3 Crucial Questions to Answer Before Running Your Next Marketing Campaign

Editor’s note: A version of this post appeared on the Meta Venture Group blog.

When working with companies that want more from their marketing, the first thing I ask to see is the plan. Why? I want to see what they are trying to accomplish. It’s that simple. Regardless of the size of your organization, a simple fact holds true when it comes to marketing — you need to know why you are doing something before you do it.

The hardest part of formulating any marketing plan is truly quantifying that “why”. Being a process/metric/sales-driven marketer, I often find myself asking the question, “So what is all of this going to do for me?” only to get blank stares in return.

After working with companies of all sizes, I have found the companies consistently hitting sales goals in conjunction with their marketing programs all have one thing in common — a formalized demand generation plan. Simply having one in place likely means you’ve asked yourself three very important questions:

  1. What is the measurable goal of what we are trying to do?
  2. How does this drive sales?
  3. Do we have what we need in order to execute?

These questions serve as the backbone to understanding how your marketing programs actually impact the top line. If you can’t answer these questions then your marketing strategy is as worthless as blind hope wrapped in a pretty PowerPoint.

Here’s why it’s so critically important. By answering these three questions:

  1. You create accountability for a number — much like a sales rep. Whether or not you hit it is another story. Just having the accountability alone is a monumental behavior change for most marketing departments. When you have a number, “nice-to-haves” are moved aside for “must-haves,” and execution is a top priority.
  2. You get a fundamental understanding of the marketing and sales process. By knowing how leads come into the system, move to opportunities, and then are closed by sales reps, your mindset will change. I can almost guarantee it. I have seen this change the focus of entire quarterly plans from top-of-funnel initiatives to move-the-pipe strategies once the data was in front of the team.
  3. You clearly see the gaps BEFORE you start. Without fail, every single time I have run this process I find a gap in either the people, platforms, or program dollars needed to execute. This is a good thing. Now I can state before we start, “Here is what we are going to accomplish, but here is what I need in order to do so.”

4 Steps to Develop a Focused Demand Generation Plan

So where do you start?

1) Start from the sale and map out your process by working backwards

  • Sales —> Opportunities —> Lead / Target
  • Make sure you map out the different types of sales teams and potential marketing teams involved in handling the leads, opportunities, and sales. It does make a difference.

2) Put numbers to each step

  • I would advise you to just take a macro level snapshot for a quarter or two. You will get % conversions between each step (e.g. Lead / Target —> Opportunity).

3) Apply the numbers forward to your upcoming quarter

  • Put in the upcoming sales target, then work with the % from step 2 backward to get the leads/targets you will need.

4) Determine if your new programs are going to make the cut

  • Can you actually generate the number of leads/targets?
  • Should you work on improving conversion rates between the steps?
  • Should you work on getting bigger deals into the pipeline?

You can make this process as complicated as you want, but my recommendation is to start simple. It can easily be overwhelming if you try to get too deep too quickly. Remember, the goal of this part of the process is to see if your programs are actually going to drive sales. So keep it simple and be realistic. Determine if what you are going to do will make the right impact.

Free Download: Demand Generation Plan Templates

Here are three templates I have used over the years that should give you a good foundation to work with. They increase in complexity (Tier 1 —> Tier 3) based on the type of organization and the data available.


Photo by Jared Cherup

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Shawn Herring
Shawn Herring
Chief Marketing Officer / Co-Founder

Shawn Herring is a SaaS marketing executive, CMO advisor, and investor in software startups. He works hard to simplify complexity and specializes in growth by combining brand and demand strategies that scale. Currently, he is the Chief Marketing Officer/Co-Founder at Torchlite Marketing.
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