Marketers are stretched thin, tasked with achieving ever more while working with dwindling resources. Marketing budgets have fallen year on year, according to Gartner, which found that 75% of CMOs are grappling with the directive to do more with less. “Given a finite budget, balancing spend across awareness, demand generation, conversion, and loyalty and advocacy is one of the toughest jobs in marketing today.”
Growth Marketer Kiley Sheehy empathizes. “People are just so overwhelmed,” she says.
How can marketers find their way through the chaos and regain a sense of control? Being ruthless in their prioritization and saying ‘no’ to new marketing initiatives that won’t impact their key metrics. And those metrics should be chosen with careful consideration.
Gartner advises marketers to focus their efforts on KPIs that clearly connect to business outcomes. Kiley goes further, suggesting marketing teams should only choose one or two focus metrics where marketing “can absolutely move the needle”.
“Then, you can be really strategic about the sub-projects, sub-campaigns, sub-initiatives that will move that metric,” says Kiley. ”The biggest thing is to keep it simple.” She realizes this hyperfocus could be difficult for some marketers. “Every growth marketer has FOMO. There are so many things that they can be doing and they want to be involved in all of them." She shared her advice for marketers who want to find their way through the mire.
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Make sure everyone’s clear on your focus metrics
By narrowing in on one or two metrics, it’s easier to manage the marketing team’s resources and not get distracted by ideas that won’t have an impact on these metrics, says Kiley. But this approach only works if there’s companywide agreement on the focus metrics, so the sales team, product team, and executive teams are all moving in the same direction.
“Determining those metrics has to be a collaborative effort,” says Kiley. “Be specific about what they are— everyone needs to be really clear on what it means and what success looks like,” says Kiley. “Then, if there's a suggestion or a pitch for a project or campaign, you can dismantle it and say, these are the things that will help us with this metric, and these are the things that are out of scope. “
If the focus metrics have been decided outside the marketing team, “you need to be really confident in saying, this is our bandwidth and this is actually what would make sense for marketing to chase,” says Kiley. Then you can build out your marketing roadmap with everyone on board.
Give your projects time to see results
Kiley notes that marketers’ sense of FOMO can lead them to prematurely abandon initiatives, and “jump from project to project”.
“Give yourself six weeks or 12 weeks to run a webinar programming, to ruthlessly evaluate your SEO or Google Ad presence, or the conversion rate on your landing pages—whatever your goal is,” says Kiley. Once you have that data, that’s when “creativity, fun, playfulness, and just different testing, iterating can come into play.”
This period also serves as an opportunity to identify initiatives that warrant further investment. “If you test something, you can say, ‘well, we could scale this or be more creative with it down the road,” says Kiley. “But you need to give yourself the chance to evaluate something really, really well before you can make those guesstimations.”
Review regularly, but avoid whiplash
Regularly reviewing key metrics is best practice, ensuring alignment with business objectives. However, it's crucial to distinguish between reviewing your metrics and making constant changes to them. Kiley emphasizes the importance of stability: “It's good practice to make just to make sure that your performance is in line with the business wants it to be,” says Kiley. “But that metric shouldn’t change too often. I hate it when organizations are faced with whiplash.”
But, notes Kiley, that doesn’t mean that you can't pivot when you need to.
“The good thing about having that ultra-light framework where you’re only focusing on one or two metrics is that you can pivot your activities really quickly and easily,” because you’re not spread too thin. “You can be super nimble.”
Be realistic about what you can achieve
Keeping it simple isn't just about sticking to a couple of metrics. It’s also about being realistic about what you can do to move those metrics in a short timeframe, particularly when you’re operating on limited resources.
Kiley encourages marketers to set achievable goals for the next 12 months. "That's so much more achievable than saying, 'I'm going to change the world' when you're just one person."