A big hello from Portland, Oregon.
How can I think strategically? How to cultivate strategic thinking?
Strategic is such a big word. Whenever I think of the term “Strategic Thinking,” I picture a politician or policymaker in a Think Tank trying to craft big initiatives to tackle issues like climate change, unemployment, boosting the economy, etc.
For the sake of today’s podcast, I want to narrow the definition of strategic thinking a little bit in the context of B2B marketing. Let’s keep it concrete: how can you carry productive and interactive conversations with your CEO, VP of marketing, and other senior staff?
I want to discuss the ability to think strategically in 3 very concrete ways that you can implement right away.
Think from the perspective of “why and what”, not “how”
This is derived from my personal experience. My background was finance, accounting, and operations. When I was told to do certain things, my first intuition has always been to think about implementation. How can I make it happen for my management, customers and internal stakeholders? When you try to carry conversations with senior managers, most of the time, they are more interested in knowing why you go with a specific recommendation? What analysis and factors did you use to reach that conclusion? What are some of the pros and cons? Most importantly, what are the benefits to the company and customers? Once they understand why and what, then explain how. Sometimes, some senior staff will start asking how questions, but it’s important to help them understand why and what first, before you answer ‘how’ questions.
Communicate in a way that senior managers can understand
I’ve seen many marketers sharing social media metrics with senior managers. Frankly, senior managers really don’t care about likes or views or shares. What they really care about is how social media helps the company increase revenue, reduce cost, or improve customer service. So, can you tie your social media conversations with them to the context of improving customer service? You need to understand how senior managers measure themselves and share the information in a way they understand or care about.
Frankly, this is the challenge of many marketers. I understand. I encountered a similar issue when I was in the corporate world. One thing I did was to align our marketing strategy with that of sales and customer service. Much of the content I created was used by sales. I made sure that they know what content I created and how they could use it. I also suggested some content to our customer service team as part of their training. Rather than just reporting out the viewership of content on the website, I also called out how content was used for sales and customer service. When I showed the management content used by sales and customer services, they showed a little excitement and wanted to know more about it.
Help senior managers connect the dots
Most senior managers are in their 40’s, 50’s and in some cases, in their early 60’s. They didn’t grow up with digital. Many use mobile phones and tablets like a novice consumer. They don’t know the ins and outs of digital marketing or the amount of digital integration and the usage of various marketing technologies and tools you need to use to tie everything together.
Most senior managers don’t know how much back-end work it takes to make sure a website scales dynamically or that photos show up properly on different devices. They don’t know how much work you need to use to create a seamless nurturing campaign to increase conversion rates. They don’t know what they don’t know.
You need to use an analogy that they understand. The typical example I use with senior staff is to relate digital to how long does it take sales to close a deal? Well, 12-18 months. How many touchpoints do sales need to engage with prospects during that time? Over 30 touchpoints. Did sales need to strategize and prepare for each touchpoint? Yes. Was it a lot of work to do that? Yes. Imagine doing exactly the same thing digitally in a scalable and semi-automatic way. Once I said that they get it. Use an analogy they understand and help them connect the dots.
I hope that this helps, It gives you some ideas to learn how to thinking strategically and provides concrete examples and suggestions that you can use after this episode.
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For the next episode, I want to share with you some ideas that you can cultivate strategic thinking, OK?
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