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Translating (and Operationalizing) your Marketing Strategy (with Monish Munshi!)

Join us (Praveen Das, Co-Founder Factors.ai and Monish Munshi, Sr. Director of GMS, Freshworks) as we discuss business objectives, marketing strategies, campaigns, offers, tactics, and more! A real gold-mine of content for up and coming start-ups looking to up their marketing game.

Q. There are so many terms thrown around within the marketing community, particularly within the operational aspects like channels, offers, tactics, campaigns, etc. Is there a hierarchy to this? What do you think about this and what is your perspective on this entire space?

A. To start off with the operational aspects when creating marketing campaigns within an organisation: it is easiest to manage the operations when your marketing team is small. As your organisation grows and as your marketing team grows, new verticals get created (eg. field marketing, product marketing, growth marketing, etc) which themselves will continue to grow over time. At this point, it is important to ensure that all the activities across these various verticals are aligned. 

As you grow, it is very easy to have misalignment which can lead to disjoined execution. This in turn will greatly diminish the impact of the department on the business. 

So first, one must define what marketing is going to do for the organisation and tie the marketing objectives with your business objectives (gaining market share, growth in a particular region, etc). This has also become evident in the growth in the importance of revenue and pipeline as two of the most important metrics that are ascribed to marketing now. Marketing teams now have to ask and answer how much of the revenue, growth and pipeline they want to deliver to the business. 

So for any team, the two most important steps are:

Step 1: Have a clear understanding of your organisation’s business objectives

Step 2: Align your marketing strategies with these objectives. 

This helps you understand how your specific marketing activities tie into the various business objectives.

Q. Could you give us an example to illustrate this?

A. Sure! Say, your business objective is to launch a new product in the market or to come up with a new version or offering of an existing product.

Your first aim would be to create awareness of the product or version. This is what the brand marketing team will do. The product marketing team, meanwhile, will define sales’ place in the operations. They help decide how sales and marketing will go to the market and with what kind of messaging for that product portfolio. Next, growth marketing and demand generation will kick into action. They take the positioning of the product and the messaging and create a narrative around it and work on the content that surrounds the product across multiple channels. 

This is where you’re coming up with the campaign. Your campaign is what essentially determines how you’re going to broadcast your product or offering from a demand generation standpoint. In the hierarchy, the brand campaign is at the top. The brand campaign is more about awareness and thought leadership. Sales will play along with this brand campaign that has been created. A demand generation campaign will also be launched right then. This is where you start with the overarching theme which is going to be the campaign that will run for the next 3-quarters.

Below all this will be your channels and content. This is also where Tactics and Offers come into play. Succinctly put, a Tactic is a delivery mechanism of an Offer. Offer is something that people will consume. It can be a white paper or a brochure or a video, even webinars and in-person events are all Offers since people consume them. In other words, the content is the offering and the distribution and dissemination method is the tactic. So these are the next level in the hierarchy of the campaign. 

The next thing to understand is that the same campaign can be split into various programs. Here, the assets will be the same but the channels will be different. The global campaigns team will be focusing on acquisition through paid, owned and earned media. The field marketing team on one-on-one campaigns based on the acquisitions and focuses more on nurture activities. Eventually customer marketing will be focusing on upsell and cross sell. But regardless it is all the same campaign because the objective is the same. Even if it has different programs based on whether it is low touch or very high touch.

Q. One thing to note iis that the word ‘campaign’ is used for a bunch of things. Facebook campaigns and email campaigns are also called campaigns but by the standards of the hierarchy that we’ve just discussed, these come way down the order. 

A. So, email campaigns or social media campaigns are not campaigns in the strictest sense of the word. They are essentially distribution channels. A campaign will  always have two components: content and distribution channels. It cannot be one or the other, it has to be both. Apart from that, a campaign is an overarching theme which is linked to your business objectives. Whatever you do below that, you have to define in terms of what you’re giving people for consumption and how you’re distributing it.

Q. At various stages of a company’s growth, what do you think are some of the missteps that people could make if they don’t think of campaigns in a holistic way which comprises various programs and tactics and offers. What are some of the common mistakes that you’ve seen and what are the downsides of not modelling a campaign according to this hierarchy?

A. To begin with, understanding where the customer is in his journey is very important to be able to give the right content to the right person at the right time AND through the right channel. You can do this only if you have a joint understanding of your tactics and offerings, that is, how your content is disseminated — which will come from having the right hierarchical understanding of your campaign.

The second reason why thinking of campaigns in a holistic way is important is for the optimisation of your ROI. If you spend in a disjointed way, with the various verticals of your team running their own campaigns without a common alignment, you won’t be able to optimize your budget. In that case, it becomes hard to know where a certain person is in the buying cycle and how much to spend on them.

Finally, if you have a disjointed strategy, it will be hard for you to come up with a good nurture flow for your prospects during their life cycle or during their time in the buying journey which leads to conversions. What we see happens here is that marketing ends up doing more lead generation over demand generation and their conversions fall. So having a proper flow to your campaign and understanding where the activities fall in the hierarchy impacts your pipeline.

Q. How do you measure ROI between offers and tactics? Especially in cases where the offer is working but the tactic is not working or when the tactic is working but the offer isn’t. How do you make such distinctions?

A. First, there will be cases where you cannot isolate the two. For leads acquired, both tactics and offers are equally responsible. This is because everyone who fills up a form will consume some content or they have come from a channel after consuming some content. Similarly with an opportunity if there are seven touches before a person becomes an opportunity, you look at both tactics and offer at each touch. So there will never truly be a case where only a tactic or only an opportunity makes an impact in isolation. They will always be in a pair that has worked together.

But, apart from these there will be times when you want to know this distinction, not just to understand how the tactic and offer are working in isolation, but also because there is always a central content team creating the content and a distribution team which distributes the content, both of which are incurring costs on the offers and tactics. So you need to see how the teams are performing and what changes, if any are required. 

The first thing here is that it is usually difficult to measure offers, unless it is an external content piece. So the majority of the conversation around the ROI will rest on the costs of the tactics. However, you realise that content is disseminated through multiple channels. For a unique content piece, you will be able to see which channel is able to generate the maximum number of interactions. The cost per lead and cost per opportunity can be different for different combinations of offer-tactics. 

So looking at such data helps you figure out which tactic-offer combination works at the top of the funnel, which one works on the bottom of the funnel, etc.

Q. Do you have any observations or learnings from over the years related to offer-tactic combinations for our listeners? 

A. I have a few general observations. The first of which being that when you put out educational pieces for your customers, ensure that they are not hounded by calls from SDRs soon after signing up or downloading your content. They are mostly in the learning stage and in most cases do not want to be contacted. 

The second observation is that we usually target people who we think are going to be part of the decision making like the heads, CEOs, CIOs, etc of the organisations that we want to target. Most of the time, these people are not going to be consuming your content. There are people on their teams who are going to influence these decision makers and should be the targets of your content. So firstly, your content should always be for education purposes and ensure that it is democratised. The consumption of your content indirectly impacts your organic traffic. And organic drives the best conversions. Organic usually has double the conversions of paid. So a good strategy is to use paid channels to drive more content consumption because eventually it reflects in your organic channels.