How to Spot a Tactical Marketer

Tactical marketers are everywhere – cloaked in their favorite colors from the branding guidelines, blasting the database while crouched behind a promising mission statement. I know how to spot them because I used to be one of them before joining ANNUITAS (don’t tell my boss). The problem with being a tactical marketer is that it doesn’t typically drive perpetual revenue. B2B marketers need to understand how to approach demand generation strategically, and the first step is identifying the aspects of your demand generation efforts that aren’t delivering meaningful business outcomes. Some of the most common habits of tactical marketers are as follows:

#1: Tactical marketers are focused on the wrong metrics

According to a 2014 study by the Fournaise Marketing Group, 64% of marketers use brand awareness as their top return on investment (ROI) key performance indicator (KPI) and 58% include clicks, likes, and tweets in the top five metrics. Likewise, the primary goal of many marketing teams is to deliver a certain number of top-of-funnel leads, and then sales’ job is to turn those leads into customers.The problem with these measurements is that none of them add value to the business.They aren’t metrics that matter.

In his book Driving Demand, Carlos Hidalgo defines strategic demand generation as “a perpetual process that is both operationalized and optimized to Engage, Nurture, and Convert both prospects and customers along their buying process. A process that is designed to educate and qualify through the collaboration of marketing and sales activities with the goal of driving revenue and maximizing customer lifetime value.

The marketing contribution should be examined beyond simply the number of new leads added to the funnel – in fact, how many of those leads are qualified (and would sales agree with your definition of qualified)? What is your conversion rate at each lead management stage? How many leads actually become customers? How long do those customers stick around? These are the questions a strategic marketer asks.

#2: Tactical marketers aren’t operating off a strong foundation of buyer insight

I’ve seen some pretty fluffy buyer personas in my career. What does a cheesy stock photo and marital status have to do with understanding a buyers’ decision making process, business pain points, and content consumption preferences? Usually not much, which causes misguided content creation and a flawed lead management strategy. Developing truly effective buyer personas requires an in-depth exploration of each of those driving forces through interviews and third party research. If you don’t have the time to do it properly, hire someone who does.

The situation is even worse when marketing departments consider the sales team to be their customers rather than prospects. Sales tells marketing, “We need this campaign next week” and off marketing goes to make it happen as quickly as possible. Sales certainly can certainly offer extremely valuable insight into optimizing buyer engagement, but in order to develop a truly effective, sustainable program, marketing must work alongside sales to create a demand generation program that will keep sales so busy they won’t have time to put in one-off requests.

#3: Tactical marketers operate on a campaign-by-campaign basis

Here is a very common scenario for marketing teams: a new eBook gets created, an email goes out; a new white paper is procured, an email goes out, and on and on. Even if the sequence occurs on a consistent basis, it’s documented in a well-organized spreadsheet, and it feels strategic. However, it’s unlikely to Engage, Nurture, and Convert your buyers at a consistently high rate. Eliminate one-off campaigns that revolve around a specific content asset and focus on developing a perpetual program aligned with each stage of your buyer journey.

We all have a little tactical marketer in us tempting us to just report on the easy numbers and roll out campaigns as quickly as possible. But if your department wants to generate real business results, it’s time to kick those habits and become a strategic marketer and focus on the metrics that matter and drive perpetual programs based on buyer insights.

Author: Kayla Hrynyk @KaylaHrynyk Consultant, Strategy for ANNUITAS

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  • pat mcgraw
    Reply

    Great post – thanks for sharing. You can also identify a tactical marketer when you see they have more insight into the email platform or marketing automation software than the target audience or competition. (They are a favorite of mine – they will email anything to anyone because they think “Director of Email Marketing” is the title for “can make MailChimp sing” rather than understanding who needs to receive what information via email in order to sell more product. Yes, they too focus on ‘delivery percentage’ and ‘opens’ and ‘clicks’.

  • Nico Oud
    Reply

    I don’t think you’re right about the tactical marketer. You need both. The strategist sets high-level and long term goals while the tactical marketer makes the plans to execute and translates the strategic plans to small short term campaigns.

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