How to Create and Execute Marketing Strategies to Hit Business Goals

How to Create and Execute Marketing Strategies to Hit Business Goals

Now more than ever, marketing needs to demonstrate its value to the business and meet the expectations of executive leadership. Especially in times of environmental uncertainty and change, it’s vital that CMOs be able to draw a direct line between marketing activities and business outcomes.

There are many forces in play that can make creating and executing a marketing strategy even more daunting. Specifically, Gartner sees:

  • Rising and possibly conflicting expectations of marketing’s role in driving growth
  • Environmental uncertainty forcing changes to enterprise identity and strategic direction
  • High levels of cross-functional collaboration that’s fraught with dysfunction and drag
  • Shifting digital ownership within the enterprise
  • Ever-higher expectations for marketing productivity thanks to accelerating AI adoption

CMOs must navigate through this landscape to be successful, but “success” can mean different things in different organizations. For example, when asked about what CMOs are held accountable for by their CEOs, Gartner found a relatively even distribution of answers across commercialization, strategy and enterprise P&L.

Charting the Path Forward

Knowing exactly what your CEO believes you should be driving is the foundation of any executive’s success, but managing the perceptions of the C-Suite and other key stakeholders is also critical. Ideally, CMOs should be seen as leaders and in charge of go-to-market strategy and partners that are credible business enablers. However, it’s more typical for CMOs and their function to be perceived as a transactional service delivery organization, taking orders and missing a true seat at the table.

To change that perception, CMOs must change their approach. Rather than take on more work to demonstrate impact through productivity, marketers should ruthlessly prioritize to focus their function on the work that creates the biggest business impact.

The best way to “get strategic” is to develop a marketing strategy that addresses the most critical goals. You can do that by using the three P’s of marketing strategic planning.

Use the 3 P’s of Marketing Strategic Planning To Drive Business Value

Just like there are the four P’s of marketing, there are 3 P’s you can follow to drive alignment with stakeholders, create measurable marketing plans and ensure both the strategy and its execution drive overall business objectives. These P’s are priorities, progress and pivots. Let’s walk through each in turn.

1. Pick Your Priorities

Marketing is rarely funded to support everyone’s needs. Given that, CMOs must be proactive in creating shared clarity about which enterprise-wise goals the function will support – and which it will regrettably need to deprioritize. The process of creating alignment around the business priorities marketing will support allows CMOs to set expectations early, and heads off a host of downstream political headaches.

There are five steps to develop and maintain strategic alignment:

  1. Identify key stakeholders
  2. Conduct stakeholder interviews
  3. Gain agreement on the most critical priorities for marketing to support
  4. Validate that marketing’s involvement is needed
  5. Sustain ongoing stakeholder management and engagement

2. Show Progress by Mapping Marketing Activities to Business Outcomes

Many marketing plans have huge gaps between long-term business goals and the mix of short-term tactics identified to achieve the business objective. It’s very important that each of your marketing tactics can be directly tied to moving the needle on the business outcomes you’ve prioritized with your peers.

To sustain ongoing stakeholder interest and alignment you need to regularly report out on how marketing activities are contributing to the metrics the business uses to measure success. You must show how marketing activities are moving the needle – effort alone won’t impress.

3. Pivot When Needed

Life is full of change, and change can require strategic pivots. Marketers must be agile and should expect to proactively address issues and risks. This can include stopping initiative execution in order to reallocate funding to newly identified priorities.

Effectively managing strategy execution takes robust processes and stakeholder engagement.  Therefore, marketers should be:

Using execution scanning processes weekly to identify and address execution barriers

  • Meeting monthly with stakeholders to reinforce cross-functional understanding and commitments
  • Scheduling quarterly plan reviews and establishing processes to surface competitive and environmental changes that could impact strategic plans
  • Enabling greater impact by depoliticizing reprioritization and pivots

By structurally anticipating the need for pivots and continuously evaluating execution and prioritization together with their stakeholders, CMOs can depoliticise reprioritization efforts and increase their overall influence and efficacy.

Alignment between the C-suite and CMOs is more important than ever in today’s business environment. As such, marketing must show its value to the business by ruthlessly prioritizing to focus marketing on the most strategic work that will create the biggest business impact. To do this, marketing leaders must implement the “3Ps”: priorities, progress and pivots and be scrupulous in their connection to stakeholders and delivering direct value to the business.

Claire Alexander, a senior director analyst in the Gartner Marketing Practice, is presenting live on this subject and others at the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo™ 2024, taking place June 3-5 in Denver.


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