Now is the time of year when CMOs around the world find themselves putting the finishing touches on their marketing plans for 2024. The disruption and uncertainty created by global events, gridlock in Washington and emergence of AI has only complicated the process, leaving many marketing leaders wondering, what should my marketing budget be?
Before you can confidently answer that question, you must back up and ask a broader one – do I have the right business goals for 2024? Will my marketing plan support what my company wants to accomplish in the new year?
These are questions I wrestled with as CMO of Gateway Computers back in its heyday and as the CEO of an Inc. 5000 ad agency. You can check out more on that here in my new book, Ask and Deliver (link to Amazon book order page).
I’ve ground out award-winning marketing campaigns on the West Coast in sunny San Diego and Silicon Valley, and in the gritty heart of the American Midwest. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that before you can set a single line item on your marketing budget, you must start your marketing plan where all successful ones begin – with concrete goals and rock solid data. Ask. Listen and then Deliver.
I use a simple three-question rubric to set goals. I ask myself:
What do I want to accomplish?
What marketing trends can I leverage?
How will I measure success?
Asking. Listening and Delivering are the keys to any strategic plan. Good data in = good data out.
Then, I ask my managers and leaders to do the same with their teams and in their areas of responsibility.
Let’s answer those one at a time.
Your goals will define your marketing strategy, and they must support organizational goals to be effective. CMOs have a hard time gaining the trust and buy-in from their CEOs and are often considered the least influential member of the C-suite.
There are often two reasons for this – a lack of understanding about the value and purpose of branding; and a failure to align marketing strategy and branding activity to operations and organizational goals. For more on this, check out my new Amazon #1 Bestseller, Ask and Deliver. Discover the heart of your business by listening to the voice of your customer.
The first can be resolved by educating leadership about what branding is and how marketing helps achieve company goals. The latter is on marketers to make sure their marketing strategy and advertising campaigns are saturated in customer insight and designed to drive bottom line results.
The first step in creating a successful marketing strategy for 2024 is setting your goals. Start by asking lots of questions, like:
It’s natural for marketers to dive into tactics. We are responsible for executing strategies that drive growth. But, we must pause first to set our goals. Otherwise, our tactics, while executed flawlessly, may not achieve the right goals.
So, spend some time with your team thinking about where you should focus your efforts to support overall organizational success.
In a recent CMO survey, respondents said they plan to allocate their spending in the following ways (percent selecting category as part of marketing budget):
If you aren’t sure what your marketing goals should be, gain clarity on company goals for the upcoming year and look for ways to align your activity with the achievement of them.
This remains a crucial but often overlooked step in marketing strategy. Amid the rush for quick results, it’s essential to establish upfront how success will be measured.
Defining metrics in advance not only streamlines tactic selection but is pivotal in demonstrating the tangible value and return on investment (ROI) of marketing efforts to CEOs aligning with company goals. If a tactic’s success cannot be effectively measured, it may be prudent to reconsider its implementation.
Consider thought leadership, valuable for enhancing personal brands within an organization, yet challenging to measure. The difficulty lies in connecting the time and resources invested in content creation and promotion to concrete metrics like customer acquisition or revenue goals.
For situations demanding measurable outcomes, opt for integrated marketing campaigns utilizing lead generation, digital media, and paid social tactics. These activities offer direct tracking capabilities, tying efforts seamlessly to new leads and sales—more likely to address the concerns of CEOs and CFOs seeking clear connections between marketing initiatives and business outcomes.
My internationally award winning and full service advertising and marketing agency, OBI Creative, (link to OBI) helps CMOs and their companies to set effective marketing goals with budgeting targets, research tools, media buying, marketing strategies and killer campaigns.
If you’d like some help making 2024 a banner year, connect with the OBI team today.
Or, for the reader in you, Forbes recently published my book, Ask and Deliver. Discover the heart of your business by listening to the voice of your customer. It’s already hit #1 so check it out for yourself here. I welcome your thoughts, reviews and feedback.