5 Eye Opening Traits of High Performing Marketing Orgs

Exclusive Research from Salesforce

High Performing Marketing Orgs
This is a guest post by Mathew Sweezey, the Principal of Marketing Insights at Salesforce.com and published author of “Marketing Automation for Dummies.” He speaks at over 50 events per year around the world on the topic of marketing, as he tries to clean up the perception others have of marketing. Find him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Salesforce recently completed new research identifying the key traits of high performing marketing organizations, and the results are eye opening. The data from over 7,000 marketers around the world provides a roadmap to becoming a high performing marketing organization, and the findings are surprising!

The most surprising discovery is, marketing tactics don’t matter. The data shows high performing marketing organizations out-perform their direct competition at a rate of 96.3X even though both high and low performers use the exact same tactics. High performing marketing organizations also see 2-3X the value from the same tactics as the under performers. So what separates the two?


Key Trait #1 – A New Idea of Marketing

Above anything else, high performing marketing originations all had one thing in common. The highest performers had full executive support. In fact, 82% of high performing marketing organizations had full executive support.

This does not mean their executives believed they needed marketing, or even that they needed more marketing, but rather they had full support to work on a new idea of what marketing should be.

The new idea of marketing was simple; marketing’s role is to create experiences not messages. A great example of the difference between the two can be found in the viral “Ship My Pants” commercial. It was a massively successful advertisement, even won a Cannes Lion that year, yet it was a message, not an experience and it ultimately failed.

Upon seeing the advertisement you may need to find your local Kmart store. After Googling the store you’d be greeted with the local ratings and reviews. When I did this in Chicago I found an average rating of 2.9 for my local stores. If you bypassed the physical experience and opted for a digital one you’d have been greeted by a broken website. As I was, which can be seen in the images below.


After these two bad experiences with Kmart, my perception of the brand is much worse off than when it began. The ad worked, the experience failed. High performers know even great marketing can’t make up for bad experiences.

They also know that marketing now this means marketing must take on a new role within the business. Marketing becomes the primary value, surpassing the value of products.

The new idea of marketing also means the business understands the experience becomes the highest economic value your firm creates, altering the entire business model.

Just compare Tesla and Benz. Notice Tesla sold 3X as many cars in under 24 hrs as Mercedes did all year. Telsa also did this with 1/150th of the advertising budget without the car even existing. The difference is their business model; they understand the value of experience and role of marketing as the primary business driver, not the product.


Key Trait #2 – Bigger and Better Budgets  

High performing marketing organizations also have very different budgets to fulfill this promise. Currently, high performing marketers plan to increase spending across every marketing line item at a minimum of 39% in 2016.

The best in class marketing budgets should be broken down based on the growth stage of the business, and look like the following.


Key Trait #3 – Tools to Create Experience

On average, high performing marketing organizations use 14 tools to create a cohesive customer experience, while under performers use only 5. It’s not just the amount of tools, but rather, what the tools are doing when combined together. High performers effectively use tools to create personal experiences.

A great example of this is Cardinal Health, who used their tools to dynamically alter their site for each person creating a ‘zero click’ experience. Meaning the individual did nothing to find exactly what they wanted. Cardinal health brought that to them, rather than making them search for it. This also allowed to create a $47million pipeline for a new product in under 5 months.

Room and Board used dynamic content to help its customers to complete their room designs more efficiently. By leveraging dynamic content they were able to increase online sales by 50% instantly, netting them over $700,000 in sales in the first month alone.

High performing marketing organizations understand it’s not about just creating or getting tools, it’s about having those tools work together to create personal experiences instantly for each and every person.


Key Trait #4 – Agile Building Methods

Techvalidate found it takes 42% of marketers 2-5 weeks to create a single piece of content, and 1/3 of marketers it takes an average of 7 weeks! If you run the basic math and only have three products, three buyer personas, and three stages in a buying cycle – that’s a total of 27 pieces of content. Following these timelines, it would take you 54 months (at best) and on average 2.4 years to create just one piece of content for each stage in your marketing program. The way we view building content is horribly flawed.

Agile is the modern production method.  It’s just a better way of building things. The key to agile is simply understanding in our world now we have instant feedback, and we should be using it to improve our assets.

There is a lot to mastering agile workflows, but let me give you the secret: the power of agile lies in the review. We must ask those engaging with our marketing what they think about it, and to do so, I propose you following the method below.

Pick up the phone and call. Here is all you need to know.


 Key Trait #5 – Collaboration

The highest performing marketing organizations also all had one more thing in common – they excelled at collaborating. High performers were 17X more likely to be considered excellent at collaboration across the entire customer lifecycle.  Businesses too often forget that marketing’s role is about an experience, not messages. This means the full experience is crucial, not just getting them in the door.

High performing marketing organizations are better because they have this understanding, and put someone in charge of the entire customer experience and lifecycle. I’d suggest looking at your own internal structure and find room for a Chief Experience Officer. Their role is to work across all departments to ensure a holistic, and consistent customer experience. Without someone managing the customer experience in each department, the departments will operate on their own metrics, and the experience will be disjointed, leading to sub-optimal outcomes.

The key to someone owning the experience is also to have someone who can fix it. This specialized team is called a ‘growth team’, a term which I’ve borrowed from Morgan Brown. His work on growth teams and their application is worth studying! (It’s outlined here in his new book Hacking Growth)

5 Keys for Better Marketing Performance

These five key traits that high performing marketing organizations had in common are not easy to implement. They do require a massive organizational change, however, that is what it takes to be great. We must give up the idea that marketing is easy, cheap, or done by a single department. It is not, and the data proves this to be the case. The true test of whether you are a high performing marketing organization or not is not in how you execute, but it is in how you view the role and scope of marketing. High performing marketing organizations see marketing’s role as owners and creators of the experience. All great things flow from that origin, tactics don’t matter.

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This article is an overview of the 5 Key Traits to High Performing Marketing Organizations, a keynote presentation delivered to the Digital Marketing Conference in 2017 by Salesforce Thought Leader Mathew Sweezey. You can find the full presentation here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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