“The ending is everything.”
–Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power
Following Greene’s Law 29, “Plan all the way to the end,” should come naturally to marketers. We all are familiar with marketing plans and setting goals, especially in the post-recession world, where tracking and revenue-generation reign supreme. Today the fundamental questions smart people ask about any act of marketing tend to be: What is the goal? and What’s the return on this investment?
Not for the Shallow Hals of the world, this law serves to illustrate—or reinforce—the importance of long-term planning. Without a clear destination, how can marketers set the path to get there? First we need to know: Is the goal of a given communication a broader branding one like visibility and awareness or a conversion-oriented one like subscribers, leads or sales? Each of these goals requires a different approach and messaging in order to fulfill. One size does not fit all, especially in today’s marketing world of extensive tracking and personalization.
Another illustration of this tenet lies in the hallowed alignment of sales and marketing. If marketing really wants to serve sales goals, then it needs to be aware of elements such as the quarterly/yearly revenue targets; lead volume numbers; lead types and transition protocols; and what constitutes an ideal prospect, for starters. How can marketers be held accountable for new revenue if they don’t how much the company planned for and how many and what type of leads are needed to get there?
By setting a revenue target (i.e., the ultimate goal), marketers can reverse-engineer the number of B2B sales leads (or B2C transactions) required to hit it. Once you establish a lead/sales quota, planning activities to generate and nurture them is the next obvious step. A content strategy along with a calendar—another standard planning instrument—informs the specific actions, and now you’re laying out in hi-def detail the exact stages to reach a desired business goal … and tying content directly to revenue.
Ultimately, forecasting = destiny. Thinking several moves ahead while understanding the context of larger trends gives marketers the ability to shape, rather than react to, outcomes. By having a clear vision through the sales pipeline, they become, to paraphrase Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez, players at the revenue table, as opposed to pawns.
Achieve revenue power—and marketing greatness—through solid planning.
This post is part of a series in which I explore in-depth how some of Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power relate to marketing.