It’s never too early to get your house in order for next year.

This morning at FUNNEL and the Festival of Marketing, I listened to Adam Sharp from clevertouch, marketing automation specialists.

Adam outlined how the marketing department is changing, and what you need to be thinking about to prove that the marketing team is the place where fundamental change can be driven within the organisation.

Just 9% of CEOs and 6% of CFOs refer to marketing data for decision making, and when 65% of CEOs in the FTSE 100 are accountants, Adam argued that marketing needs know the CEO perspective of marketing.

The CEO perspective on marketing:

  • Revenue growth is high on the agenda (at last).
  • Selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A) is too large, with too much waste.
  • Marketing innovation…there’s no time for that!
  • Maintaining the cultural conversation is important.
  • ROI must be proved!
  • Marketing should now translate tech and its potential to the business. Marketers must be change makers.

Looking at this perspective, Adam argues there’s a compelling case in most B2B businesses to automate marketing.

Tech companies have traditionally been the early B2B adopters of new tech such as automation, then publishers and content companies have made the leap, and now that financial services have started to get involved, it’s clear the recession is coming to an end. More spending on automation from more sectors is inevitable. 

So, what should be the CMO priorities for next year? After all, the shops are already selling for Christmas, so it’s not too early to think or indeed prepare. 

1. Take new thinking to the sales organisation

Not just automation and getting your workflows in order. Consider social selling – proliferation of channels and devices and shifting demographics in the market means that the playing field of opportunity has grown. There’s more for your organisation to think about than ever before. 

2. Have a marketing plan

It’s surprising how few do, even in larger organisations. Again, in marketing automation, this is key. It can take three or months to properly plan out automation workflows, but they should take only a few weeks to implement, and once you’ve planned them, they can be reused. 

3. Put in place a marketing infrastructure

Focus on information architecture, not application architecture. You’ve got to remember you’re in charge of the company data. You have to know where it goes. You may think that you have everything in order – a settled email platform, a CRM etc, but these are still often siloes.

A marketing automation platform is a good way of having a consolidated view of the flow of data. The CRM system after all is only a basis of contacts.

If your infrastructure helps to free up time, it’s also important how you use data in campaigns. Should you be blasting out messages to all of your leads at once, or can you stagger your messaging over a number of months, helping to end the feast or famine culture of B2B.

Check out the Econsultancy Marketing Automation Buyer’s Guide

4. Evolve from brand manager to reputation manager

Social and data governance is all your remit. That’s a big change. You don’t just create the logo any more.

Here it’s also salient to note that marketing automation can also have many uses outside of lead gen. It has been used for:

  • internal comms
  • crisis management
  • market research
  • customer service
  • thought leadership
  • recruitment and training

5. Think differently about time

If your typical customer buying cycle lasts around nine months, why do your campaigns last only three? This is leaving much of the purchasing decision to chance.

6. Content: understand that it’s not always king

You need to think about infrastructure. If you don’t have it in place, you’ll still be able to churn out content but you won’t truly be able to scale to innovation because you won’t have enough time. Getting infrastructure in place for marketing automation will save valuable time.