Your biggest threat: Random acts of marketing : Episode 5

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Like everything in your organization, your marketing should be tied back to your company goal. It has to be intentional and focused. Join us for this episode of Demand Gen Fix to learn how to spot a random act of marketing and tips for preventing it so you can drive real results.

[00:00] Show intro

[00:23] Random acts of marketing: what is it?

[06:23] What can qualify as a random act of marketing?

[21:15] What does random acts of marketing look like in an organization?

[30:50] Random acts of marketing in a nutshell

[33:09] How do you combat random acts of marketing?

[35:51] The key takeaways

[36:10] Outro

The Demand Gen Fix is hosted by GrowthMode Marketing. Visit to learn more about us.


Hey everybody, it’s Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing. You are listening to The Demand Gen Fix the podcast where our team of GrowthModers 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.


Hey everybody, it’s Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing, and I’m here with the Demand Gen Fix podcast, episode five. Today I am joined by Erica Rhodes and Deanna Shimota. Our topic today is going to be about random acts of marketing and why we think it is one of the biggest threats in your demand gen progress. It holds you up and it creates distractions. We need to really start focusing on exactly what kind of marketing we’re doing. So quit trying to throw a spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. We’re going to get into a little bit more on that. So, Erica, if you want to start by talking about exactly what is, what we’re calling random acts of marketing.


Good question, Jenni. I think a lot of times, it’s very straightforward, at least to us as marketers, random acts of marketing. A lot of times people don’t necessarily understand that they’re doing this, but this would be any type of activity where it’s a one and done kind of activity. You’re creating content just to create a new piece of content. There’s not necessarily a plan or a strategy behind it. So a lot of times we would find that these activities are things that are not metrics driven. Again, it’s a request that came from so-and-so on the sales team. It’s something that someone maybe on the marketing team saw and thought, oh, that’s a good idea, let’s throw that in the mix. Really what these random acts of marketing are doing, you’re chasing that next shiny object. You’re focused on one thing at a time, and you’re not looking at the cohesive plan or strategy behind what’s the bigger picture and really what’s our goal here.


So again, as Jenni mentioned, you’re just throwing things around hoping something works, but none of these different random acts of marketing can necessarily be proven data driven successes. And I think really what that comes down to is your direction just becomes very disjointed. And when you look back at something like this, we’ll continue to see the fact that these different acts of marketing, these different, tactics that you tried, may look like they weren’t successful in the long run. And that’s what we see a lot of times when we go into a client, we see that we start to identify and help them to understand where these things are happening and sort of how we can put a plan behind it and start to back some of these acts up with data and metrics.


Yeah, I think it’s so common. Most organizations have some form of random acts of marketing happening. Some are better at controlling it than others. And I think it’s very common. You don’t see the forest through the trees. But the thing is, a lot of organizations and marketing teams, they don’t even realize they’re doing it. They’re working really hard, they’re creating a lot of things. And at the end of the day, the results that they’re getting can be pretty disappointing, and when they take a step back and they’re looking at marketing, they’re like, but we did this and this and this and this and this and this, and this, and this. What isn’t it working? As you really think about it, like anybody that’s worked in a B2B organization has, as a marketer, has probably had this experience.


God bless sales, but you’ve got sales reps coming to you every single day who are like, Hey, if I had this piece, Hey, if I had this piece, hey, I have an idea. They are one of the big drivers of random acts of marketing. Sometimes the executive team are drivers too. Everybody’s got ideas for you in marketing, and sometimes it’s about prioritizing based on who has the loudest voice. And I think the problem with that is you’re starting to do marketing activities that are very disconnected. So, trying to do everything, you’re not actually getting the traction that you need and you don’t realize it. You’re just doing things, because people are asking and you’re trying to be a team player, and you’re really about, oh, I’m here to support sales and help them succeed. They’re asking for this, therefore I’m going to do it. I think what marketing teams need to do when they’re getting asked those things is really to take a step back and ask, will this drive results? What will drive the best results? And be able to say no to things so that you actually can stay focused and stop doing those random acts of marketing.


I think another reason that companies do things is because they’ve always done them. It’s just a habit. Like it’s expected. We’ve always done it this way. Every month we send out our newsletter. Every year we send out this special blog. There are things that they do every year and those things, hopefully you can measure, you can go back, and you can look at the numbers and you can say, okay, is this really truly successful? Or are you just doing it because it’s something you’ve always done? I think that it’s always good to take a look at those things and don’t randomly do stuff if it’s just for the sake of doing it. That’s a waste of your time. It’s a waste of your customer’s time. It’s not putting any kind of decent content out there. It’s a waste for everybody if you’re just doing it because it’s something that you’ve always done. So take a look at those things as well. Make sure that it’s actually something that’s measurable success before you keep doing it every single month or year or whatever it is your cadence is.


Yeah, for sure. Let’s talk about what constitutes a random act of marketing, because I think it can take so many forms to the point where people don’t realize, oh, I just did a random act of marketing. Because they’re so busy, because they’re moving 500 miles per hour, because they’re responding and being reactive to what the organization is telling them they need. I think sometimes it’s not obvious that it’s a random act of marketing.


I think that a lot of times these random acts, as you mentioned, Deanna, it’s something that sales came to you with an idea because they saw somebody else do it, or they have a colleague who had good success with something and then they want to try the same thing. Or you saw something online and you thought, oh, that’s a good idea, but are you really thinking of how it applies to your particular business, to your goals, to what you want to accomplish? Or is it just somebody else’s idea that you’re taking and running with and you don’t really have anything to back it up? There’s not any real solid content or data behind it. It’s just let’s give this a shot.


I think it’s also content for the sake of content. And what I mean by that is, oh, you know what? We probably should have a blog. So you start producing blog articles, but you don’t have a strategy behind it. You aren’t necessarily thinking through the full intent of what are we trying to accomplish here? And you just start slapping up articles. Maybe you’re focused on getting SEO traction, you’re producing content, but there’s no real strategy or cohesiveness around it. So, your messages and the key things you’re putting out there are all over the place.


I think that leads to an inconsistent approach at a lot of these things too, where you don’t have a plan. So, as you’re producing these blog articles, or as you’re producing a video series, things like that, you’re with that inconsistent approach, you’re not really going to be able to accomplish your goals. And again, this goes back to at the beginning asking, what is your goal? What is going to show me that this effort was successful, and does it fit into my overall plan? I think that inconsistency is a lot of times what we see people running into, and all of us from the B2B side at some point or another can probably look back and say, yeah, you’re right. This was an effort I did because of a request I got. And it was very inconsistent with everything else that we had within our strategy at that point in time. Did it really make sense in the big picture? Probably not.


On the inconsistent theme, even the inconsistent execution in the sense, let’s say you start out the year, we’re going to do a monthly newsletter to our clients. Suddenly, you get really busy, it falls to the wayside, your monthly becomes quarterly, then it becomes twice a year. You’re not consistently getting that content out in front of people, whether it’s a newsletter or webinars or podcasts or your blog articles. You’re just not doing it on a consistent enough basis that it’s getting traction with people because they don’t remember all the space in between doing them. It’s not like, oh, if I know you’re doing a weekly podcast, I’m going to check every week, every couple of weeks, see what’s new out there. If you’re doing it quarterly, I’m going to forget it exists. I’m not going to check again, because last time I checked, there was nothing new. And it just loses that continual drip and that momentum.


And that’s where I think that inconsistency comes from really not having a plan and sticking to it. You’re just saying, okay, yeah, we’ll do that. Okay, yeah, we’ll do that. And we’re just taking requests from everybody. Where if you actually have a plan, you know what you’re going to be doing every week, every month, every quarter, you can stick to it, right? You know what it is, you know what your topics are, you know what your content’s going to be, and you most likely won’t be putting it off and putting it off because you don’t have the right messaging in place or whatever. You’ll actually be able to stick to that plan because you know what it is.


I think it can come across kind of as half-hearted efforts at times. Not that any of us marketers set out and say, I’m going to do this, but I’m going to do it half-hearted. Let’s take social media for example. Many companies think, I’ve got to have social media as part of the standard must do these days. Some invest a lot of time and effort into doing social media really well, and some do it for content’s sake, for having it out there. But they do it so randomly and half-hearted that the content is all over the place and it’s not actually serving a real purpose. And so, my question to a company that’s doing that is, why are you even spending any time on this if you’re not going to fully embrace it and make sure that it’s driving results for you? Because I think it’s probably better not to have it than to have this heart half-hearted attempt out there that your prospects can see and be underwhelmed by.


What it comes down to is you can start to think, yeah, some of these different random acts of marketing might seem like a little ask or a little task up front, but when that idea is half baked and you start to half-heartedly execute on it, think about all that time and effort that was actually put into doing this, to doing these different random acts. And again, where are you getting with that? Nowhere in the long term. I think honestly, if we could put a number on that and look back and say, in the last three months, how much time have I spent on these random acts? I think people would be really surprised as you start to look back and think about all the time and resource. And that’s not just creating the content. Let’s say writing the social post and going ahead and posting, that’s coming up with what those topics are.


It’s pulling in the information, it’s creating the post, it’s actually posting, it’s watching for comments and things like that, reporting back on those efforts. There’s a lot of other pieces that would go into that in some cases too, where it’s new content that you’re creating, you have to also factor in a lot of times when these ideas are half baked, and this has happened to me before. I’m sure you guys could agree, but you get to the point where you start creating this piece, maybe it’s something sales requested, you start to build this out, gather the information, you interview subject matter experts, you start to write the content and put this all together and design it, and all of a sudden you hit a complete roadblock and someone decides along the way that, nope, we actually don’t need something. That’s not something we want to do. Okay, now you’ve just put all that effort and resource into a piece that is never going to get out there into the world because again, there was really not a purpose or a plan for that upfront. A lot of us could agree that happens, especially in the corporate world.


I feel like it happens all the time. I feel like we’re putting so much time and effort into building all of this content. You can look back at the past month and you can say, oh my gosh, I’ve been so busy working on this stuff. I did this and this and this and this, and all your time is gone. You feel like you’ve just been putting in tons of time and nothing to show for it. Where’s the return on investment for all of that stuff you did? It’s just out there. Sure. But none of it ties back to any of your goals. It’s frustrating and it’s such a waste for clients and for the people doing the work, it’s just frustrating.


Yeah. Oh my gosh. So true. And going back to something Erica said a little bit ago about, if you measured the amount of time that goes into it really made me think that’s so true because what you think is 15 minutes here, 30 minutes here, like small things that you’re like, ah, no problem. I can get that out the door really quickly, or I can solve that problem five minutes here and there, 10 minutes here and there, whatever that time is seems really minor. But when you add it up over time, it ends up being a significant cost factor to your organization. I know sometimes organizations will look at it and they’ll say, well, it didn’t cost us anything. One of our employees did it. It’s not like we sent it out to an agency. Hello. I don’t know any employees that are free.


Every person’s time is valuable and there’s a dollar value on that person’s time and what it’s costing that organization. So, are you getting your ROI out of the time that’s being invested in these things? It adds up. It’s not typically trivial, but you think it is because it’s spread out here and there. It’s not like you’re spending eight hours all at once doing all these things. Hopefully, in some cases maybe they are, but over time it ends up being a significant drain on resources that you just don’t recognize often because it’s hidden in small increments here and there.


Then I think everybody gets frustrated, all the way up the ladder because everyone seems like they’re doing stuff, but you’re not getting any traction. There’s no traction, there’s no results, nothing’s happening, but everybody’s busy. Everybody’s doing their job, everybody’s doing stuff, but why isn’t it working?


I think another issue that turns into random acts of marketing is not giving programs enough time. As marketers who have a lot of pressure on our shoulders to help the sales team deliver results, it’s hard to have the patience at times or even the support from the organization as a whole to be able to really invest time and effort into a program and wait for it to actually start producing results. I’ll use demand generation, which we love to talk about as an example. That’s not a magic bullet that starts flipping leads to you overnight. It takes time, it takes consistency, it takes a lot of work to build up that engine, and then you have to keep feeding that engine and revving it up so it eventually produces for you. And I think it’s common for many organizations to say, okay, we’re going to do this program, we’re going to invest in it, we’re going to see how it performs, and if it doesn’t perform, we’re going to move on to the next thing.


I am all for testing different things. I am all for measuring the effectiveness of those things and moving on to something else if it’s not delivering results. But I think it’s so common to get impatient and not give it enough time. The question is, okay, we we’re going to do a digital advertising campaign, we’re going to do a 30-day test, you do it for 30 days, you didn’t get any immediate sales and leads out of it. Is that program a failure? Well, in a lot of marketer’s minds, because of the pressure that they’re facing to deliver results that are provable and meaningful to an organization, they’re going to look at it and say, we tried digital advertising. It didn’t work for us. We just spent $5,000 in ad spend and got nothing out of it. If people take, according to Gartner research, 66 touches for the average B2B buyer to enter the sales process with an organization and you spent 30 days putting ads up and they maybe saw your ad twice, you didn’t give that program enough time.


And that’s maybe an exaggerated example. It’s not like you’re going to put that ad in front of them 66 times. There are many other touchpoints that need to be happening and it’s going to take time to get them there in many cases. But my point is, you’ve got to be willing to give programs enough time to be able to prove that they’re working before you jump to the next thing. And I think this is another common cause of random acts of marketing without people realizing it because they’re jumping to the next thing they’re going to test. Because clearly this one didn’t work for us.


Everything you’re saying, Deanna, what this is going back to is that lack of purpose or plan in the beginning. It’s throwing things at the wall hoping something sticks. That’s really what the issue comes down to is again, a lack of plan going into it. It’s easy to give up on a program because there was no plan and it’s quote unquote not working. What was the plan or what was the objective of that program? A lot of this goes back to being able to actually look at measurable results. I think when things are done so randomly, it’s really tough to do that. It’s virtually impossible to start to attribute marketing successes back to programs when there’s not a plan and everything is done randomly or half-heartedly. Or reactively instead of proactively, right? Right. You’re just reacting to things willy-nilly instead of saying, okay, what’s the next step? What’s the next step? What’s the next step? Like Deanna said, being patient with that and not saying, oh, it’s not working, let’s just try something. That’s where everything goes down the tubes.


Yeah, for sure. So, what does random acts of marketing look like in an organization? Let’s say we’re looking at an employee performance management platform. What type of marketing are they doing that at the end of the year, you could stand back and look at it and say, okay, that was somewhat random. Despite our best intentions.


I would say one of the things that definitely would constitute random act of marketing here would be in this example, okay, we need a blog. Everybody has a blog. We need to start putting blog posts out there. So what do we write about? Well, all random different topics, whatever comes up at that point, we’re just going to throw it out there. We have no plan on how we’re promoting this blog or doing anything beyond that, but we’re going to start a blog. That’s one thing I can think of.


And then, social media’s a big one. We brought it up a little bit before. We have to have social media, post, post, post. Forwarding something, liking something, but you have to have that social media presence. If you don’t have a rhyme or reason to it, nobody’s going to follow you. If you’re just putting anything out there or just copying and pasting, or posting for posting’s sake, which is just like content for content’s sake. You don’t have to post every Tuesday just because it’s a thing to do. I have a reason to post on social media and also pick the channels of social media. That makes sense. If you don’t have anybody on Twitter and you’re posting all over Twitter, what good is that going to do? Look at how you’re actually using social media and don’t just randomly go out there and do it just because that’s what everybody else is doing.


Yep. For sure. Another random act that I often see is the CEO will come to the marketing team and be like, we need to get a press release out there. We haven’t done a press release in a while. Okay. As marketers we should be like, hold up, what’s the purpose? What are we trying to accomplish? Do we have anything newsworthy? And to be quite frank, sometimes the things that companies will put out as press releases are not actually newsworthy. Why are you spending the time and the money to get this out there? The question is, if we announce something that’s happening in our organization, is it really meaningful to the people that we want to read it? Or isn’t it like, I’ve seen people do press releases to announce that they’re going to attend a trade show exhibit at the trade show. I’m sorry, that’s not newsworthy. You’re not going to sell more products because you told people you will be at the trade show. The thinking might be we’re demonstrating our commitment to this industry, that we know this industry, we know this space well. I would argue there are better, more impactful ways to do that than to send out a press release for breaking news that isn’t actually breaking news at all, or interesting, or relevant to people.


That definitely is a C-suite level request.


As marketers we should be looking back to them saying, what’s going to tell us that that was successful? Or what’s going to tell us that that did anything for us? Because again, I think Jenni mentioned this early on, but that goes back to, this is just what we. In 2005 we were putting a press release out about this trade show. Well, nowadays there’s a lot more efficient ways to get that information out there to your audience if you feel that’s necessary to advertise that you’ll be at the show or where you’ll be or how they can find you. There’s a lot of other ways to do that kind of thing than to spend the time and resource writing a press release and getting it approved and sending it out and all of that. What’s it going to tell you that that did anything for your organization? The answer is going to be, I’m not sure.


The same can be said about emails. Lot of times it’s like, we’ve got to get an email out, we’ve got to get in front of people, we’ve got to get an email out. Let’s just blast everybody. What good is that doing if your content or whatever you’re talking about isn’t? You’re just going to be spam, everyone’s going to call you spam, it’s not going to be relevant to anybody if you just are like, oh, we’re just sending an email out to get an email out.


The same could be said about doing webinars, doing event sponsorships. Doing all these different marketing tactics, we’re not saying don’t do this marketing tactic. It’s not impactful. The point is more this collective cohesive strategy that you have is everything working together to drive towards that goal. So if you’re doing an event sponsorship, for example, what else are you doing to build brand awareness in the market? Because that’s one piece of the puzzle. And the visitors who come to the event you’re hosting or the activity or whatever you’re sponsoring at a trade show. For example, they’re going to forget when they walk out that door in many cases. So, the key to make it not a random act of marketing is to have intention around not just that particular event, but what is the overarching goal that you’re trying to accomplish.


And in this case, it’s going to be brand awareness. What other things are you doing to continue that brand awareness effort beyond that one event? Because you want to keep in front of them to build real meaningful brand awareness. Ultimately the goal of affinity where they like you and they trust you and they want to choose you when they’re in market, takes more than one thing, takes more than two things. It takes many, many touches. So, you’ve got to be very intentional with the marketing that you do to say, we’re going to get this done and these are the goals and these are the things that are happening so that it’s less random and more purposeful in what you’re actually doing collectively from a marketing standpoint.


Right? And I think the same goes for a webinar, having that plan and that purpose for how we’re using that content. Not to just continue to pick on sales or other parts of the organization, but I think that we can all agree that a lot of times something like a webinar request or idea might come from another place in the organization. Somebody says, and maybe it’s product management or its sales, and they say, we should really do a webinar on this topic. We should talk about this product in the market, and we should do this, this, and this, and I’m going to present and I’m going to pull in this person to present with me and here’s the plan for the webinar. Well then as a marketer, we should all go back and think, okay, from a marketing perspective, how can we put a spin on this and create a plan in order to actually execute on it and make sure that the effort going into this one and done webinar is not going to be one and done. That we have a plan for the promotion to get people to register and attend, to actually execute and present and do that webinar and then following the webinar, how can we take and repurpose pieces of that content to continue to use that to our advantage in the future. From a marketing perspective, I think everybody stop what they’re doing to do a webinar for our blast out to our email list and let’s get people on this webinar.


That’s the random act, the going back as a marketing leader within your team to really think about how could we spin this random act into more of a plan and make sure that it fits within our goals and our mold for that particular time of the year. And really ultimately to have a plan there so that we can see success from this and again, leverage that content in other ways too.


Yeah. And again, it’s not saying don’t do a webinar that’s a bad idea. That’s not at all what we mean. The point is, how does this fit into the broader goals that you’re trying to do? And is it creating a cohesive experience or a disjointed experience when people are coming to your website to find resources, Googling you, interacting with your company in any way.


I think you also need to not be afraid to cut out the things that aren’t in that plan, right? You can’t be afraid to say no to things and to cut things out and to really pair down the things that you’re doing so that everything that you’re doing does fit a cohesive plan and works together for your ultimate goal.


I think we’ve talked a lot about why random marketing acts happen, but in a nutshell, why does this happen? How does it happen?


I think it goes back to the not having a plan. Being reactive, just taking requests, just doing things one off. That’s basically the whole reason it happens is because you don’t have a plan or you have a plan, you’re not sticking to it. You’re letting things get you distracted, letting things come up and take you away from the plan at hand.


And being afraid to push back and question these different requests from the other pieces of the organization, I think is also contributing to it.


Yeah, for sure. I mean, at times as marketers, we’re trying to do too much, which means we’re doing a lot of different marketing tactics, but there’s spread out so much that there’s no cohesiveness to them, there’s no consistency to what’s being done, and it just isn’t having the impact that you hope it will have. What goes hand in hand with that when you’re being very reactive instead of proactive is you’re getting distracted and you’re not hyper focused on what the goals are and what needs to get done.


Then the consequences of that is that you’re not driving results. You don’t have meaningful brand value. You’re not getting the awareness that you want to get. You’re not getting the message out there that you’re wanting to get out there, that you need to get out there to meet your goals. Because everything’s just all over the place.


Ultimately, you’re creating this vicious cycle. And I think this is whereas a marketing leader in an organization, at the end of the year you look back and you say, again, I’ve done a lot of things. My team has accomplished a lot of things. We have done this, this, and this. Here’s the list of things that we’ve done. But really this is where that data-driven approach and being able to attribute some of these successes back to marketing efforts becomes virtually impossible, is having that lack of focus in creating that vicious cycle of just, okay, this week, here’s the request. Next week, let’s do this. The following week let’s do this. And you’re really not focused again on that overarching plan or goal.


What do we recommend to combat those random acts of marketing?


You need to know what your goals are to begin with, because you need to know that in order to create your plan. And those are the two main things. Know your goals, create your plan, and then you have to stick to it. You just have to stick to the plan. Don’t let things get you distracted. Don’t let everything else take over your time, everything that you are doing, you have to think, how does this relate to what my ultimate goals are and is it worth my time? What is my return on investment going to be if I put this out there?


I think you have to question what you are doing often, and you have to be willing to say no to things. I think that’s a really hard thing for marketers to do. If your CEO comes to you and asks for something, it’s okay to say no if it’s not in the best interest of achieving the goals. That’s hard for people because the CEO has the power to say, no, you will do this. But every CEO I’ve ever known, if you explain to them and help them understand, and of course do it in a respectful way, they’re going to be like, you know what? You’re right. Thanks for keeping me honest.


As marketers, we are known to be people pleasers, right? We always want to be doing for others and making everybody happy and trying to get everything done. And we don’t realize that actually saying no in some instances and giving expert advice is better in the long run than just always saying yes.


And it’s a teaching moment within the organization. As the marketer, as the leader on that team, you should be able to push back and also explain why you’re pushing back and why you’re saying no. Ultimately. I think that one thing that would make this conversation easier in the long run is the more you can sit down with your team and start to show the data and show what’s successful and show why these certain pieces of the overarching plan are working and why maybe some things aren’t. This goes back to question what you’re doing. You start to really build up that trust within your team and people start to understand, oh yeah, you’re right. Okay, yep. Jenni told me that we shouldn’t be focused on that because this is our overarching goal, and you continue to show those data points. You have a mutual understanding of what success is going to look like and what you guys have determined is successful within these different programs.


For sure. You know, I think the key take aways here, stay the course. Don’t get caught in the cycle of random act of marketing because if you want to be impactful, you need to be focused and intentional with all of your marketing efforts. And in the long run, it will pay off with bigger growth.


Thanks for joining us on the Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech marketers brought to you by GrowthMode Marketing. We sure hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe from 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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