Seven Differentiators of Success for Your Strategic Marketing Initiatives (Part I)

In over twenty years of Marketing, I worked on many large cross-functional projects. Multiple CLM, CRM and Marketing Automation implementations; restructuring of a lead program responsible for millions of leads per year; Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction initiatives; Product Line launches; fully Integrated Marketing Campaigns; you get the idea. These projects tend to be critical. With regard to CRM, my friends at Merkle have identified 50% of high growth companies are more likely to see CRM as a key driver of success. In addition these high growth companies are 2.4x more likely than low-growth companies to have built/implemented excellent CRM capability. So successful implementation of these large scale projects can be the difference between high growth companies and low growth companies

It has been my experience that senior leadership in high-growth organizations truly understand the value these these initiatives bring to their organizations. They see them, and treat them, as strategic initiatives, critical to their organization’s success. Those that are less successful treat them more tactically. Which is a shame, because they fail to optimize the investment.

So what differentiates the successes from the failures? Why do large CRM implementations only meet CIO/CTO expectations half the time, according to Gartner, or only succeed about a third of the time according to Merkle? Why are so many disappointed by Marketing Automation, CLM, CE and other projects requiring a solid foundation in marketing technology?

Large cross-functional strategic initiatives often led by Marketing (e.g.- CLM, CE, CRM, Marketing Automation) lack:

  1. Executive buy-in and C-level commitment. There needs to be a champion (usually the CMO) supporting these initiatives at the senior level, with the champion’s peers in agreement on the key objectives and deliverables. The objectives of the initiative needs to align with corporate strategy as well. Everyone must agree that this initiative gets their support, and that roadblocks will be dealt with quickly and easily. Since these projects often require IT resources, the CMO needs to partner with the CIO/CTO. The CIO/CTO needs to champion the project within her organization. Each impacted senior leader needs to be actively engaged during discussion at the C-level, commit the resources, communicate down through their organization, empower their internal champion, and hold their team accountable for achieving initiative goals and objectives. Probably the single biggest predictor of success, in my experience.
  2. Management bandwidth. With executive buy-in comes the need for executive leaders to ensure there is management bandwidth. It is not prudent to simply add a large initiative to the plate of your manager or director without taking another commitment off their plate, either by reallocating other projects they own or are involved with, or potentially delaying implementation of other projects. You can only roll one giant boulder up a hill at a time successfully, add more and you risk more than one crashing down on the innocent bystanders below.
  3. Benefit realization. The project champion and project team need to define success. Identify the benefits a major initiative will bring to your organization. Work with your financial team to quantify the benefits. Communicate, and continually communicate the benefits across your organization. Show them the benefits, and then show them again. You can never overcommunicate. And then measure against those benefits so you can manage your progress. Have respected champions in your organization validate the benefits and offer testimonials as proof the benefits are real. Underperforming? Then figure out where you need to make adjustments. Overperforming, then check your initial forecasts to make sure they are real; see how else you can apply the initiative to amplify success further, or bring in the necessary resources or create the environment to make gains sustainable. And don’t forget to communicate when you overperform (did I mention communication is important?). Celebrate successes when you meet your objectives or KPIs.
  4. Process knowledge. Do you have good processes in place? If you have good process, and its well-documented, then you will have an easier time building your detailed requirements and matching to the technology which will best enable your process. Or, if the technology supports a different process, then you will have a better understanding of how your process needs to change to accommodate the technology. May or may not be worth the investment, but you can do the analysis (or I could help). Or similarly you can think about how to customize the technology solution to fit your process, and do that cost-benefit analysis to determine if the gains are worth the investment. Again, its all about taking a more strategic approach to your initiative.

These are just a few keys that apply to successful implementation. In the next post, I will touch on the impact of poor needs assessment, data availability and failing to plan/build a roadmap.

As always, I welcome your comments below. And if you want to talk to me about your strategic initiative in Marketing strategy, operations and technology, contact me at smintz@tds.net.