Want to impact the market? First, influence your business.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, and expecting a different result.
(They also say Albert Einstein said those words, which is a matter of some debate. But we digress…)
Marketers are famous for being hungry to explore new pastures, earn new responsibilities, and drive their business’s success. But they often think the best way to do it all is by editing yet another really cool brand mantra video. (Piano triplets, anyone?)
If you want to do something truly different, you need to change your relationship with your company and its senior leadership.
You need new Agreements that define how you operate.
Doing something different takes courage. And it’ll definitely scare some people. But if you have a foundation of trust, you can build something really special. Here are what we call “The 8 Agreements.”
(1.) We shall create a process that begins at the beginning.
Marketing uses tactics to reach goals, true. But too often, people start at the end, conjuring up a glossy tactic without knowing why it should exist. The first Agreement is to start at the very beginning. Align on the Mission of your company. The Model it uses. And the Goals, Objectives and Key Results you want to hit.
The Unified Marketing System Guidebook, lists a series of 13 sequential questions marketers must ask if they want to be successful. Guess what?
Tactics don’t even pop up until question 12.
(2.) We shall ensure all team members have defined roles.
At its best, “collaboration” is specialists completing discrete parts of the same puzzle. At its worst, collaboration is a mess of overlapping roles and circular conversations. To get the human resources you need, you should outline the key functions each team has, identify who is accountable for each one, and fill any holes right away. (Guess what, there are eight of these, too!)
- The executive lead is the decision maker. The one who the organization has given the power to say, “Yes, do it!”
- The administrative lead is the project manager. This is the person who herds the cats, makes the meetings, and reminds people of the deadlines.
- The financial lead is often missing from marketing discussions. That is a mistake. They need to be there to advise on how money is being spent – and how fast.
- The market research lead is the expert on the customer. That makes him or her one of the most important people in the room.
- The creative lead decides what the tactics look, feel and sound like. These are the only things the consumer ever actually sees, which makes them awfully meaningful.
- The reporting lead doesn’t just tell you what worked. He or she analyzes it so you know what to do next.
- The sales lead represents the team that’s interfacing directly with customers. Their anecdotal information is key, especially in B2B environments.
- The product lead is another person who is often excluded from marketing decisions. But it’s a two-way street. He or she may have key information on what you’re selling, and you might have key information on what product attributes need to be tweaked to suit consumer needs.
(3.) We shall agree on a big goal and (4.) break it down until it feels manageable.
Imagine telling your CEO you want to hash out 8 Agreements. And he or she responds, “We only need one agreement – find us customers!”
Most c-suite goals are too big to be realistically measured on any but the longest timelines. So you need to turn them into a manageable series of steps called Objectives and Key Results. OKRs made their way into the lexicon in the 1980s, but they got a big boost when they were adopted by Google. The idea is simple. You can accomplish enormous things by breaking them down into a series of small, achievable OKRs. (Want to see them in action? In an earlier post, we used OKRs to help us make soup. Read it here.)
Make sure your business agrees not just on which mountain to climb, but on the right path up the hill.
(5.) We shall have meetings, but not too many meetings, and (6.) they shall be honest and transparent.
For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of the average Joe in Accounting. To him, marketing seems to operate in a black box, manipulating formulas and sharing content that may feel disconnected from any end goal. The first time Joe might see your new spot is when it appears on TV.
Bringing people along means agreeing to a regular meeting cadence. At estound, we use the Entrepreneurial Operating System’s weekly L10 meetings and 90-day Meeting Pulse. But the key is to keep the meetings. And then to keep them honest, sharing progress towards OKRs and being clear about which ones are on or off track.
You don’t need to turn every meeting into a feedback session. But you do need them.
(7.) We shall have a budget that reflects our goals.
In too many companies, budgets are created either by working backwards from a list of tactics. (“One video plus 26 Instagram posts plus two trade shows equals, um, let me get a pencil…”) Or by using the previous year as a baseline. (“Let’s see, we spent X amount last year and we need 10% more customers so the new budget is 110% of last year’s. That’s math!”)
Neither of these scenarios is ideal.
Ultimately, Marketing should agree to budgets based on facts. What is the Lifetime Value of a Customer? And how much are we willing to spend to get one? Once you know those numbers, you’re primed for a budget you can make a difference with. (You can read up on how to calculate it in our post, “Why You Don’t Need an SEO Case Study.”)
(8.) We shall all chase the same customer.
Our marketing superpower is the insight we have into the customer. So it’s critical we agree on who that is. The Unified Marketing System identifies four things businesses have to know:
- Who the consumers really are.
- The problem they are trying to solve.
- Whether they have the means and authority to solve the problem.
- What they will gain by solving the problem.
Agree on those elements, and you’re well on your way.
Changing everything starting with aligning on 8 things.
So we did it, right? With those 8 Agreements, we established a perfect, harmonious workplace guaranteed to…
There will always be friction. That’s how people operate, and iron sharpens iron, as the saying goes. But by formalizing the 8 Agreements above, you can make sure you aren’t having the same old conversations – and expecting a different result.
We all know what Einstein apparently didn’t say about that.