goals are. You have to have a plan, and then you have to stick to the plan. Like you were just saying, you have to question what you’re doing all the time. Does this really make sense? And if it’s not making sense, then you have to be able to stand up, say no, let’s put the brakes on for a second and go back to the goals and the plan, and make sure that it makes sense.

0:18:24 Deanna: Prioritize those requests and continually test, measure, refine, repeat. And what I mean by that is if you’re doing email campaigns, and that’s a primary way that you are doing outbound to the market to try to generate interest, and to get your content in front of them, and try to get prospects to engage, test out different types of content styles, and positioning. Measure it; see what’s working, see what’s not. Continue to refine it and continue to do that because the key is to be consistent, and not immediately be like, well, this ain’t working. We’re going to jump to the next tactic here.

0:19:06 Deanna: The consistency is a really important factor in avoiding random acts of marketing and making sure that you’re focused, because otherwise you can easily be all over the place. If there’s anything to take away from this conversation, I would say that the key to ensuring you get optimal results from your marketing programs is to stay the course. Don’t get caught up in a cycle of random acts of marketing.

0:19:31 Deanna: And if you want to be impactful, you need to be focused and intentional with all of your marketing efforts because it will pay off in the long run with bigger growth.

0:19:42 Jenni: Thanks for joining us on the Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech workers brought to you by GrowthMode Marketing. We sure hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe for more perspectives on demand generation and B2B marketing strategies. Plus, give us a like; tell your friends. We’ll see you next time.

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