Governments repair and build roads. Utility companies run new transmission lines and fiber optics. And at home, we attach rain gutters to our houses and add-on new rooms. These are all examples of enhancing infrastructure. Even at work, we get new computers, new phones, and new desk chairs. Those too are infrastructure upgrades.
Sales and marketing organizations have infrastructures as well. Websites, sales collateral, CRM, marketing automation, and email are all examples of marketing infrastructure basics. How often does your firm evaluate the status of your marketing infrastructure? Do you have everything you need? What are you missing? Is everything working as it should? Like any infrastructure (roads, bridges, roofs, plumbing, etc.), a marketing infrastructure can become less effective if it’s neglected. And a neglected marketing infrastructure will eventually lead to ineffective marketing plans and missed revenue targets.
Marketing infrastructures should be evaluated at least once per year. If it’s been more than 12 months since you’ve evaluated yours, then don’t put it off any longer. Now is the best time to ensure that your organization has what it needs to drive marketing and sales performance. Below are six steps that may help.
1. Review Growth Objectives
The first step in evaluating your marketing infrastructure is having a clear understanding of what that infrastructure needs to produce. What was your revenue last year? What is your revenue goal this year? What is that goal based on? Is it a reasonable expectation? What are the performance metrics that will give you insight into your progress toward meeting your growth objectives? It can be helpful to “reverse engineer” your sales and marketing process to conduct a sanity check on your goals and establish these KPIs.
Knowing your average revenue produced from a customer will allow you to calculate how many deals you need to close to meet your revenue goal. Knowing your average close rate will allow you to calculate the number of proposals you need to present. And knowing historical Lead, MQL, and SQL conversion rates will help you calculate the number of leads you need to generate and the number of campaigns you need to execute.
2. Conduct Internal Assessment
Once you have a clear understanding of your goals and the corresponding performance metrics, you need to have an honest assessment of last year’s performance and the expectations for this year. The key word is “honest." It’s important to solicit input from all the stakeholders in the business – the executive team, the marketing staff, and the salespeople. Did you meet your revenue goals last year? If not, why? What were the obstacles that got in the way of growth? What could you have done differently? What are your revenue goals for this year? What has changed from last year? Do you need to do things differently? Have your obstacles to growth changed? What is the plan to overcome these obstacles?
3. Consult with a Third Party
Sometimes getting honest input and assessment can be challenging within some organizations. Competing agendas and CYA mentalities hinder open communication. In these instances, challenges, obstacles, and gaps may be known by some, but not brought to light for the entire organization to address. A trusted third-party may be helpful. They can facilitate “safe place” discussions, ask hard questions, and challenge preconceived ideas.
4. Identify Gaps
With a clear understanding of revenue targets, performance KPIs, and obstacles to growth, an organization can now evaluate their infrastructure. Do the tools that you have work? Are there tools and technologies that would improve effectiveness? Is the content/collateral current and relevant? What needs to be updated, changed, or eliminated entirely? What needs to be added?
Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know. How do we know what tools, technologies, tactics, etc., are available? Again, this is where a trusted third-party resource may be helpful. Or, you can tap into your network and ask your peers at other organizations about their marketing tactics and the infrastructure that supports what they do.
5. Prioritize Needs
Once the gaps are identified, you should develop a “gotta have” list of resources you need to update or add to your infrastructure. Start researching potential solutions and identifying investment requirements. Most organizations don’t have unlimited resources, so they must prioritize. It’s not always the cheapest that gets the “green light.” Impact to revenue (ROI) and time requirements should also be considered. Put everything you can’t execute this year on a ”wish list” and use it the next time you re-evaluate your infrastructure.
6. Don’t Get Paralyzed
It can be overwhelming when the gaps are large, and the obstacles are many. Being overwhelmed with what you have in front of you may cause you to delay action. I urge you to take small bites and keep moving forward. Otherwise, you will be facing longer odds and bigger challenges next year.
Need help getting started? Download this free Marketing Infrastructure Checklist to help you identify the gaps and opportunities in your marketing infrastructure.