Three Guiding Principles for Marketing

Every Evil Empire needs some sort of manifesto to guide its rule. The Sith Lords had their Rule of Two. The Hutts had their own ruthless philosophy. Why not Marketing?

I’ve been involved in a lot of different marketing Empires in my career. And they’ve all believed in something, even if that wasn’t explicitly called out to its members. Some believed in “schedule chicken” with customers, promising products on the theory that we could build them faster than the customer could agree to buy and implement them. Some believed in doing whatever sales told them to do; some believed the opposite. Some were survivalists who simply believed in every man for himself, or its corollaries: build your connections and scratch the right people’s backs, and always grab as much budget as you can.

The Bullhorn marketing team has a three-pronged approach, and it has held up quite well over the last couple years that I’ve been part of the group:

Revenue-focused. Spend effort on activities that earn the company money. In effect, this makes us very driven to help the sales team sell, via lead generation campaigns, sales enablement and training, and content to drive prospects’ movement through the sales funnel. It also discourages us from building products because we think they’d be cool, instead of because we think our customers and potential customers will pay us money for the value we’re creating. Too often marketing departments worry about things like “branding” or generating lots of one-off content instead of focusing on what will grow the business.

Outside-in. Spend time understanding what our customers think and need, rather than inventing it ourselves. Don’t make decisions from an ivory tower. By remembering NIHITO – Nothing Important Happens Inside The Office – we stand a chance of understanding our customers’ wants and adjusting our messages, product investment, and strategies appropriately instead of blindly guessing based on our instincts and past experiences. Which, I’ve found, is all too easy a trap to fall into.

Metrics-driven. Whenever possible, use data to assist in making decisions. As the Pragmatic Marketing saying goes, our opinion, though interesting, is irrelevant. What do the numbers say? Data tells us which programs are more successful, which parts of the selling process need help, which email subject lines are better, which segments to focus on, and whether we’ve reached the goals we set out to achieve. SMART goals let us know when we can declare victory, and rapid iteration lets us keep refining and measuring until we get to the level we are looking for.

No, these three principles won’t let us rule the galaxy with an iron fist. But they do make our role in the larger scheme of an organization much clearer. They provide guidance for prioritizing activities. And they avoid the usual criticisms of a marketing department of being squishy and hard to measure – the traits that turn an important functional group into a company’s parasitic weasels.


About Jeff Foley

Jeff Foley is the Director of Product Marketing for Customer Service Applications at Pegasystems. Jeff started his career as an engineer at Dragon Systems, before moving over to “the Dark Side” of marketing as the product manager for Dragon NaturallySpeaking v5. Throughout product launches at enterprise and consumer companies like Dragon, edocs, Atari, Nuance, Bullhorn, and now Pega, Jeff has aligned sales, marketing, and product organizations around new technologies to deliver software his customers love to use. Jeff holds BS and MEng degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.
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