In fact, you should strive to give them what they didn’t even know they wanted.
I may have made you hungry with that example, but I did it for a reason. I want you to envision yourself meeting their needs, without waiting for them to tell you what they want and without you asking how much they plan to spend on that sandwich.
You need to deliver the goods. Here’s how you do that:
Be Prepared to Manage Up
In a perfect world, you’d walk in to your next 1:1, say “howdy boss! What’s the happs?” and be handed company goals for the new year as well as your marketing budget. You know this is unlikely. I know, because I’ve been there. After 10 years of working with CMOs and CEOs, I have yet to have this type of direction delivered to me on a silver platter. Your CMO may not have been given their budget yet (or may not be disclosing it). They may not even know what their plan is. That’s why you are going to be prepared for the ambiguity of it all. You are going to explain to them the opportunities and help them understand the potential.
Building an Internal Budget/Goals Pitch Deck
Here’s the approach I always take. Armed with my data from the prior year, I prepare to explain to the CMO components of the plan I do know, such as:
At each point, even though I may not have the specifics to attach to my incredible playbook, I am always prepared to go deeper for the inevitable questions (why did you choose this? Have we done this before? Did this work last time? How does this support the strategy?).
I like what Margaret Magnarelli of Monster said in Chief Content Officer magazine.
“She … got her boss to invest in her and her program by figuring out what kept him up at night and solving for that, as opposed to solely focusing on her own goals.”
If you come to the table offering solutions and a modular plan you’re in an advisor position. Don’t just be an order taker. Think up what you want to serve, prepare it, and present that sandwich like fancy waitstaff at a 4-star restaurant.
Less Homework, More Insights
Another lesson I learned from one of my favorite managers, that applies every time I am working to convince a CMO of something I want, is to avoid giving them “homework” at all costs. Create a scenario where the only “I’ll get back to you on that” comes from you (as in, thank you for agreeing that my proposal holds opportunities for us to increase conversions, reach and revenue next year. I’ll contact your assistant to set up a time next week that I can follow up on the ideas we discussed today).
No CMO likes homework. By homework, I am speaking broadly here -- I mean they shouldn’t leave the meeting with additional things to do to make your program complete aside from get you budget numbers so you can plug them in and company goals so you can tweak the approaches. They should not have to exert a brain cell to be convinced that your idea and plan shine.
Attribution should be your BFF
Attribution can be done with simple tools like Salesforce.com, Google Analytics, and a marketing automation system. You have those things? You’re on the right track. It’s just time to put them together. You can also read about how to put it all together here in Marketing Land’s article.
Why am I making such a big deal out of this? Your CMO wants to see why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you can even hint at understanding where each of your customer profiles is at in the funnel with your attribution paths, you’re going to be doing better than 75% of marketers out there.
It also helps drive your trusty staff, the sales department and everyone involved in getting the product or service to people. At the end of it all everyone will know what was sold, how much money was made, and what points in the journey mattered. You can legitimately point back to things that have worked, how you measured their worth and what it means to closed business. It’s the holy grail of mixed sandwich/Indiana Jones metaphors.
The causation between content and conversion matters. Help them understand why.
Experimentation or Failure, you be the Judge
It’s a reassuring and helpful way to get started. I love the topic of failure. Jesse Fowl, Founder of Solomon Solutions loves it too:
"If you want to do the biggest, best, most impactful thing, you have to be willing to fail very quickly and often to be able to win first. Whatever business you’re in, one thing remains true: whoever innovates fastest gets to reap the rewards of being the first in an innovative space. But that cannot happen without risking, and embracing, inevitable failures along the way.
Look, not every sandwich is going to be a winner. Everyone has off days. Marketing is the same way. This does not mean you should back out of the room (sandwich in hand) and sulk to the corner to eat it after the cheese gets weirdly translucent.
Failure is an incredible way to gather more information. But the word failure freaks people out, let’s be honest. What if we reframe it? Let’s call it experimenting.
When you’re on the path towards greatness with your 2019 marketing plan, as you most likely are, leave a little room for experimentation. So, let’s say you do 80% what has worked and leave 20% of your resources to experiment.
What if you don’t try new things? You’ll eventually be left behind by companies who are keeping up with changing times, channels and strategies. And if you plan to experiment during the year, you’ll show your organization that you’re being proactive to find new and more efficient channels to bring in leads. You win!
Daymond John believed in FUBU when he was sleeping on a stack of shirts in his van at night, waiting for the next day and the next festival. He believed in it all those times he hung around outside LL Cool J’s house, trying to get him to wear a piece of FUBU gear.
He didn’t land in the Shark Tank by asking how much budget someone had to buy a shirt. He made what he believed in and convinced the world it was needed.
Now that’s a way to build a tasty success sandwich.
If you’re interested in learning more about planning for 2019, there are a couple of resources you might helpful. Erika Heald and I discuss the benefits of the one-page marketing sheet in this video. You can also find a recap of a tweetchat on the “Keyword Research for Content Marketing Planning and Editorial Calendaring”. Or feel free to reach out to me. Planning for the new year can be stressful. I’ve been through it and can help you navigate the waters, build trust and create a plan that works.
I'm a veteran digital marketer whose career has grown up with the Internet.