One of the funny quirks about writing teachers – creative types that constantly preach to students the value of being original – is that they all use the same adages. Whether in a college setting or a screenwriting course in Hollywood, I’ve been in countless rooms where the lecturer in the front of the class preached to his or her adoring listeners lines like “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter so I wrote you a long one” and “I hate writing. I love having written.” But the winner of the “Most-Overused Writing Cliché by Any and All Professors” is the lovely William Faulkner line “in writing, you must kill your darlings.”
The humorous (at least by 19th century standards) metaphor is a nice way of saying “you have a million ideas, but you need to edit and integrate them into your work cohesively.” For creative people, staying focused is difficult. Creative people want to create…all of the time, sometimes to their detriment.
(Full disclosure: I’m one of these people! My long-lost book would be titled 975 Brilliant Ideas I Never Followed Through On.)
One of the biggest problems I see with business leaders is staying focused on a singular message or plan. In the book, Rocket Fuel, by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters, they tackle the relationship between two executive archetypes: the visionary and the integrator. The simplest way to describe the connection is visionaries are the big-picture thinkers consistently architecting where the company should go, and integrator is the dirt-on-the-hands builder of the plan who ensures the engine is running day in and day out.
For visionaries, their work revolves a lot around ideas. Wickman and Winters write:
The Idea Generator
As a Visionary, you have lots of ideas. You typically have 10 new ideas a week. Many of them may not be so good, or at least not a fit with the company’s primary focus. Some may even be dangerous. However, a few are absolutely brilliant. And those few great ideas keep the organization growing. Those great ideas can take companies to the moon. For this reason, you are invaluable.
The hard part with visionaries, however, is getting them to work within the right system. Visionaries can often feel trapped in systems. “System” is not a bad word, per se, but rather, something the rest of the company needs to build to scale. Visionaries understand the importance of systems but adapting to them is not easy.
That’s why the Purposeful Marketing Method is built to be flexible. It’s constructed to harness the brilliance of the visionary and implement it into a framework that can keep the visionary – and the company – on a singular track.
For visionaries, great ideas never end. And they shouldn’t! But you need to know where these ideas should live, when they can come to fruition, and how they fit into the overarching plan.
How the Purposeful Marketing Method Sets Companies Up to Focus
The first part of the Purposeful Marketing Method is about getting universal clarity for a company on its brand, audience, data, and marketing-to-sales operation. Some companies have elements in place – they track data granularly or perhaps have a tagline/message or style they’re committed to – but they need to bring everything into a single path that becomes “the way”.
This is why we have three PMM strategy days to help companies build this plan for themselves. Together, we sit with the 3-5 vision-builders on the client-side and facilitate clarity on those four elements: brand, audience, data, and marketing-to-sales operation.
The end result of the strategy days is to leave them knowing exactly how the company will:
- Persuasively communicate their brand through messaging and visuals
- Develop a marketing budget focused on what will provide a return
- Invest effectively in marketing efforts at each step of the customer lifecycle
- Eliminate the noise and focus on the things that really help you grow
- Organize, execute, and track your marketing system
Some companies charge millions of dollars to help businesses with just 2 of those 5. But the truth is that it’s not that hard to create a focus. Creating a focus is fun. Staying focused and committed to what we’ve built is difficult.
It’s important to keep this in mind when building out your vision. As you’ll see later on, our Marketing-to-Sales Maps force businesses to stick to a budget, assign responsibility, and build proper expectations for their plans.
How Focus Elements are Built
“First of all, you’ve got to have a vision of ‘What kind of program do I want to have?’ Then you’ve got to have a plan to implement it. Then you’ve got to set the example that you want, develop the principles and values that are important, and get people to buy into it.”
– Nick Saban, 6 Time National Championship College Football Head Coach
The Purposeful Marketing Method is taught to businesses by B2B Marketing guides.
The guides each are trained to use the toolbox of B2B marketing tools that are needed for business to obtain the alignment between brand, audience, data, and M2S operation.
Guides host full-day strategy sessions where they help businesses integrate these tools into their operation. The guides segment the work into three full-day sessions: Brand Day, Audience + Data Day, and Marketing-to-Sales Day. These workshops are generally spaced out one month apart.
Within each day are a series of decisions. Leading requires making the right decisions, even when it may be difficult. We challenge companies investing in Purposeful Marketing to make the following series of decisions to build the focus and vision of their growth efforts.
- The Why, How, and What of how we conduct business
- The paragraph that sells our business
- How we communicate our offering to our hero (the customer) in 7 words or less
- The most valuable aspects about us and how they bring value
- Our top collateral needs
- A cohesive style direction we can agree on
- How will we create a Leadership Messages to Attract new Customers?
- How do we develop + integrate our proven process into our sales cycle?
- How do we take this work and put it into our current collateral?
- What SMART Goals can we add to Obstacle List?
Audience + Data Day
- Identify our 3 Target Personas to market to and their:
The Customer Promise:
- Identify who we will do business with, the values we share with them, and the help we can give to them
- Identify the Great Customer who is not our customer
Most Important Metrics (MIM):
- The most important metrics that contribute to your growth.
- Identify the supporting metrics that feed into each MIM and the numbers you have to hit to get the desired end results.
- Audit the current marketing budget and resources. Determine what we think we need to spend to hit our goals.
- How do we begin simplifying and tracking our data each week?
- What SMART Goals can we add to Obstacle List?
- Determine the three sales funnels you will market to and how will you market at each step of the Customer Lifecycle.
The 90 Day Obstacle Sprint:
- Before we begin executing the M2S Maps, what needs to be developed beforehand and how much will it all cost?
- How will we track our Obstacle Sprint progress on a weekly basis to stay on track?
As you can see, the implementation is just as big of “focus” as the ideas. We can’t create a vision without tangible S.M.A.R.T. goals to get us moving down the road, one mile at a time.
Company Culture: The Secret Benefit of Having the Right Focus
The key to implanting your newfound focus is getting your leaders to buy-in first, and bring everyone along with them. One question I often ask companies is, “if I go out and ask every employee why [your company] does what it does, would they all give me the same answer?”
Spoiler alert: I rarely get a “yes.”
One of the hidden components to having a strong focus is its role in having a strong culture. When people think about great company culture, they see ping-pong tables, iced coffee on tap, and dogs roaming throughout the office. But culture is a lot more than toys and perks.
Companies get this wrong all the time. They believe stereotypes about millennials needing to be coddled to be happy and try to “buy” their way to employee joy.
But the truth is that a fun environment with happy hours and Kombucha Mondays can make employees happy, but not fulfilled. The best company cultures take it way beyond the fun and create meaning. They develop the central mission that tells their team “this is where we’re going and if you want to be a part of the ride, we need you to get here!”
When companies go through three strategy days of Purposeful Marketing, they create that path. Creating a focus for the company has to include both where the businesses are headed, but also, how the employees can be a part of that journey.
Let’s create the path together! In the next few chapters, we will outline the exercises we go through during Purposeful Marketing strategy days. We will identify how you can make the right decisions for your brand, audience, data, and sales operations to get aligned so you can start marketing with purpose.