You’re always busy, but what’s your legacy?

Marketing people always seem ‘busy’. There’s always lots of ‘stuff’ to do and lots of stakeholders to keep happy. But being busy often stops us from taking a critical look at what we’re doing.

Is my marketing effective? Am I doing the right things? Can I measure my contribution to the business? And more importantly, am I creating long term value for my business?

After your annual plan and budget are locked and loaded, it’s time to crack on with the execution. This is the fun part because marketers love being busy and doing ‘lots of stuff’. However, my observation is that very few marketers create long term value for their businesses. Their marketing programs are like a sugar hit for the business. A campaign might generate short term results, but when the campaign is finished, you are back to the beginning. Time for another campaign.

Aside from the tactical campaigns and ‘in-year results’ I believe marketers should think more about how they can create long term value for the business – or ‘marketing capital’.

You’re probably familiar with the classic ‘tombstone test’ where you are invited to encapsulate your life’s achievements as if they were on your tombstone. Quite confronting actually. But you can apply this principle to your marketing: what would your leaving email look like from your current company? Apart from all the ‘thankyous’, people normally take the opportunity to highlight their key achievements. Legacy management if you like.

I think you are doing well if you can cite three significant projects or initiatives that have generated long term value for your organisation. These are things that will exist, and create value, even after you leave. So that great campaign doesn’t belong here. It’s finished. If you’re out the door, there are no more of those great campaigns. This is where you need to think about marketing activity v marketing capital. Below is a sample set of things that sit in the ‘marketing capital’ bucket. My advice is to start writing your exit note now, then start planning for your legacy initiatives.

  1. Creation or development of a brand that drives future sales
  2. Development of the skills and capability of your team
  3. Setting up of new relationships – channel, agency, partner, vendor, media, analysts, etc
  4. Creation of a team culture that drives high performance and staff engagement. Does the culture encourage collaboration and learning? Does it reward success?
  5. Marketing strategy. A marketing strategy, based on insights and data is a powerful asset for your business. You know all the bits and pieces that go in here, but alongside this, you need to have quantifiable metrics, budget and execution calendar. It’s a package.
  6. Design or improve marketing processes. This part doesn’t seem like much fun, but well-constructed marketing processes are key to a well-oiled marketing machine. Consider processes such as opportunity qualification, lead flow, social content production, annual marketing planning process, campaign development and execution, sales enablement, reporting dashboards and nurture journeys
  7. Creation of valuable content and marketing assets. Think videos, whitepapers, blog posts, sales tools – and don’t forget your website
  8. Turn your one-off tactics into ongoing programs. In other words, don’t create a one-off activity, create a ‘template’. For example, don’t just do a one-off event, create the template for an event that happens every year.