It’s that time of year again! Whether you’re just beginning to plan marketing campaigns for 2016, or finalizing all the details, there was no better time to get some advice on making the most of your marketing budget than attending AMA Boston’s “Marketing Planning Best Practices” workshop at General Assembly on Tuesday night. These AMA Boston members and guests got some excellent insider tips from moderator Michael Phelan, founder of Go-to-Market Pros, and a panel that featured experienced marketing executives from the tech, health services, and footwear industries, whose LinkedIn profiles you can see below. If you weren’t able to make it, here are a few key takeaways:

 

  1. Get clear goals from your C suite. It’s impossible to craft a marketing plan without knowing what to aim for. Carter Holland, CMO of TraceLink, advises marketing professionals to get a “growth goal from company leaders before developing a plan.” Alan Gonsenhauser, of research director of CMO Strategies at SiriusDecisions tells his clients to follow a 6 step process that begins with aligning marketing goals with the C-suite.
  2. Don’t just add budget to last year’s plan. The panel noted that a common mistake marketing professionals make is working from last year’s budget and plan and merely adding on top of it. Make sure your plan focuses on the company’s strategic priorities for the future.
  3. Consider developing a tiered marketing plan. Carter noted the perks of having a tiered marketing plan. Have a baseline plan and then consider some nice-to-haves.
  4. Make sure you reconcile product growth needs with customer needs. Brian Cusack , industry director at Google, advises aligning what you need to do to deliver your strategic goals with what the customer actually needs. You can use tools, many of them free, to model these needs.
  5. Understand that customer behavior is changing. Changes in buyer behavior play into budget allocation. Alan noted that there an average of 19 people are involved in the B2B buyer journey. Kristin Smith, VP of Digital at StrideRite recommended helping buyers understand the criteria for making a decision – becoming less of a vendor and more of a partner. Michael called this moving from “a carnival barker to a concierge.”
  6. Craft marketing plans that understand the importance of creating urgency. Brian recommended that B2B marketers show clients either potential growth or how they are losing to competition. Prospects can listen to advice over and over and take no action. Michael noted that the “biggest competition is actually no decision.”
  7. Plan to stand out in an explosion of content in 2016. The panel discussed the increasing importance of creating good quality content. Kristin noted you need to optimize all the time, testing and learning. Alan suggested taking 70% of what you have and throwing it away. Carter boiled it down to budget, time, and effort.
  8. Craft a plan that harnesses the power of video. The panel noted that video is underutilized and highly effective. Carter pointed out that the brain processes visual content 60,000 times faster than the written word. “You’ve got to try to stuff and then measure it,” he said.
  9. Get your customers talking about your company using testimonials and promotion opportunities, noted the GM of the Consumer Analytics Division at AltiSource, Ron Rubbico.  

The panel discussion was followed by a fun and exciting group exercise, in which the attendees developed marketing plans for each panelist’s organization. A common theme across the night was the importance of understanding consumer behavior and applying that to your marketing budgetary allocations for 2016. Be sure to check out the American Marketing Association’s many free resources and toolkits for building a marketing strategy.

The Boston chapter of the AMA thanks Michael Phelan, all the panelists, and all the attendees for a stimulating evening. We hope to see you at one of the highlights of the holiday season, the AMA Boston Holiday Party – save the date of December 10th and watch for more details!