Yet most of those efforts are not what the folks formulating high-level business strategy consider “mission-critical.” Which is why, in many enterprises, marketing doesn’t have a seat at the table for those strategy sessions.
Marketing can play a major role in business strategy. In the most successful enterprises, sales and marketing work hand in hand—working from the same playbook, executing a single strategy towards a common goal. To get there though, you have to rethink what “marketing” means for your organization. There will always be a place for events and tchotchkes. But marketing’s primary focus should be developing sales-ready leads and helping sales close them.
For companies serious about growth, marketing is accountable for meeting specific revenue targets each quarter and fiscal year. It’s called “Revenue Marketing.” And, by tying marketing efforts directly to the bottom line, it puts marketing where it should be in an organization: right next to sales, shaping the future of the business.
The term “Revenue Marketing” was originally coined by Debbie Qaqish, Principal and Chief Strategy Officer of the Pedowitz Group (you may have seen her presentation at Citrix Summit 2019). At its core, the concept is about separating the “fluffy” aspects of marketing from those we can link to hard, quantifiable revenues. Ultimately, it comes down to accountability.
Dr. Qaqish argues that marketing’s job should be to build a marketing engine that achieves specific results (for example, delivering X number of sales-ready leads next quarter, or generating X number of qualified leads in this region where the company is expanding). The company then holds marketing accountable for delivering those results. In turn, by working through the Revenue Marketing process and hitting those numbers, marketing becomes a key player in planning and executing business strategy.
The idea of linking marketing directly to revenues isn’t new. But it has gained steam in recent years as the costs of selling continue to climb. Good salespeople are expensive. You can attach a dollar amount to every minute your salespeople spend on the phone, at customer sites, and chasing leads. As companies look for ways to help sales be more efficient, corporate boards and finance departments are increasingly looking at marketing budgets, asking what kind of return they’re getting on those investments.
Good marketing leaders ask the same questions: How can we help sales close more deals? How can we be a stronger driver for growth and competitive advantage? This is where the Revenue Marketing journey starts.
The Revenue Marketing evolution
Typically, a company’s evolution towards Revenue Marketing proceeds through four basic phases:
- Phase 1 – Traditional Marketing: This is where most companies still operate, with marketing functioning largely as the tchotchke department. There’s lots of branding, lots of events, but none of it is tied to a specific financial outcome.
- Phase 2 – Building a Lead Generation Engine: Marketing has narrowed its focus and role in the company to generate leads for the sales. This is an important evolution, but it’s still largely tactical. Marketing may be sending out emails, launching Google ad campaigns, investing in promoted posts on social media. These activities can yield results, but they’re not part of a coordinated effort with sales, and no one is measuring them against specific revenue targets.
- Phase 3 – Strategic Demand Generation: Marketing is now expanding into more sophisticated demand generation activities. They’re starting to use advanced marketing automation tools linked with CRM systems, map the customer journey, and track every customer interaction. Marketing isn’t just generating leads, but cultivating qualified leads. They’re executing programs to educate and nurture prospects, so they can bring sales in at just the right time when the customer is ready to buy.
- Phase 4 – Full Revenue Marketing Integration: Marketing has become accountable for meeting target numbers every quarter and fiscal year. Marketing now operates a mature, scalable demand gen engine, and works with sales to set objectives and execute campaigns. Sales now relies on marketing to help them source the right segments and accounts and spends its time closing deals with customers who are pre-screened and ready to buy.
Once you’ve reached Phase 4, marketing is an important voice in the business strategy. They’re now responsible not just for their own costs, but they share accountability with sales for forecasting the pipeline, generating revenue, and achieving specific ROI metrics. Additionally, marketing now operates a mature, scalable, largely automated demand gen engine. Whenever the business wants to target a new vertical or segment or region, the process is already built and ready to deploy.
Revenue Marketing in action
What does all this look like in the real world? Imagine you’re a company that specializes in IT solutions for hospitals. You want to expand into a new region, say Florida, where you don’t have any presence today. Marketing and sales would get together to define the objective. For example, this year, we want to acquire 20 new accounts from small and midsize hospitals in this state.
Once the target is agreed on, marketing jumps into action. They could start with an awareness campaign in target regions of the state. It could be a demand generation campaign, where experts provide digital education on best practices for hospital IT departments. It could be an in-person event offering to show smaller hospitals what leaders in other parts of the state or country are doing.
The marketing team is still being creative—often even more so than what they were doing before. The difference is, all these interactions are now in the service of a clear objective, with a strategic and tactical plan to achieve it. And, at the end of the year, there will be measurable results. Did marketing deliver those 20 new accounts, or do we need to shift our strategy and/or tactics?
Marketing’s efforts are also now organized to deliver “sales-ready” leads. No longer is it just about collecting email addresses at an event and handing the list over to sales to start cold-calling. You’re now using marketing automation tools (like the ones that come with every Citrix Partner Kickstart campaign) to track potential customers from the first touchpoint. You’re serving those customers targeted digital content (blogs, white papers, infographics, videos) on topics they care about, and establishing your company as a thought leader in this space. You’re calculating “scores” for each prospect, based on the number of interactions, customer attributes, and other factors. Now, when you hand sales a lead, that customer has been nurtured through multiple interactions and is ready to have a serious buying conversation.