Keep New Marketing Initiatives From Backsliding to the Old Ways


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I recently attended a faculty meeting to kick-off the new academic year. One of the presentations highlighted enrollment trends that did not surprise – but none the less disappointed some of my peers. An increasing number of students are enrolling in online as opposed to campus courses. In short, the online modality more closely aligns with many returning students method of consuming education. Most of the faculty can teach both online and on campus; however, a traditional teaching background creates a natural bias to class room instruction. The shift from a face-to-face environment to online just doesn’t feel right to some, and that can make it difficult to embrace new teaching modalities even when the trend is obvious.

Shifting market trends make change necessary, but not easy. In my role as CMO there are also occasional struggles to keep new marketing initiatives on track even when the incoming data validates that the new initiatives are working. Strong feelings to revert back to the old status quo are often lurking just below the surface. For example, the shift away from traditional mass media print and into more focused and integrated programs still at times creates fear, uncertainty and doubt within our company. You can imagine the swirling questions:

• What will our customers think if they don’t see our ads in every issue?
• What will our competition think?
• What message are we sending the analysts / markets if we decrease our print coverage?
• How do you expect to sell our products if you are not “getting the word out?”

The bottom line is that marketers can never stop the internal communication and education process as it relates to the strategic marketing plan. Measure and communicate the results of new initiatives with every opportunity. You may even need to ask your internal audience for a “suspension of disbelief” as you present the data showcasing the new strategy and improved results.

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Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


  1. Alan, Marketing, in my estimation is limited to “identifying to whom(s), how(s), and how often to reach one’s different market niches or segments. That is different from advertising. Advertising is a form of a different step, it is a form of presentation and each whom(s) call for different how(s) and how often one has to present their information.

    As to the four questions you posed. As you know, there are many theories about how, where and how often to send out one’s message – for print and broadcast, is it in a series or in flights and does one have to be there all the time? If one has to be there all the time, either one has to have a lot of money to spend or one has to do something smaller but more often. The key, of course, it to be there when a particular market segment is interested in what one has to offer. ‘Tis a guess, for sure, when that will be.

    But, all this said, my question would be how often, in your case, current students, faculty, administration, other staff are kept informed of the advertising and other marketing efforts being done? Is there an article in the student paper listing where the school has been advertising and is it in with the paychecks of the faculty, administration, staff and, even, the alumni’s mailings? For such little extra cost, but with extra effort, marketing efforts may be a lot more effective.

    This last question is something we, in my past life as a retailer of fine jewelry. In the days when stores had a switchboard operator, cords and all, it was she who got phone calls for what was in our advertisements and had to “plug” the caller into the right department. One day she asked if she could have copies of the “tear sheets” (proofs) of our advertisements before they went in the paper or a script of what was on the radio. Funny, well really, not so funny, we, the members of the family, got the tear sheets, looked them over, threw them away. It was, if it looked OK by me, so what else to do with them but put them in the “circular file.” Her question caused us to give her copies plus post them in the lunch room, give copies to all of them to the department managers to show to the sales staff. It also caused us to look at bridal magazines and show our staff what articles or vendor advertisements related to what they were selling.

    So, my suggestion is, try it . . . you’ll like it.

    Alan J. Zell, Ambassador of Selling, Attitudes for Selling offer consulting, workshops, speaking on all business topics that affect sales. He can be reached at [email protected] For more information, please visit his website, Mr. Zell is the recipient of the the Murray Award for Marketing Excellence, He is a member of PNW Sales & Marketing Group,
    Institute of Management Consultants, International Speakers Network, and

  2. I did pull out print (7a below) as an example. However; that’s really just one of many reasons why the internal communication process is so important. Consider the following variables:

    1.Revenue drivers:
    a.Acquisition: New and win-back
    b.Expansion: Cross-sell (additional products and/or services). Up-sell (additional licenses for current products used).
    c.Retention: For my company this represents on-going maintenance revenue

    2.Targeted Personas:
    a.Developer/QA analyst (individual contributor / influencer)
    b.Team leader / Manager (some budget authority)
    c.Executive (you know what that means)

    3.Calls to Action (including nurturing process):
    a.Software evaluation download
    c.Assessment / Survey
    d.White paper
    e.Case Study
    h.Trade Show / Road Show / Webinar
    i.User Group / Networking (including LinkedIn, Facebook, etc)

    a.North America
    b.South America

    5.Industry Segmentation
    d.I won’t bother to list all of them

    6.Customers and Prospects (times multiple product sets)

    7.Message Channels
    iii.Media partners
    iv.Company web site
    v.Google search (and all the SEO stuff)
    c.Email and direct mail
    e.Sales (face-to-phone and face-to-face)

    In short, we have several moving parts to keep track of, and I’m finding that the more I educate my internal audience concerning the overall marketing strategy the more likely we are to succeed.

    Alan See
    Blog: Welcome to Marketing 101


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