The pressure to deliver measurable results can quickly turn the excitement of a new marketing leadership role into overwhelming panic. You feel like you have to prove yourself at every turn, knowing that your performance during the first six months will directly impact your future.
Where do you even begin?
The truth is that you can’t accomplish everything overnight, no matter how capable and enthusiastic you may be. Legacy projects need to be managed and completed, fires need to be put out, relationships need to be built. To manage all of these moving parts and still be able to contribute the most value possible, you’ll need to identify opportunities for quick wins.
There are two ways to accomplish this:
- Find out what’s already working and do more of it. Identify and double down on the 20% of activities, strategies, and tactics that are already getting 80% of the results.
- Spend less time and money on what’s not working. Identify and reduce (or eliminate) the 80% of activities, strategies, and tactics that are only getting 20% of the results.
The Pareto principle “states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.” The exact percentage doesn’t really matter — it could be 90/10 or 99/1 — the principle is the same.
Is it possible that the 20% that’s been working may not work next month or even tomorrow? Of course. Change is constant, and this isn’t about guarantees. It’s about focusing on options that offer the highest probability for success with the lowest risk possible.
Generally, the only way to discover those 80/20 activities is through trial and error. Experimentation takes time, something that you most likely don’t have in abundant supply. A great advantage of being new to your role is that you’re the beneficiary of past experiments. You don’t have to start from scratch in order to discover what will work and what won’t. By leveraging past success, you can focus on the actions with the highest potential impact in the shortest amount of time.
Let’s get started.
1. Review Past Performance
First, identify and organize existing marketing tactics, content, and performance metrics, including:
- Content marketing assets like ebooks, white papers, videos, blog posts, newsletters, webinars, and slide decks.
- Website landing pages.
- Direct mail collateral.
- Social media channels.
- Pay-per-click campaigns.
- Email subscriber lists.
- Customer relationship management and marketing resource management databases.
- Prospecting emails and content used by the sales team.
- Traditional marketing collateral like sell sheets, brochures, and trade show materials.
Review the Data
Gather and review KPIs — leads, acquisition cost, conversions, closed-won, mind share, engagement — and identify both the best and worst performing tactics. Organize each into three categories:
These are the tactics that already contribute to revenue. An example might be a YouTube video PPC campaign that’s delivered outstanding traffic and engagement at a low cost, or an email campaign that’s performed better than others.
These are the tactics that are still eating up resources despite their poor performance. Maybe it’s an underperforming Facebook page, or a piece of outdated and irrelevant marketing collateral.
If you can’t identify a tactic as either a clear winner or a clear loser, then set it aside for now.
Identify the Gaps
Identify the opportunities to achieve quick results by filling the gaps in your current marketing process.
- Format: Are there opportunities to repurpose your best performing content? Can a successful series of white papers be turned into videos, blog posts, and slide decks?
- Topics: Does your content represent all stages of the buyer’s journey, or is it leaning too far toward one end at the expense of the other?
- Funnel: Are specific parts of the funnel broken? Do you generate leads, but fail to nurture and convert them into customers (or vice versa)?
2. Ask, Observe, and Listen
Now that you’ve found opportunities for improvement, it can be tempting to just jump in and start fixing things. The key to remember is that other stakeholders are an invaluable source of deeper insight, and their involvement can make or break your ability to accomplish these goals.
There are many possible reasons why these opportunities haven’t already been leveraged: inertia, politics, ego, unwillingness to admit mistakes, cognitive dissonance. Before you move forward, you want to understand how these changes may impact others in your organization. While your fresh eyes may help you see what others have missed, their insights and experience will be critical to helping you understand these options at a much deeper level.
Questions to ask your team and other stakeholders:
- If you could eliminate any ongoing project or tactic, what would it be?
- Which tactics or strategies should be expanded on, and why?
- How can my team better support you in achieving your goals?
In addition to answering specific questions, you want to get a good sense of:
- Their impression of marketing in general and how it directly impacts them.
- Existing roles (understanding who does what) so that you can improve collaboration while avoiding territorial disputes.
- The personal dynamics within your company. How do things get done?
Based on what you’ve learned from your research, identify the top opportunity from the clear winners, clear losers, and existing gaps. For example:
You’ve determined that 60% of your converted leads come from webinar registrations originating from two underfunded Google Ads campaigns.
Your team collectively spends three hours a day interacting on Twitter to generate traffic to your website, but engagement remains low.
While the webinars are generating a healthy number of quality leads, you lack a consistent long-term lead nurturing system, resulting in high attrition.
4. Create a Plan
Rather than get bogged down trying to achieve too much (while also dealing with other projects), focus on these first three opportunities. Set an aggressive deadline to ensure that they remain a priority.
Double down on your clear winner (60% of your sales qualified leads come from webinar registrations originating from two underfunded Google Ads campaigns).
Action plan examples:
- Increase campaign budgets by 50%.
- Closely monitor webinar signup conversion rate for any changes.
- Maintain open communication with sales to ensure that lead quality remains consistent.
Reduce resources used on the clear loser (three hours a day interacting on Twitter with little engagement).
Action plan examples:
- Meet with team to identify benefits of maintaining Twitter activity. For example, while it may not generate measurable traffic yet, there’s value in continuing to use Twitter to engage with influencers.
- Assign Twitter activities to one team member with a time limit of 30 minutes per day.
- Redirect time saved toward other projects.
Fill the existing gap in your marketing funnel (lack of content for long-term lead nurturing, resulting in high lead attrition).
Action plan examples:
- Identify existing content that can be repurposed into a long-term campaign with existing email lists.
- Assign team members to create new content.
- Schedule short weekly meetings to brainstorm additional ways to create value for your email subscribers.
Being new to a role is challenging, but the benefit of coming in with fresh eyes is that you’re perfectly equipped to take advantage of opportunities that others may have missed. For more ideas to help you make the most of your first few months, see the suggested reading list below.
7 Tips To Be Successful As A New Marketing Manager (https://www.inc.com/john-lincoln/7-tips-to-be-successful-as-a-new-marketing-manager.html)
How to be Successful at Starting a New Job (https://www.topresume.com/career-advice/how-to-be-successful-at-a-new-job)
CMOs in transition: How to make your first 180 days a success (https://cmo.deloitte.com/xc/en/pages/articles/cmos-in-transition-how-to-make-your-first-180-days-a-success.html)
The CMO’s First 100 Days (https://www.cmo.com/opinion/articles/2016/4/27/the-cmos-first-100-days.html#gs.eLgRios)
How to Rock Your First 90 Days as a CMO, Featuring Meagen Eisenberg (https://terminus.com/blog/rock-your-first-ninety-days-as-a-cmo-with-meagen-eisenberg/)
Momentum And Inertia: A CMO’s First 30 Days On The Job (https://www.forbes.com/sites/philjohnson/2013/10/08/a-cmos-first-30-days/#6bcf59ac6a74)
How to Impress Your CMO in Your First 12 Months (https://www.bigdropinc.com/blog/impress-cmo-first-12-months/)
8 Steps to a Successful First 90 Days as a B2B CMO (https://www.brandingmag.com/2017/08/15/8-steps-to-a-successful-first-90-days-as-a-b2b-cmo/)
What Every CMO Needs to Focus on in their First Three Months (https://www.proposify.com/podcast/077)
What to Do in Your First 30 Days as a Content Marketing Manager (https://marketinginsidergroup.com/content-marketing/first-30-days-content-marketing-manager/)