In this episode, Plannuh CEO, Peter Mahoney, discusses the impact of ineffective marketing leadership execution. Peter is interviewed by Kelsey Krapf and Dan Faulkner, CTO of Plannuh.
We discuss the key areas of impact, including wasted budget, sub-optimal performance, and poor strategic execution.
You can read Peter's blog post about this topic here: https://blog.plannuh.com/blog/the-impact-of-the-ineffective-marketing-leadership-execution
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Kelsey Krapf 0:13
Welcome to the official podcast hosted by Plannuh. My name is Kelsey Krapf and I am the senior marketing manager.
Dan Faulkner 0:23
I'm Dan Faulkner the CTO.
Kelsey Krapf 0:25
For this week we have Peter Mahoney, our very own CEO and co founder of Plannuh as our guest. Peter just recently published an article on the impact of ineffective marketing execution. And we thought it was a great article. We wanted to bring them on board and discuss this in a little bit more detail. Thanks for coming on. Peter. How are you doing?
Peter Mahoney 0:44
I'm doing fine. But first of all, do you really believe it's a great article, or did you just feel like you had to say it was a great article because I'm your boss?
Kelsey Krapf 0:54
A little bit of both. No, I'm just kidding. I think it's a great article. I think it you know, talks about the impact of How ineffective marketing and in early you're gonna reach you know, really bad problems later on throughout throughout your journey.
Peter Mahoney 1:12
Well, this is true in and not to be all all holier than now I have lived every one of these problems. So, so yes, from firsthand experience I have, I have a deep understanding of bad marketing. Unfortunately.
Kelsey Krapf 1:31
You're pretty crazy to write this article though, considering you're, you know, in the leadership side of things. So what really made you write this article and what drove you to do it?
Peter Mahoney 1:41
Well, I tell you the biggest challenge, Kelsey, that I thought writing this down was that I'm trying to of course, sell software to marketing leadership in if they think that I'm making fun of them or alienating them. I think they'll not want to be nice to me and not want to buy my software but I think it just helps. To be done. The key point here is that there are some obvious problems that I think we all know about as marketing executives. And it's actually, as I highlight in the article that inspired the second one that we're going to talk about now, the problem in marketing leadership. The, the, the problem isn't about the people in most cases, it's really about the systems and the enablement that allows them to manage effectively, because marketing has gotten so complicated these days. So that's really the issue. I think we all know about it. These these are problems that won't be a surprise to most seasoned, or even slightly seasoned Marketing Leaders. So I'm just sort of calling out the obvious and trying to have a discussion about the problems that we all know about. Well,
Dan Faulkner 2:50
I think when you see them written down, they seem simple, but then they're not always obvious. So maybe just remind us about the key responsibilities of Marketing Leaders. And guess so to help us set the table for the rest of the discussion?
Peter Mahoney 3:06
Yeah. So I think about what a marketing leader should do in some fairly simplistic terms. At the super highest level, I think a marketing executives job is to is to deploy resources, both human and financial, toward achieving the objectives that the business has assigned to them. But you can kind of say that about any leader of anything, but in particular, a marketing leader has to do those things in a little bit more detail. They have to go through the following steps. First thing they should actually be the ones who are setting their business goals. Second thing they should be defining or refining their marketing strategy that's designed to help them efficiently prosecute those objectives in the context of the target market and customers they're dealing with. Third, they need to build a plan and build a team around That plan that's designed to actually be able to execute those things, then they actually need to do the work, they have to execute the plan, that's probably kind of important. They need to optimize that plan as they're moving along. And and when stuff happens, we're in the middle of a giant stuff happens right now, obviously. And then they need to communicate the results. So that stream of things is what I think of is sort of the, the the outline view of the role of a marketing executive. And there, they struggle with those things. They struggle for a whole bunch of reasons. And including the fact that it's really hard to get visibility, it's hard to communicate what objectives are. And as we've been exploring a lot, it's super difficult to, to manage the resources, especially the financial ones, and make sure that they're aligned with the campaign's and goals and objectives that people have. That that is a real huge gap when it comes to marketing leadership these days. They just sort of let the stuff happen and, and, and, and hope that the organization as it's organically spread out through the world in some cases is is following along in the way that they had planned them to.
Dan Faulkner 5:14
Yeah, there's that kind of both there's an analytical and and planning phase up front that really demands some care and attention. I think your highlights from the fact that maybe some some leaders are following the results come what may rather than setting the agenda and setting the organization up to actually have a bit more control over over like,
Peter Mahoney 5:41
yeah, that's exactly right, Dan. There's there there. People look at it from different perspectives. Sometimes a marketing exec is a great planner. We were just talking about someone who will remain unnamed A while ago who's a great thinker, amazing idea person, great planner but can't execute out of a paper bag. And that's one kind of leader. Some leaders are great at execution. They're great at managing a project to getting things done and on budget, but they're not good outside the box thinkers. And these days you need to be really a renaissance thinker, planner, marketer to be successful in the role you need to holistically look at the problem. And those people I think, are, I wouldn't say they're rare, but they're certainly notable. And you can you can tell because they often are the people who are in the most success successful marketing organizations because they've they've sort of got it all they've got the operational rigor, the planning rigor, and And ideally, even the creative thinking that makes up a great marketer.
Kelsey Krapf 6:54
I want to focus on impact. So you know, in this article, you broke it into three major categories waste suboptimal performance and poor strategic execution now, with how big impacting me How are you going about measuring?
Peter Mahoney 7:11
Well, the way I think about it, Kelsey, is it just thinking about the, the overall categories of impact in related to not executing as well as you can? So a lot of people think about, well, you know, waste is sort of an obvious one that people think about, but there's a lot inside waste as an example, there's waste may be spending on something dumb, but it also can be not using your budget completely. So that's an area where a lot of marketers struggle, because they don't have really good visibility. They can't forecast exactly what's being spent. So they tend to kind of hedge their bets. And what often happens is they'll say, well, I've got to spend 100,000 or a million dollars this quarter, whatever the number is, in, they'll say well I can't tell exactly what's going on, especially if I have multiple people managing the individual pieces. So I'm going to hold some aside to make sure I don't go over. And when they do that they're actually not putting all the money to work to achieve their objectives. So it's difficult for them to complain and make an excuse. If they say that, hey, I'm under my objectives. Sorry, some of the problem may be that they haven't actually deployed all their resources. So an unused budget is a key factor in in waste. And then there's some other things that happen in a poor planning environment. Like if you wait to the last minute, because you don't know exactly what's going on in your budget, then all of a sudden, you're struck with, hey, I've got to spend something in the last two weeks because I know I have some left. And because they haven't planned effectively, and they they end up dealing with rush fees, which is a big problem. And it reminds me Dan, you recently wrote about this country. concept of the BBR. So you should talk a little bit about what that means because it's really relevant to this part of the discussion.
Dan Faulkner 9:07
Yeah, see the budget burn rate, which is when you build a plan, you don't spend it a totally consistent rate through the year, but there will be a period of peaks and, and, and periods where you're spending less, but you need to know what you should be spending on average per day throughout the year, if you fall behind that too much. The one thing that's not changing is the end of the fiscal year. So what you'll find is you've got more and more money to spend and fewer and fewer days to spend it. And those issues of understand and then rush fees and spending on the wrong things. They feed each other. And so the end of the year, like a real messed up like I get away from
Peter Mahoney 9:47
Yeah, and we can see this playing out in, in, in real life in real time where customers go through and he can say there's sort of this acceleration and deceleration of spending over time and it often happens At the beginning of a fiscal period, whether it's a month or a quarter, depending on your planning, people sort of thinking and they sort of take a breath. And and then there's often this rush at the end in that rush in the end can be really problematic because you don't make all the best decisions in that case, which brings a couple other airs like non strategic spending, you may be spending stuff because you have budget and you need to use it. And you say, Well, I got to get some extra t shirts. But in reality, if if there are key objectives that you may be tracking behind, or could be doing better on and over performing more, buy appliances, some of the resources to to those particular campaigns, that would be a better use. But if you don't plan on that correctly, that's not going to happen. People also duplicate spend. That happens a lot in bigger organizations where you've got teams that are building something, whether it's content or a campaign or approach or a whole website. site that is completely duplicative to something else that's happening somewhere else in the organization. And then just general overpayments, all that stuff is related to just waste, which is probably this the simplest concept that that people think about when it comes to the when it comes to the impact. But the second area is about performance. Right? So the reality is, that's all wasting money, but sometimes you there's a bigger potential impact if you're not if you're not actually achieving the performance that you could be achieving. And, of course, just not hitting your targets is an issue. We talked about that earlier. If you're not hitting your targets, because you're not spending on the right things that that's obviously a problem. And that's also a recurring problem. And you've probably seen this where you you don't spend, you don't spend enough, you don't hit your targets. And then what happens next year, Dan, you get a big Exactly. So you're you're the growth doesn't justify doesn't grow, justify the increase. So you get into this sort of circular, circular problem that that just continues to grind down performance over time.
Dan Faulkner 12:16
Well, and and there is one other thing, which it's not just that you don't achieve your targets. There are some folks out there who aren't setting themselves targets. They're just spending the money.
Peter Mahoney 12:30
Yeah, that's surprised that it's surprising is we got into this after looking at thousands of budgets. There are a lot of people who don't have either well articulated targets or some in some cases, any targets, right. It's just we're spending money because in we're doing things because we've always been doing things we do. Yeah, exactly. We call that random acts of marketing. Yeah, right. They got a list of stuff that they're going on, going on, too. So that's obviously an issue. The other thing, and we see this a lot, too, is is just not a good discipline of ongoing tuning and balancing. And I think it's a really important ethic for people to get into, to, to constantly be in in a measurement mode, but measurement at the right level, because the challenges and we've written a lot about the the idea of measurement in marketing, and people can get really hyper focused on the minutiae and the minutiae is important in certain areas. Because if you're a digital marketing manager and you're optimizing one specific tactic within Facebook and you're doing a B testing, you know, what you should be in the minutiae, but sometimes you need to pop back up in look at overall, what are the contributions across all my channels? How are things flowing together? Am I doing enough awareness to support the demand innovation that's going on, etc. So those kinds of things are, I think, really important for for people to think about. And when you get caught in this day to day craziness, I think people don't engineer enough time in their schedule to make a plan like that.
Dan Faulkner 14:18
I completely agree. We've been discussing recently this notion of the risk of measuring things because you can rather than spending some time to identify the things you should make sure. And then, you know, making sure you can measure those. I can take you down.
Peter Mahoney 14:41
Yeah, so it turns out, absolutely. So people focus, they measure what they can measure. So there's, and so you see a lot of people I used to see these business reviews all the time where a marketing leader would come in and they'd have reams and reams of measurement about all of the digital programs. But then you go and dig on The coverage and realize that their digital was about 15% of the overall spend. And you said, Well, what about the other 85%? And there's a lot of flustered or you know, not really sure. So it's, it's, it's a, it's an interesting dynamic that happens where you can get these beautiful charts for your, for a small percentage, I'll be at an important one in a growing part of your strategy, but you have to look at the whole thing holistically because it's a, it's a, it's a bigger problem. And it kind of brings us to the third area right the first area talked about was waste, the second was suboptimal performance. And then the third is just poor strategic execution. And, and what I mean by that when we look at the impact of, of, of leadership challenges, poor strategic execution can mean a few different things. You know, one is just you're not realizing the potential of your company which which has Massive, massive impact, obviously. I mean, think about if you're in a public company, like the one that Dan and I worked on, that's got a multi billion dollar market capitalization, you could have a billions of dollar impact if you're not, if you're not, if your growth is, is in single digits versus double digits, you know, going from nine to 10. Right? So that that kind of thing can have a massive, massive impact. Obviously, if you're, if you're also not executing as effectively, you're going to lose competitively and you lose competitive ground and, and obviously, the ultimate accountability is your is is your job. And in it's one of the reasons you see senior Marketing Leaders turnover a lot is that they haven't been able to articulate clearly the value that the marketing team has delivered, and without being able to prove that if there's any challenge They're, of course at risk of, of finding something else that they're going to have to do with the next part of their career. So that's, that's definitely a challenge.
Dan Faulkner 17:10
So, so that's a great kind of diagnosis of the, I'm kind of covered, what causes some of these, on the performances and marketing leadership talks about the categories of impact. So how do we, how do we help people lead themselves out of this? What's the answer?
Peter Mahoney 17:31
Well, that's a leading question, Dan, because I asked you to ask it. So a little inside baseball here. And, and you might expect here that I do my fantastic product pitch in tell people that they should use planner. And of course they should. But besides that, there's if we take it up to a different level, we've been thinking a lot among our leadership team about this concept of operations. Marketing leadership and what that really means. And in there are a few key things that I think we all need to think about when it comes to being operationally excellent in the area of marketing. And in, they fall into, they fall into I'm going to use my Spanish Inquisition joke all the time they fall into two categories. No, no, the third one, a number of categories. And I say that because Dan and I were literally talking about this last night over slack. And I added a fourth one, so I apologize it retrospectively. So the first one is, is having a goal driven planning approach. You just need to build your plan on based on your business goals, the metrics and targets related to those goals and the milestones for those targets. And then you need to build campaigns that are aligned thematically to do that. That's a big thing in there, but it's a really important thing to have a goal driven planning approach and we've written a lot about this, and I think it is a important set of table stakes that are required for for marketing operation excellence. The second is you need a system view of your marketing, you need to look at this not as a single point not as your demand funnel, not as as one particular thing, but you need to look at the entire end to end interactive system that is the marketing system for your company. And that can be a hard thing to do. We actually developed a diagnostic back, I put something together many years ago, and I've been refining it. We call it our steampunk chart, but it's the end to end marketing machine. And the idea is to have a system that really looks at all of the different all of the different attributes and functions that that provides some kind of input into overall marketing performance. So that's the second thing gold Have an approach systems driven driven approach. The third thing is, is a process for ongoing measurement refinement and optimization. And we talked about we actually have a regular part of our customer success process with our customers, we have a regular sort of budget wrangling meeting, as that's one little element of an operational process. We used to do things in my last role at weed, we'd have a, we call it a pipeline party, where we'd go through in meet regularly and do a deep deep dive on assessing the pipeline, cleaning that in in making sure we had a real deep understanding, but there needs not only to be a system, but there needs to be a human process to make sure that people are actually looking at these things, and adjusting and looking at the data with some frequency. And a key part of that is that they need to look at data and and throw away their marketing brain for a minute and look at it like they were look doing a scientific experiment. And they need to focus on truth seeking versus spinning, which is an important thing. And then the last thing is something that Dan has written about a lot recently is this idea of connecting, you should be able to connect all of your marketing activities to some kind of financial outcome. And maybe you can say a little bit more about that, Dan, because I know it's something that's near and dear to your heart.
Dan Faulkner 21:35
Yeah, I'm just making a note here to ask what the party element was at the pipeline party.
Unknown Speaker 21:45
The it is
Dan Faulkner 21:50
something that has struck me a lot because of course, what people really care about tremendously is ROI. And it's very difficult to have a real ROI. If you can't connect what you're doing to a financial outcome, and you can't even define what that financial outcome is, that might require you to zoom out your perspective, a bit, and say, I'm not just going to look at the digital element of this campaign, I'm going to look where the digital element of this campaign fit into my overall Mark funnel and how it's contributing to some ultimate financial outcome that we agreed as a team that we're going to achieve. So it's that that notion of of connecting things together towards an end, rather than looking at an individual marketing activity is the end onto itself.
Peter Mahoney 22:40
I think that's right, Dan, in and we talked a lot about the idea of just continuing to ask the question to what end. So I want to run a branding campaign to what end so I can get better visibility and recall of my customers to what end so when they see my stuff, they have a higher potential of actually converting to what end so they can become pipeline to what end so they can become a customer to what end so they can become a repeat customer, you know, so you can keep on going. And and and ultimately you should understand that there there is a reason that can be tied to your p&l or your balance sheet for everything that you're doing in marketing, and if it isn't, then maybe you shouldn't be doing it. And so that's, that's, I think, the last piece of the four legged stool that we defined, you know, goal driven approach, build a system, a process for measurement, and tie things to a financial outcome. I think it's a it's a really good way to think about it. It's the ethic that we use, obviously to build our our platform and plan out but but independent of it, if you're so silly as to not want to use ours. You can you should use those those basic principles as you're building out your marketing, operational capability. To be operationally excellent when it comes to marketing. So how we do, Dan? I think we covered my article.
Dan Faulkner 24:08
I think we did. And I think that was kind of four headlines that you you've outlined are really important. And when you do that, I think a lot of other things fall into place. Other aspects of decision making and prioritization become a lot easier if you've if you've covered off those four things. So it's not just going to give you better visibility and better outcomes. But it will actually simplify the job if you if you put in an effort upfront to put in the system to lead the team and lead plan as you described it.
Peter Mahoney 24:43
Yep, absolutely agree. So as usual, Dan, when you and I get on this thing together, we we never leave any airspace for Kelsey. So, so thank you for helping facilitate and asking some of the real good questions at the beginning, Kelsey, and I think it's probably time to Check us out here.
Kelsey Krapf 25:01
Yeah, you got it. Thanks so much, Peter for coming on board and talking about the article. If you haven't checked it out, you can visit it on our blog. Make sure to follow TheNextCMO and Plannuh on Twitter and LinkedIn and if you have any ideas for topics or guests, you email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Mahoney 25:21
Thanks, Kelsey. Thanks, Dan.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai