10 Questions Every New VP of Marketing Should Ask
So you’re starting a new job. You’re going to be the VP of Marketing at a mid-sized B2B company and you need to figure out how to succeed. There are a million paths to barrel down – you could dive into social media, you could invest in marketing automation, you could focus on SEO. The list is endless, so how do you know where to begin?
Here’s a series of 10 critical questions you need to ask – a basic inbound marketing framework – to get you started on the right foot.
(1) What are your business goals for the next year? If the business you’re joining doesn’t have a good answer to this question, run away as fast as you can. Your company should be focused on hitting specific milestones, including sales and revenue milestones. As the VP of Marketing, you need to be clear on these company-wide goals so that you can set your team’s goals appropriately.
(2) What are your marketing goals for the next year? Answering this question should be your first priority. How should you define your goals? Simple. Look at your company’s goals, figure out what your marketing team needs to do to enable the company to hit its goal, then make that your goal. In many cases, leads, or Marketing Qualified Leads, will be a central part of the goal. In other cases it will be a mix of things. Before you set your goals in stone, make sure that your CEO and fellow managers, particularly your VP of Sales, agree on them.
(3) What was your lead-to-customer conversion rate over the last year? Your lead-to-customer conversion rate is the percent of your leads that turned into customers. Once you’ve identified your marketing goal (assuming it focuses on some sort of sales goal), you can use the lead-to-customer conversion rate to figure out how many leads you need to generate in order to meet your goal.
(4) What is your leads goal for the next year? The leads goal – or some variant of it like the Marketing Qualified Leads goal that we use at HubSpot – is the focus for most marketing teams. So how do you figure out what your goal should be? It’s actually simple. Just divide your customer goal by your lead-to-customer conversion rate. For example, if your goal is 1,000 customers and you’re getting 5% lead-to-customer conversion rates, your leads goal needs to be 20,000. Whatever you do with your leads goal, make sure you have one, and that your sales team supports it.
(5) What was your visitor-to-lead conversion rate over the last year? This is the percent of your website visitors that became leads. Once you identify your leads goal, you can use this visitor-to-lead conversion rate to figure out how much traffic you need to generate in order to hit your leads goal.
(6) What is your traffic goal for the next year? This is the very top of your funnel – it’s the number of people visiting your website. Most marketers don’t define this number clearly. They say they want to increase traffic, but fail to provide a specific goal tied to sales or business impact. Of course, if you start by answering questions 1-5, it’s simple to figure out what your traffic goal should be. Just divide you leads goal by your visitor-to-lead conversion rate. So if the conversion rate is 1%, and you need 20,000 leads, you need 2,000,000 visitors to achieve your goals.
(7) Where in your funnel do you have the most leverage to make an impact? Suppose you just answered questions 1-6, came up with a traffic goal of 2,000,000 visits and realized there’s no way you can achieve that much traffic. No problemo! Just look back at the funnel and figure out where you have the most leverage to make changes. For example, maybe you think you can improve that leads-to-customer conversion rate with an improved free trial. Great! If you’re wildly successful and move it from 5% to 10%, you’d be able to cut the number of visits you need to 1,000,000. Make sure you look at each stage of your funnel and find all the opportunities to have a big impact.
(8) What is your plan to achieve your goals? Once you’ve identified the places in your sales and marketing funnel where you have leverage, you should put together a plan – a set of tactics that will help you achieve you goal. Suppose you decide you’re going to improve that lead-to-customer conversion rate. How are you going to do it? Are you going to create a trial? Or are you going to focus on sales enablement? Or are you going to do more to nurturing of the leads you’re sending to sales? You need to decide.
(9) What is your budget to achieve the goals? Once you’ve spelled out your plan, you need to make sure you have the budget for it. Maybe you decided you need to do more sales enablement to improve the lead-to-customer conversion rate. Will that require additional headcount? Do you have the budget for it? Make sure you know.
(10) What are you doing to build marketing assets for the long term? By this point, you’re doing well. You have a concrete plan that will allow you to achieve your goals, and you’re ready to go. There’s just one more question: Does your plan simply get you to your goal, or does it get you to your goal while building a set of marketing assets with long-term value? If your plan includes publishing content like blog posts and whitepapers, and building reach via social channels like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, you’re in great shape. Content and reach are investments that pay off over time. If your plan is focused only on advertising and buying leads, you should head back to the drawing board. Advertising and buying leads is like burning money. It’s fun in the short term and okay in moderation, but it does nothing for you in the long run and can’t be your only activity.
What happens if you can’t get some of this information? Maybe you don’t know what your lead-to-customer conversion rate is? Or maybe you’re not tracking visitors or leads? In that case, you need to make collection of the data your priority. (HubSpot’s all-in-one marketing software can help you here!) Until you’re able to answer the questions above, you won’t be on track to achieve your marketing goals.
This is a guest post by Rick Burnes, Director of Product Marketing at HubSpot. HubSpot is a marketing software company in Cambridge, MA that makes inbound marketing and lead management software.