Four Make or break events for the market next week

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Make Or Break Events For The Market Next Week

A Busy Week Ahead

The global equity markets are trying to move higher but there are a number of make-or-break events due next week that could derail the budding rally. Top of the list is the US-China trade talks set to occur in Washington D.C. The US-China trade impasses has led the global economy to the brink of recesssion so traders and investors are wary of what may come from the meeting. The meeting, between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and top Trump Administration trade officials, is not expected to produce a new trade deal but it is expected to produce a positive development and lead to further talks at some later date.

The risk with trade is that the talks will not result in positive advance in negotiation, that the talks will deteriorate and the threat of tariffs will be intensified. Tariffs, surcharges on imported goods, have already sapped several tenths of GDP from China, the US, and the world, if that threat intensifies we can expect equity markets to plummet in response.

After trade, the FOMC is the next biggest threat to the rally. The equities markets corrected at the end of 2020 as outlook for FOMC interest rate hikes intensified, they have since backed off their timeline and trajectory and that has allowed the market to begin its recovery. The data shows US activity is still strong, if acceleration is slowing, and inflation is well contained so a dovish tone is expected in the statement. Anything different, especially the threat of future interest rate hikes, could derail the budding stock market rally.

A Showdown in Washington

The US Government shutdown is yet another risk facing the equity market today. Now in the 6 th week the shutdown shows no signs of abating. Rhetoric from the White House and Speaker of the House have set up a showdown that I think the Democrats can’t win; they can’t stop Trump from issuing a State of the Union from the Oval Office and obstructing immigration reform is not a label they can afford to bear. Regardless, continuation of the shutdown threatens US economic stability and GDP. Some top CEOs including Morgan Stanley’s and Goldman Sachs’ have stated serious damage could be done to the US economy if the shutdown doesn’t end very soon.

While trade, the FOMC, and the shutdown are all problems that could derail the market rally the most important even next week will be the earnings reports. Trade, the FOMC, and the shutdown are really only important for their potential affects on earnings, the earnings reports and the outlook for future earnings are what the market is valued on. At this time earnings growth is still on tap for 2020, and that growth is expected to accelerate by the end of the year, so the longer-term rally is still intact. Whatever happens between now and then is just noise (important, volatility inducing noise).

How to Plan Projects, Events, and Campaigns With Marketing Timelines

Guide Home
Chapter 1

How to Set SMART Marketing Goals

Chapter 2

How to Do a SWOT Analysis

Chapter 3

How to Find Your Target Audience and Create a Marketing Persona

Chapter 4

How to Select Marketing Channels That Drive the Best Results

Chapter 5

How to Select Marketing Metrics and KPIs to Monitor

Chapter 6

How to Determine Your Marketing Tactics

Chapter 7

How to Create a Marketing Budget Plan

Chapter 8

How To Create A Brand Positioning Strategy That Will Appeal To The Right People

Chapter 9

How to Define Your Unique Brand Voice

Chapter 10

How to Develop a Marketing Planning Process

Chapter 11

How to Prioritize 10X Marketing Campaign and Project Ideas

Chapter 12

How to Plan Projects, Events, and Campaigns With Marketing Timelines

Chapter 13

How to Create Effective Marketing Project Checklists

Chapter 14

How to Organize Your Marketing Management Process

Chapter 15

How to Effectively Measure Marketing ROI With Google Analytics and a Simple Formula

Don’t forget your gear!

Download your marketing strategy template kit now.

Written By

Nathan Ellering

Nathan is the mastermind behind CoSchedule’s content marketing blog. He’s got a knack for writing actionable content (no fluff here) and knows the secrets to growing your traffic. After joining CoSchedule in 2020, he’s grown the CoSchedule blog audience from 500 to over 400,000 monthly subscribers!

You’re hard at work documenting an actionable marketing strategy.

And now it’s time to map out timelines for all your marketing projects.

Marketing timelines make it easy for your entire team to see:

  • Which projects are coming up in the pipeline.
  • What they need to be working on right now.
  • When their deadlines are (so they don’t get missed).

Above all, they eliminate the panic of trying to map out projects and campaigns at the last minute.

In this chapter, we’ll walk you through how to create marketing timelines for all your projects and campaigns.

Table of Contents:

What Is A Marketing Timeline?

A marketing timeline allows your entire marketing team to see all projects, events, campaigns, and sales that will be happening throughout the year. They can be used to map out deadlines on a quarterly, annual, or per-project basis.

Why Should Your Team Have A Marketing Timeline

There are many reasons why a marketing team would adopt a marketing timeline into their overall marketing strategy.

  1. Timelines allow your team to see a full overview of which marketing activities are coming up.
  2. They allow you to (as we say at CoSchedule) plan your work, then work your plan. Planning ahead can mean the difference between a well-executed project and one that is thrown together haphazardly.
  3. Finally, they help keep all of your marketing tasks on track. These brief overviews can show each member of your marketing team at a glance what they need to get done for a specific project and more importantly when it is due. That means less stress and fewer missed deadlines.

Create An Annual Marketing Timeline

The first timeline your marketing team will need to create is an annual marketing timeline. These should contain every project, sale, and campaign that you plan to run in a year.

Why is a timeline like this so important?

Because this timeline is the one that you will base every other marketing timeline after. This is your home base so to speak.

So let’s move on to how to fill out the annual template that you just downloaded. In the bottom of your spreadsheet, there is a project notes section.

For each one of your projects, sales, and campaigns, fill out the:

  • Title.
  • The team that is responsible for this project.
  • The budget your team has.
  • Any resources you might need.
  • The goals you have.

It should look something like this:

Next, you need to fill out the start and end date of your campaign or project. These dates should begin the day you start your ideation (or planning process) for a specific campaign and end the day you complete your last report on said project.

The last thing you need to do in this section of your template is choose the color code for your project. This will be used in the top part of your template and will help you identify which project is which.

After that go up to the top part of your marketing template and fill in the color code on the dates that your project will be running, so it looks like this.

You can also merge the two sections by selecting Merge Across from the menu in Excel:

Repeat this process for every project until your timeline is filled in.

You can also create a more collaborative timeline by uploading your spreadsheet to Google Drive or another cloud-based program.

To convert your excel document to Google Sheets, go to your Drive and select Upload a File .

Select your annual template and click Open with Google Sheets .

After that Google should convert your template and you’ll be able to share it in Google Drive.

Organize Your Marketing And Sales Campaign Timeline

The next template we’re going to walk you through how to use is your marketing and sales campaign timeline.

Your marketing and sales campaign timeline is going to help track every sale and accompanying promotional campaign. This will help you avoid last minute planning or forgetting about a sale entirely. (After all, as a marketer you have a lot to do.)

Before you begin to fill in your template you need to figure out the list of sales and campaigns that you’re going to run for the year. Some common categories include:

  • Holidays
  • Seasonal Sales
  • Events
  • Anniversaries

If some of your sales recur annually, you can automatically add them to your calendar for next year. If you’re looking to add new sales, use the list above to get started or use tools like National Day Calendar for inspiration.

Once you have your list of events or holidays that your sales are going to be based on you can add them to your timeline on the left-hand side.

In your calendar highlight what times these sales and their campaigns will occur, so it looks something like this.

As you continue to scroll down your template, you’ll notice there are sections labeled for different marketing promotional tactics.

These are there so you can indicate to your team what tactics you’ll be using to run the promotional campaigns that are attached to each sale. Some common tactics are:

  • Social Media
  • Blog posts
  • Landing pages
  • Email newsletters
  • Press releases
  • Print ads
  • Billboards

You name it, you can probably use it to promote your next sale. Depending on what your company decides to do for tactics you can add or remove sections from your template.

After you’ve determined your tactics highlight each week of a sale that you’re going to be using a particular tactic, so it looks something like this.

In the case of this example, you can see that during the first two weeks of your winter sale you’ll be running an insert in the local newspapers.

Fill out each of your sales and campaigns until your template is complete.

Map Out Projects With Your Project Timeline Template

The next template in your bundle is your project timeline template. This template will help you break down each one of the projects and campaigns that you listed in your annual marketing timeline.

Why is a project timeline like this so critical? Each one of your projects is going to have multiple moving parts that can become hard to keep track of.

Your project timeline will help you see all of those moving pieces on a project or campaign-based level. This provides a more granular view of each project’s timeline, giving anyone working on each one visibility on when their part is due.

Your projects will be broken down into four phases:

Ideation

The ideation phase of your project planning is the first phase. This is where the initial idea of your project comes to fruition.

Your template should include the following steps:

  • Project plan: What does the overarching process of your project planning look like?
  • Initial launch: Decide when your official launch date will be.
  • Meeting set up: When are you meetings going to occur and who needs to be in which ones?

In your template, it should look something like this.

Planning

The next phase of your project is the planning phase. This is the phase where you need to determine everything you need to do to hit publish on a project. It could include things like:

  • Project scope: What needs to be completed to consider this project ready for launch?
  • Goal setting: What are you hoping to achieve at the end of this project?
  • Budgeting: What funds do you have to complete the project? Where are they going to go?
  • Work breakdown: Who is doing what on this project? What are their deadlines?
  • Contacts: Who are your key points of contact?

This is what it could look like in your template.

It’s important to note that some of your planning steps may overlap with one another and that’s okay!

Execution

Next is the execution phase of your project. At this point, you’ve hit the Go button, and now you need to keep track of everything that is going on.

How you decide to keep track of your execution process will be up to you. Here are a few things you could add to your timeline.

  • Project launch: When are you publishing your project?
  • Status and KPI tracking: What is the status of your project and what metrics do you need to track to make sure that you’re going to make your goal?
  • Objective execution: Is each objective you planned being completed?
  • Performance of project: What is the status of your project and can it run the full course of your plan?

In your template, it would look something like this.

This is one phase of your project where multiple steps will most likely be overlapping as you will be tracking a lot of metrics and data at one time.

Measurement

The last phase of your project is going to be measurement. In this phase, you’re going to assess the data you gathered and determined if the project was a success or not.

This phase usually falls into four steps:

  • Project debrief: Gather your team and talk about the successes (or failures) of the entire project.
  • Time and cost tracking: Was your project completed on time and on budget?
  • Goals met: Did you meet your goals?
  • Reporting: Are there any reports that you need to put together for those who were not an active part of your project?

In your template, this final phase should look something like this.

Each project that you complete will need its own timeline so be sure to keep a blank copy of this template handy at all times.

Plan Events Marketing Event Timeline Template

The last template in your bundle is your marketing event timeline template. This template will help your team organize an event from start to finish.

Why is a timeline like this important?

Even if it is small, there are still lots of moving pieces that need to be taken care of in order to execute an event smoothly. Your timeline can help keep you on track and allow you to plan ahead for what is coming next.

Four phases go into planning an event:

  • Planning
  • Promotion
  • Final Preparation
  • Post Event

Each one of these phases are broken down into different parts that will help you plan and execute your event.

You can remove or add things to these lists based on what you decide to do for your event.

Planning

The planning phase of your event usually happens six to eight months before your event takes place. Here are some steps you could take:

  • Ideation. What do you want your event to be?
  • Setting goals. What do you want your event to accomplish?
  • Defining roles and responsibilities. Who is in charge and who is taking care of what part of your event?
  • Determining when and where event meetings take place. Who needs to be at what meeting when?
  • Deciding how many attendees need to be at an event. Is your event being enacted on a large scale with hundreds of people or are you planning a small get together?
  • Setting an event budget. How much money does your event planning committee have to spend?
  • Finding your vendors and venue. Where is your event taking place and who will be taking care of details like food, music, etc.
  • Creating an emergency plan. What happens if something goes wrong at the venue, weather, etc.?

Fill in each part of your planning process and the dates it needs to take place on in your template.

As with some of the other templates and plans, it’s common to see tasks overlap.

Promotion

The next phase of your event planning is going to focus solely on promoting said event.

As a committee, you need to determine what channels you’re going to promote your event on, what tactics you’re going to use, and when each of your promotions is going to launch.

Some examples of promotions you could run are:

  • Social campaigns promoting your event.
  • Including event information in your email newsletters.
  • In-store signage
  • Printing promotional posters and more.

Once you’ve determined your tactics and promotions record their start and end dates in your timeline, so they look like this.

You can add or remove rows from this section of your template based on the number of promotions your team needs to run.

Final Preparations

The next phase of your event planning is going to be final preparations. These are the last things that your event planning team will need to take care of before the actual event takes place. It should include things like:

  • Confirming your vendors. Is everyone that you paid to help complete your event going to show up?
  • On-site run through (if needed). Do you have a significant change or part of your event that needs to be practiced in the space beforehand?
  • Creating your day of event timeline. Create a timed list of who needs to be doing what and when.

Add each of these on to your template.

Post Event

The last thing you need to take care of is your post-event debrief and cost comparison.

Your debrief should include the entire team and cover what did and didn’t go well and things you can learn from this recent event planning experience.

Your cost comparison should be a brief review of the budget you had vs. the money you spent. If you went over budget use this time to figure out why.

Record the days those meetings will take place in your template, and you’re done.

How To Plan Everything With CoSchedule

Now you know how to plan your entire marketing strategy into a marketing timeline. However, there is one big problem.

These spreadsheets are all pretty static. What happens if an event moves? You have to copy and paste everything into your timeline.

Which could lead to mistakes.

And missed deadlines.

And generally, make a mess of things.

What if there was a way to make it easier? A simple marketing suite that would help you plan an organize every facet of your marketing strategy.

That’s where CoSchedule comes in. Our marketing suite will allow you to plan everything you need to complete your entire marketing strategy all in one place.

With Marketing Campaigns in CoSchedule.

Marketing Campaigns was designed to keep projects and campaigns neatly organized.

So how does this all work?

Go to your calendar select Marketing Campaigns from the menu, and title your project.

Select the start and end date of your project and click Create .

From there a new window will appear giving you a one on one view of your project.

You can add in the different parts your project by clicking the + arrow in the upper left-hand corner.

So for example, let’s say we need to add a social media campaign to our project. We’d simply click the arrow and select Social Campaign from the content menu. Remember to title your promotional pieces so you can keep track of them all.

You can also change the color of each of these additional items, so you have a more organized view.

Finally, you can assign tasks to the members of your project by adding them to the task section of each of your content pieces.

You can assign deadlines, team members and set approval steps for every task.

If you have a series of repetitive tasks that is continuously being assigned in your projects, make it easier on yourself by creating a Task Template that you can apply to a piece of content whenever you want.

The more tasks you check off on each of your content pieces, the more the progress bar in your Marketing Campaign will move.

The more content pieces and people you add to your project the more the calendar will expand.

As you can see, CoSchedule makes it easy to transfer your timeline from a static sheet to a responsive calendar. Sign up for a two-week trial or schedule a demo to see what else CoSchedule can do for your team.

Go Create Your Entire Marketing Timeline With Ease

You have your templates. You have your timeline. Now plan your entire marketing strategy with ease knowing that you’ll be able to kick off your next project without missing a beat.

Ten Marketing Challenges that Can Make or Break Your Business

By Steve Unger November 04, 2020

The first issue in this series identifies and allows you to assess your company’s current marketing effort.

The second issue discusses the pivotal role marketing plays in a successful technology company.

Each of the other 6 issues identifies key challenges and presents strategies to address.

1. Issue Identification and Assessment

As the President or Chief Marketing Officer of a small to medium-sized technology company, are one or more of the following “hot buttons” for you?:

We’re having trouble planning the next product because we’re so busy supporting the product we just launched.

Our marketing folks are spending so much time working with Development they don’t have enough time to support Sales.

Our sales reps don’t have enough qualified leads and spend too much time cold calling.

It takes us too long to close a deal. How can we speed up our sales process?

How do we decide on the features for the next product?

Should we delay launching the new product to get more features?

We’ve grown to a size that our old way of doing things just isn’t working anymore.

How do we make our company more market- and customer-driven?

Are we getting the most out of our investment in marketing?

  • How should we organize our marketing group?
  • How far along is your company in each of these areas (Rate from 0 to 10, with 0 = no progress and 10 = outstanding progress)?

    We have a clearly defined sales model outlining the activities and time required for each selling step.

    We use our sales model to track each opportunity as it moves through the sales pipeline.

    Our Marketing group effectively supports Development, Sales, and the Executive Team.

    Our Marketing group does a great job of supporting our current products.

    Our Marketing group does a great job of planning enhanced and new products in a timely manner.

    We plan for and track the measurable results for all our marketing programs.

    Our Marketing group is organized in a way that works for our company.–“All the bases are covered.”

    We collect ample input from customers and prospects – including win/loss reports.

    We periodically review our Marketing function to determine where we should invest.

    We have a formal requirements database and product features are based on specific customer requirements.

    _____ Total Score

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    Evaluation

    80 points: Your marketing effort is stronger than most, and has the potential to be a major competitive advantage.

    2. The Role of Marketing

    Marketing is the “man in the middle”–mediating between Customers, Prospects, Sales, Development, and the Executive Team. As such, Marketing is pulled in multiple directions.

    Marketing is the critical intersection between Development, Sales, Customers, and the Executive Team.

    How Marketing impacts your organization:

    A
    Marketing touches Customers, Prospects, and industry thought leaders via press releases, magazine articles, briefings, brochures, trade shows, customer councils, advisory boards, and lead generation programs. In addition to performing market research, Marketing also conducts or commissions win/loss interviews and gathers input from customers and prospects on feature requirements via interviews, surveys, and focus groups.

    B
    Drawing on the information gathered both externally and internally, Marketing supports the Executive Team in developing business strategy by identifying market opportunities and generating and executing marketing strategies and plans that support attainment of business objectives.

    C
    Marketing works with Development to define requirements, plan products, and bring products to market. Marketing must assure the delivery of a reliable and “complete” product that includes documentation, training, and support. If relevant, Marketing also addresses upgrade, migration and “end-of-life” planning.

    D
    Marketing trains the sales force on new products, manages the HQ visits of customers, prospects, and industry analysts, performs Win/Loss analyses, and gathers input on customer and prospect requirements.

    3. The Classic Dilemma

    Marketing has an obligation and need to support both Development and Sales. However, the simultaneous demand and contention for limited Marketing resources may cause one or the other to lose out. Creative thinking is required to assure that the needs of all parties are met.

    Challenge #1: We’re having trouble planning the next product because we’re so busy supporting the product we just launched.

    Issue: Let’s face it, product launches are exciting. Months of energy have gone into creating a product that will (hopefully) enable Sales to make a breakthrough. Marketing is 120% absorbed in launch activities and training the sales force. The problem is that Development engineers are waiting to work on the next product and they need new product requirements NOW!

    Strategy: The answer lies in having a requirements definition process that is on-going and produces an “evergreen” requirements database. You may also need to have one headcount dedicated at least half-time to key activities in product planning.

    Challenge #2: Our Marketing team spends so much time working with Development they don’t have enough time to support Sales.

    Issue: This issue is a corollary #1 above. A close working relationship between Marketing and Development sometimes leaves little room for Marketing to support Sales.

    Strategy: Again, the answer may come in structuring product planning as an on-going “evergreen” process. Often some marketing staff must have their roles and objectives defined to explicitly favor sales support.

    Success Story: A software company in Palo Alto, CA assigned one of their four product managers to work primarily on product planning. This “product planner” supported the other product managers in planning activities while they continued to support the sales force. In this way Development had the input and direction they required, and Sales received needed support. Also, the Product Managers were less stressed and had greater job satisfaction.

    4. The Selling Process

    Identifying and understanding your target customer and documenting the selling process are critical success factors. Proceeding without this information is like taking a long road trip without having a map.

    Challenge #3: Our sales reps don’t have enough qualified leads and spend too much time cold calling.

    Issue: Sales productivity is an issue for many companies.

    Strategy: The first step is to identify your target customer–their characteristics and needs. This includes identifying the economic and technical decision makers as well as the influencers. At that point you can assess the key filtering questions. It may be possible to shift identifying and pre-qualifying “suspects” to lower level staff or outsourcing to a telemarketing company.

    Challenge #4: It takes us too long to close a deal. How can we speed up our sales process?

    Issue: Does this sound like your company? The sales cycle goes on and on. There are last minute problems and surprises. We waste time on prospects who just aren’t that serious.

    Strategy: To speed the sales process you need first to have thought through and documented your “sales model.” What are the step-by-step actions required to bring this sale to a successful conclusion? How long should each step take? This will allow you to track each opportunity in the sales pipeline and will also help weed out the “lookers” from the “buyers” early on.

    Success Story: An enterprise software company in Boston with a six month sales cycle analyzed their selling process and determined that getting a prospect to commit to a paid pilot project early in the sales cycle weeded out the “lookers” from the “buyers.” Also, the time to close was reduced by a month.

    5. Product Planning

    As the saying goes, “Quality. Cost. Schedule. You can have any two of the three!” Defining a new offering and getting it out the door is an exciting and challenging balancing act. The key is to do your homework in advance and then make skillful trade-offs.

    Challenge #5: How do we decide on the features for the next product?

    Issue: So many requirements. So little time. Not enough dollars to invest. And, each product has a life and momentum of its own. Are we designing for ourselves or our customers?

    Strategy: The features for future products ideally flow from a process. It begins with defining the overall objectives of the business, identifying market opportunities, and determining customer requirements. In the long-term, your company can succeed or fail to the degree that product planning supports a well-considered business strategy that truly meets customer needs. Maintaining an “evergreen” requirements database helps ease the burden at the beginning of the planning cycle.

    Challenge #6: Should we delay launching the new product to get more features?

    Issue: The promised delivery date gets closer. Commitments to customers have–rightly or wrongly–been made. Sales is screaming for the new product, but only if it has the feature(s) they require. Keeping the Developers and Test people tied up adds to the cost.

    Strategy: Here is where “creativity” comes into play. In general it is better to keep the train on track. If necessary to meet customer commitments, look for options for an “early” or “pilot” release to selected customers. Also look for opportunities to schedule rapid follow-on releases to enable sales ahead of the delivery of the required functionality.

    Success Story: A San Francisco software company analyzed which operating system was used the most by its customers. The company gave priority to delivering the new release on that platform. Releases for the other operating systems followed each month thereafter until the new release was available on all supported operating systems. The release was delivered on the promised schedule and customers were satisfied.

    6. Growth and Change

    Your company grows, the market changes, and you are challenged to turn the resulting process breakdowns into breakthroughs.

    Challenge #7: We’ve grown to a size that our old way of doing things just isn’t working anymore.

    Issue: Everyone knows that a company’s culture changes as a company grows. People are brought in who have worked at various other companies. Along with them come expectations about how things “should” be done. Communication and “checks and balances” become more structured and formal. What worked before doesn’t anymore. People get stretched to the breaking point. And, the associated breakdowns in business process can be most unpleasant.

    Strategy: Identify the breakdown in business process and treat it as a positive opportunity to mature the organization. Also, look for opportunities to leverage inexpensive Web-based knowledge sharing technologies to foster information exchange.

    Challenge #8: How should we organize our Marketing group?

    Issue: There are a variety of related questions. Should Product Planning be part of the Development function? Should Product Management be separate from Product Marketing? Should a Product Manager handle more than one Product? If so, how many products can a Product Manager handle? Should we have “cradle-to-grave” product management?

    Strategy: There is no one “right” answer to such questions. Each organizational structure has advantages and challenges.

    In general it is wise to remember that there are in-bound and out-bound aspects to Marketing. In-bound covers requirement definition and working with Development to bring a product into being. Out-bound covers the launch, training, and support activities required to bring a product out into the world. Balancing the demands of these functions is a challenge facing every Marketing organization.

    Also, it is important to remember that Marketing is a multi-faceted function. Marketing comes in a variety of flavors–market research and analysis, product management, product marketing, field marketing, channel marketing, industry marketing, partner marketing, and marketing communications.

    There are a variety of options: In some companies some Product Management activities are handled in Development or some Field Marketing Activities are handled in Sales. Or Partner marketing may be handled in Business Development. Some companies form product or product line teams. A flexible distribution of responsibilities is fine as long as all the bases are covered and it works for your organization.

    Success Story: The Marketing group of a start-up company was totally overloaded with product delivery. There were no Marketing resources to devote to lead generation. So the Sales department generated prospect lists based on criteria formulated jointly with Marketing, and then implemented a telemarketing program to pre-qualify prospects. Leads were generated, and the prospects? current and projected buying plans were documented in the summary report–providing valuable input to Marketing.

    7. Marketing ROI

    You are likely to miss the target if your marketing programs are not aimed at identifying and addressing the true needs of customers and prospects in a manner that produces measurable results.

    Challenge #9: Are we getting the most out of our investment in marketing?

    Issue: Investment in marketing is sometimes viewed as “discretionary”–at least more discretionary than other line items on the budget. Yet there are core marketing activities that must be performed or a company won’t survive. Beyond this minimum, however, there are any number of worthwhile possibilities. How do you choose?

    Strategy: In any given year, marketing programs should directly reflect the overall business objectives for that year. Make sure marketing programs are targeted to achieve measurable results. It is also useful to conduct an annual 360 degree “marketing audit” to systematically evaluate how well you are doing in various areas of marketing and where there would be the “biggest bang for the buck” of investment.

    Challenge #10: How do we make our company more market- and customer-driven?

    Issue: Many technology companies tend to be engineering- or sales-driven based on their history and the expertise of their founders. In one extreme, the company may only pay lip service to customer input, feeling that they know best and must “lead” their customers. In the other extreme, the company may impulsively react to customer input in a knee jerk response. Both extremes are counter-productive.

    Strategy: Customer contact needs to be built into the planning process at all levels. Executives, Development, Marketing, and Sales need ongoing customer contact. Ideally requirements should be linked to the expressed needs of prospects and customers. Win/loss reports can provide highly valuable customer/prospect feedback.

    Success Story: A software firm was being “spun out” from its corporate parent. It was critical to reassure and retain existing customers. The company sponsored 500 subscriptions to Fortune Magazine for the senior executives of its customers. Four times in the course of the year the magazine was delivered with a special outer cover carrying the company’s message. A relatively small software company that could never afford to advertise in Fortune appeared to be doing just that. An end-of-year survey showed a high degree of recipient recognition and awareness, and customers remained loyal.

    8. Summary of Challenges and Strategies

    We have discussed some of the most common (and critical) challenges in software product marketing–and proposed strategies to address them. The key is to be pragmatic and remain focused on identifying and addressing the true needs of customers and prospects.

    Maintain an “evergreen” requirements database to support on-going requirements definition.

    Dedicate headcount to product planning–at least one person half-time.

    Again, maintain an “evergreen” requirements database to support on-going requirements definition.

    Dedicate some headcount to supporting the sales force.

    Analyze your target prospects.

    Identify key qualifying questions.

    Transfer pre-qualification to lower-level staff or outsource it.

    Define and document sales model.

    Track sales pipeline by stage in sales model.

    Have Marketing support the strategic business planning process.

    Focus on “outside-in” product planning–based on the requirements of customers and prospect.

    Draw on “evergreen” requirements database.

    Identify and treat problems as business process breakdowns rather than problems with people.

    Leverage technology for knowledge sharing.

    Conduct annual marketing audit.

    Ensure that there are success metrics for every marketing program.

    Conduct or commission mandatory win/loss Reports.

    Support customer councils, advisory boards, and user groups.

    Link new feature requirements back to specific customers and prospects.

    Conduct or commission customer satisfaction surveys and focus groups.

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    Challenge Strategy
    1. We’re having trouble planning the next product because we’re so busy supporting the product we just launched
    2. Our marketing team spends so much time working with Development they don’t have enough time to support Sales.
    3. Our sales reps don’t have enough qualified leads and spend too much time cold calling.
    4. It takes us too long to close a deal. How can we speed up our sales process?
    5. How do we decide on the features for the next product?
    6. Should we delay launching the new product to get more features? Keep the “train on the track” using launch phasing and pilot programs if necessary.
    7. We’ve grown to a size that our old way of doing things just isn’t working anymore.
    8. How should we organize our marketing group? Consider trade-offs for various structures; determine what fits for your company and is the “lesser of evils”.
    9. Are we getting the most out of our investment in marketing?
    10. How do we make our company more market- and customer-driven?