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For the Win: Valuable Marketing Strategies the Super Bowl Can Teach You

By Justin Piehowski January 30, 2017


Watching the Super Bowl this Sunday? Yeah, me too. Do you feel a special connection to the coach as he paces the sideline during games? Yeah, me too. We, the people in charge of marketing automation (MA) teams, are a lot like NFL coaches. Don’t see the connection? Let me explain.

Just as a football coach spends months evaluating talent to ensure his players have the right skills, mindset, and ambition to play their key roles on the field, MA leaders must not overlook the importance of the people and roles that lead to success.

What if a football coach used a 300 pound player who played defensive tackle in college as his starting kicker? What if he had his star quarterback also play defensive end, punter, and be responsible for filling the Gatorade buckets on the sidelines? This might work for a high school team, but these decisions would be ridiculous in serious competition.

Sadly, however, I frequently see marketing leaders at large companies doing the same thing with their marketing talent. MA leaders will put people in the wrong roles or—even worse—stretch one person across five different roles and hope that the abridged mix will somehow lead them to the marketing automation playoffs. However, that strategy rarely, if ever, works in their favor. With such a strategy, they can expect to fumble early and often.

At Magnet 360, we have helped build comprehensive marketing automation programs at many organizations ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies. We have run thousands of email campaigns, and have been responsible for hitting the send button on campaigns that are seen by tens of millions of people. When we initially evaluate companies and their ability to execute marketing automation successfully, we look at five different areas: strategy, technology, people, process, and content.

For this post, let’s focus on the “people” part of a Super Bowl-bound marketing automation program. Because much like a Super Bowl-winning football team, the players in each individual role of your marketing automation program need the right skills and natural drive to be successful in that role. Here is a breakdown of a winning team:

Campaign manager:
The campaign manager is without a doubt the quarterback of your marketing automation team. They have a clear understanding of each step in the process and stay laser-focused on their deadline. They communicate well with the other roles and stakeholders, and have no problem making decisions on the fly.

Data analyst/scientist:
Your data analyst is the key to making your marketing timely and relevant. They understand your databases, your data model, and know how your marketing tools turn your data into measurable results. The first step to a successful marketing automation platform is good data—the second step is having someone who can manage it.

Creative director: 
Is your marketing visually compelling and inspiring? Does your copy leap off the screen and drive your consumers to spend, spend, spend their hard-earned dollars with you? If not, then you clearly need a creative director. In addition to being creatively gifted, they understand the business and are clever about using the content of your marketing to drive the consumer to action.

You’ve got solid data and creative, now you need someone to pull it all together in your marketing automation tool and bring the campaign to life. Your producer is technically talented, they are fluent in HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and complex technical configurations. They enjoy turning data, ideas, and creative into something tangible.

Quality assurance and deployment:
Your quality assurance and deployment consultant should be the most feared person on your campaign team. They do not let one detail go unnoticed. They derive significant joy from reading every word of technical requirements and picking nits until the final product is impenetrable to skeptics. Given this high attention to detail, they also are the one who hits the send button on emails, so you’ll have to be able to trust that they won’t press it until everything is in its exact right place.

So you’ve combined data, creative, and production and executed the campaign. But, now what? How did it perform? How are you going to make it even more impactful for the business next time? Your strategist dives into the campaign data, examining every click and piece of content to ensure they reflect business needs. They are constantly using data-driven analysis to push the campaign team and stakeholders to aspire to better performance and outcomes.

A final note about the strategist—often, business leaders overlook this role or downplay its importance. Without a strategist pushing for constant evolution of your program, you will never move the ball down field. You’ll be running the same plays, the same way and won’t score more than a few occasional field goals.

Clients often ask me if the same people can play the same roles and my answer is almost exclusively no. Remember how silly it would be to put your quarterback on your defensive line? Additionally, you should be setting your MA team up for growth, and that means complexity and volume. As you grow, one person in multiple roles will soon become overwhelmed, and your growth plan will turn into a punt.

With that in mind, go get ‘em coach.

If you’d like help organizing the people on your marketing automation team for success, please fill out the form below. 

Posted in on January 30, 2017