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Great CMOs Create Great Focus

October 01, 2013 | By Jay Gaines

A universal characteristic of high-performing b-to-b marketing organizations is focus. One thing a CMO can do is come to the annual strategic planning process prepared to create focus, through what is called a relative targeting exercise.

One of the best things about being an analyst at SiriusDecisions is the opportunity to work with so many b-to-b marketing organizations. The broad and deep view achieved through our day-to-day work with marketing leaders, our primary research and our benchmarking process reveal many important truths. Here’s one of them:

A universal characteristic of high-performing b-to-b marketing organizations is focus. Let’s face it, the scope of what marketing can do is endless, and some marketers seem to want to take it all on. To be fair, achieving focus can be a difficult task, because most b-to-b organizations have multiple business units, way too many offerings, and a veritable boatload of addressable market segments. Also, each business unit and most offerings typically have strong owners who passionately demand the same level of marketing support that all other business units and offerings receive.

What’s a CMO to do? One thing a CMO can do is come to the annual strategic planning process prepared to create focus. This can be done through what is called a relative targeting exercise – a process of passing all defined segments through a series of external and internal criteria to identify where marketing (and sales) effort will yield greatest results. External criteria include things that the business has no control over, such as industry trends, category spend and competitive presence. Internal criteria are those things the business can control, such as domain knowledge, sales readiness and database health. A well-executed, cross-functional relative targeting effort enables CMOs to create a credible, fact-based approach to providing a range of marketing support, from highly generalized to highly customized, to different parts of the business based on the expected yield of applied effort.

Think about that for a moment. What could your marketing organization do if it had the ability to focus effort where it would have greatest impact? Relative targeting allows marketing to move from a world of possibility to a world of probability as it goes to market – and the greatest probability is that marketing’s business contribution will increase.

Jay Gaines

Jay Gaines is Chief Marketing Officer and Research Fellow at SiriusDecisions. His experience includes team building and leadership, marketing strategy and planning, marketing budget and operations management, demand creation, sales and marketing alignment, business development, product development and management, interactive marketing/advertising, inbound marketing and social media. Follow Jay on Twitter @izjay.