Nag Nag Nag

This is the fifth is a series about how the CMO should plan for 2010 and 2011.


One definition of nag is: “To scold, complain, or find fault constantly.”  Having picked up Olympic style points from the sainted MIL on nagging, this posting is intended to more than gentle reminder that your planning for 2011 should be 80%-90% done…in short it is a nag.

As I mentioned earlier (here, here and here) by this point you should have a very good idea where 2010 is going to end up, you should have received clear messages from management regarding your 2011 budget and you should have a good understanding on what worked and what didn’t work in 2010.  (You do have all this information, right?)

Other messages from management, conveyed clearly or perhaps just implied, are that expectations are being set for “better” performance in 2011…going back to the days when you were told to both increase market share and margin. (Which you have done before successfully, right?)

In all likelihood your budget for 2011 will be down flat or down, with perhaps a reduction in staff by replacing the lowest performing member with someone “better” in the mid-year time frame. (And getting that green light in June, won’t be any problem??)

From Bernanke on down, economists and talking-heads are forecasting a “bumpy” and “difficult” period as we work out the Great Recession.

With this knowledge and context, now is the time to put forward plans for 2011.  Three concrete low cost marketing plans are:

  1. Increased focus on the installed base.  Selling new products or up selling up to the installed base is the least costly sale you can make.  You know who they are, they know you, and you know how they are using your products.  Going to them with an added feature, new product, tied-in service etc., both strengthens your relationship and has the potential to increase revenue.
  2. Increase your social media presence.  One or more of the social media channels fits your company, be it LinkedIn, twitter, Facebook, blogging, or specific user groups.  Being active, both by following and contributing, increases your visibility, works to enhance your brand and has the potential to increase leads.
  3. Launch a new product on a “beta” basis.  Google has perfected this to an art form, and there is no reason why you can’t follow suit.  Take the current output from development and launch it as a “beta” to a defined part of the market, be it geographic or vertical.  Use the feedback to improve the product when you make it fully available later in the year.

As noted previously, those companies that engaged in aggressive marketing during the Great Depression not only survived, but came out winners.  The same will hold true for players in the Great Recession.  Holding back, hunkering down and waiting for the storm to blow over is a sure way to lose market share, customers and profitability.  Going after customers and providing a significantly differentiated product, where the value proposition is clearly understood, is the path to success.

So if your CMO and management has not done these, give him a nag with a proposal for 2011.

RHM  9/20/2010

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