Foundational Marketing

Let's Get Real, You're Not A Magician: Five Tricks To Master Your Marketing Performance

By Trusted CMO

As a startup marketer for the last 22 or so years, there’s one thing I can tell you for sure. I am not a magician. People want to believe that one capable marketer can fix anything-slow sales cycles, poor name recognition, products that don’t meet customer needs, etc.

Great marketing can attend to those issues, but waving a magic wand once or twice does not make them disappear. Your colleagues may be disappointed to learn that magic doesn’t work that way. It’s hard to shatter illusions. You see it in their eyes. No Santa, no tooth fairy, no marketing magician?

Once you admit to yourself that you’ll never, ever live up that kind of expectation, things get a lot easier. You’ll have the freedom to make real changes and drive significant lasting impact. Here are some tricks that have worked for me:

1. Set only two big goals.

Setting your marketing strategy can get complex. You get a lot of input from colleagues on what they think marketing should do or change. Listen to it and synthesize that input. Then, choose the two big goals you need to focus on.

For example, for most startups, this may include building awareness and driving demand. Do not get into the details at this point, just pick those two big goals.

2. Imagine the ‘what if.’

Visualize a world where everything is working. You have crazy demand for your products, the press is calling you and customers are sending you gifts. Then work backward.

How would you have arrived at this place if you actually focused on those two big goals? What opportunities did you seize at the right time and place to make success seem magical?

3. Map your tactics.

Do not shy away from tactics. Face it: Based on my experience, tactics make up 90% of marketing. Great ideas do not happen on their own. Success is a lot of hard work, diligence and stamina. People win wars and get rich with smart tactics.

Map your steps to the “what if” scenario and run your list one more time against your big goals. Set deadlines, hold people accountable and say “no” (or “not now”) to anything extra.

4. Embrace the feedback.

Feedback is a trigger word for many marketers. When someone emails you saying they want to give you some feedback, it’s hard not to hit the delete button.

Reframe your thinking. Most people actually want to help, and they trust you enough to have a conversation. You do not have to act, but you do need to listen. You have a huge opportunity. By explaining your goals, your “what if” and your tactics, you can educate them at a grassroots level and open up a bilateral negotiation. Better yet, their suggestions may offer a shortcut or a surer way to get to your “what if.”

5. Find your secret society.

Soon, I am heading to a retreat with 45 other chief marketing officers. If you have the chance to join a small group of marketers for real conversations about your triumphs and struggles, do it. If everyone is willing to talk openly, the advice gained (and even empathy received) will likely amount to the best time you’ve spent in years on professional development.

As David Copperfield has been quoted saying, “The real secret of magic lies in the performance.” I believe this to be true. And to make that performance seem like magic, practice and master your tricks.

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