What Are Your Top 10 Marketing Challenges?

Client-side marketers, what are the top 10 challenges you face? At a recent Frost & Sullivan MindXchange event, I joined a team of corporate marketers to address this question.

We learned that different companies and industries share many of the same problems. We suggested 30 ideas to address them.

  1. How to Gain Enough Access to Customers? Talking to customers is critical for successful marketing. Marketing needs to understand customers’ problems, worries and questions. And we need to understand each step in the customers’ buying journey. Yet, in many BtoB companies, sales may be territorial about customers.
    Ideas: Make sales a hero: celebrate sales contributions to marketing success (and vice versa). Liberally use your license to interview customers for surveys, newsletters, case histories, blogs and videos. Meet customers at trade shows.
  2. How to Manage Highly Variable Budgets? In many companies, resource availability is a perpetual question. Getting a new headcount approved isn’t easy. Marketing budgets can change quarterly or even monthly.
    Ideas: Prioritize relentlessly. Commit a substantial chunk of budget early in the year, so you have a known foundation program to build on.
  3. How to Align Internal Stakeholders? To develop content, marketing needs to align with product management, engineering and sales. In addition to gaining input, marketing also needs to prevent ad hoc product rollouts.
    Ideas: Overcommunicate: send “heads-up” emails about marketing activities weeks in advance. Integrate the marketing communications process. Establish a Marketing Council to involve these stakeholders.
  4. How to Link Marketing Strategy with Business Strategy? Many companies don’t have a process to translate business strategy into marketing strategy. Some companies lack a clear business strategy.
    Ideas: Get directly involved in setting business strategy and marketing strategy. Earn your seat at the strategy table by becoming the indispensable expert on customers.
  5. How to Present the Right Metrics? With all the Big Data available today, it’s a challenge to collect all the right metrics. How do you decide what’s most relevant to executives, internal clients and the marketing team?
    Ideas: Present to executives in person, so you can address questions in real time. Never send an email with your presentation attached; it won’t be read. Keep executive presentations brief. Focus executives on sales leads, sales pipeline and revenue. Within the marketing team, focus on metrics to diagnose opportunities and problems, hypothesize about them and address them.
  6. How to Get Agencies to Play Well Together? Getting a PR agency, content agency and ad agency to work well together can be a nightmare. Predictably, agencies fight over position, turf, budget and creative.
    Ideas: Bring agency principals together, face to face. Set firm ground rules. Assign clear roles and responsibilities. Yet, stay open to anyone’s ideas. Hold regular calls with the agencies all together (in addition to separate calls with each).
  7. How to Address Marketing Skill Gaps? As marketing evolves, new skill sets are needed — such as data analytics. In global companies, these skills are needed in each region of the world; they can be tough to find locally.
    Ideas: Make sure you match the right people with the right jobs. Train high-potential people in new skills. Hire. Outsource.
  8. How to Foster Communications within Marketing? In large marketing departments, silos may form around individual functions such as publications, communications, research, advertising or digital and social media.
    Ideas: Share information often: hold a 15-minute meeting every day. Apply a lean thinking or kaizen approach to break down boundaries.
  9. How to Gain Legal Approvals? Projects get hung up for days, weeks or months in legal review. That’s frustrating.
    Ideas: Make friends: take a lawyer to lunch. Camp on the doorstep of the unresponsive. Clarify what you need — legal input, yes; copyediting, no.
  10. How to Deal with Regulatory Issues? Industries such as finance, health care and telecom come with regulators. Regulations limit what’s possible in marketing.
    Ideas: Learn to live with regulation, while pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

No one can tackle all 10 issues at once. Prioritize what you need most. Tackle one or two at a time.

What marketing challenges would you add? What ideas would you offer? Add your thoughts below.

 

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