Over the coming weeks I’m going to explore Marketing Fitness. As I’ve been doing over the past few years, I’ll be going deep around the topic to probe this space from a range of angles, but before we go too deep let’s set up some boundaries and establish the goal posts around this marketing fitness journey.
Defining a Marketing Fitness Program
Let’s keep this short. The purpose of a marketing fitness program should be tailored to ensure that as you get into a marketing execution mode (demand generation) your marketing team is in the best shape possible.
Key Factors and Considerations
When putting programs like this in place there should be a mix of discovery as well as structured learning. I’d like to think that best in class programs delivers a learning and discovery framework that empowers the participants to customize based on true business needs (bottom up) as well as providing a firm foundation with a clear path to where the marketing organization needs to head (top down what does “good” look like.)
In addition factors such as marketing IQ (this is a thing now), endurance, sprints, pacing and ongoing development all need to be considered. We’ll be going deep on these topics in upcoming blog posts.
Why You Need a Marketing Fitness Program?
Let’ be clear on one thing and it does not matter if you are a solopreneur or part of a Fortune 500 marketing organization – if you don’t make time for marketing fitness it simply won’t happen. There are too many competing forces at play, including some that are directly tied to revenue so the pressure to invest in a program of this sort needs to come from within.
In terms of the why, simply put, when you focus on best in class delivery you are more likely to see best in class results, so the long term payoff is there.
Conversely if you continue to rely on the skill sets of today over time as those skills become less relevant you’ll see a diminishing return on your marketing organization investment. (And don’t give this nonsense about continually trading out the players on your team if you are truly aspiring for high performance over time the continual tribal loss of knowledge will become debilitating.)
When to Launch A Marketing Fitness Program
Any time of the year is a great time to focus and bring new energy to developing and executing a marketing fitness program, but generally most businesses have peak cycles that might coincide with things like fiscal year, availability of budget or even seasonality.
With that in mind I’d strongly argue that as a marketing team you need to find a balance that comfortably addresses execution, innovation and development. Generally you’ll want to plan at least 6 months in advance and you’ll need to balance the need for execution (peak go-to-market needs) against ongoing organizational optimizations. So with that in mind, summer is typically going to be your best time of year to really focus on a true marketing fitness program but of course every company will have unique constraints. What is important is that you carve out some legitimate time to develop and run your program.
A final note of consideration… as you begin to put your program in place I’d strongly recommend a group of expected as well as stretch expectations. If you are not sure where you live in this regard I might suggest you put in place a digital roadmap in advance leveraging both near and long term aspirations. From here you’ll be much better placed to understand exactly where you are, what you’d like to achieve around marketing outcomes and of course where the gaps are, with the gaps being the part that you align your marketing fitness program against.