Anyone else relieved to say goodbye to 2023?
Between a clingy pandemic, civic unrest, straight-up war, and a sketchy economic climate, we’ve all had our hands and our hearts full.
But… we made it. It’s a new year, and though doom merchants are selling recession fears for ten cents on the dollar, I find myself feeling hopeful.
“Why on Earth?” You might ask.
Simple: I’m surrounded by whip-smart, resilient marketers, and I’m confident we can figure it out together. That’s exactly what Superside set out to do when we hosted the Momentum Summit back in November.
If you missed it, it was all about how marketers and designers can make smart bets in the face of uncertainty and scale through a downturn. Honestly, I’m still digesting all the lessons from the summit, so I thought creating a marketing checklist would be a good exercise.
Then I thought, you dear reader, might benefit from my Momentum-inspired marketing checklist, too. And so here we are…
Click to jump ahead:
Not to slow the momentum…
…but before we get into today’s marketing checklist, I’d like to explain, well, why these steps. In short, they all tie in with key resilience characteristics: “Being mission critical, enhanced productivity with limited resources, and a general flight to quality.”
Canny Venture Capitalist, Rajive Keshup, pointed out these characteristics in reference to sectors primed for growth, despite the predicted recession. I’d argue, they apply just as strongly to the people charged with driving that growth: Marketers.
To not just weather but get better in the year to come, marketers will need to be ruthless in their mission focus, relentless in their efficiency, and as obsessed as a cat chasing a laser pointer in their quest for quality.
Easier said than done, right?
Together, we can get there. Here are five steps to hone in on these characteristics and kick off the year with unstoppable momentum:
If you’re looking at your targets for 2024 and wondering how the heck you’re going to hit them, take a step back. Break it down.
There may be a recession in the wings, but there are things you can control.
Anderson, the marketing mind behind Austin-based AI unicorn Jasper, was talking about how to approach budgeting when she shared this nugget of wisdom. But the insight applies whether you’re a CMO wrangling an annual marketing plan or a growth marketer charting strategies and key performance indicators (KPIs) for Q1.
In fact, doing this exercise as a mid-level marketer can help you align more closely with your leader’s goals, and ultimately, the company mission. You’ll either come away with a clear path to achieving your targets, or the data you need to have a frank conversation about the odds of success and the smart bets you’ll have to make to fill the delta.
Amrita Mathur, Superside’s VP of Marketing, has a super simple way of thinking about this type of exercise. She creates two buckets:
So, checklist item number one, fill your buckets.
Marketing goals and strategies are all well and good. But there’s another, arguably even more important, aspect to being mission critical: Telling the right story.
After all, without the right story, those marketing goals will be even more elusive.
DG, as fans call him familiarly, describes positioning as a way to frame your product. With all the noise out there, a strong position finds the gaps—the lulls amidst the roar—where you can take the mic and be heard by your target audience.
His former company Drift is the perfect example. Without strong positioning, Drift could’ve easily been just another one of the 200 billion trillion stars in the galaxy of marketing tools. Instead, they rocketed to the forefront of their own category by repositioning live chat as a new way for sales teams to generate revenue, rather than a customer support tool.
Though positioning is best strategized shoulder to shoulder with your CEO, it can help to start with three simple questions:
If you can answer these three questions clearly and directly, you’ll have the foundations, or at least, the puzzle pieces for a distinctive position. And even if you already have a strong story, with the dizzying speed at which products and markets spin, it’s worth repeating this exercise to make sure your positioning is still on point.
In broad strokes, you’ve locked in your mission. You know your brand story. You’ve laid out your marketing goals… now make sure you have the space to focus on them.
Especially at the beginning of a new year, it’s easy to get sucked into 101 new projects. Growth hacker, Max Bidna, swears by the Eisenhower Matrix to help you stay cat-chasing-a-laser-pointer-focused on the right things instead.
Bidna, also known as Marketing Max, explains that everything on your to-do list falls into one of these four boxes. Naturally, we prioritize items that fit into the “urgent and important” quadrant. But Bidna cautions against focusing on this quadrant to the exclusion of less urgent, but equally important tasks.
As marketers, that often includes undertakings like customer research, branding, and positioning (see step two!). In other words, crucial work yet regularly perceived as unrelated to revenue… and thus “not urgent.”
With this important caveat in mind, here’s how to use the Eisenhower Matrix:
Follow this framework ruthlessly and see how much time you can free up in a week. Enough time for the aforementioned positioning exercise, perhaps?
It’s a tale as old as the marketing industry: You needed to launch a campaign yesterday, but your design team is stretched as thin as a lone sheet of phyllo pastry—and as prone to burning (out), too.
So the question becomes, how can you accomplish your marketing goals in a timely manner without pushing your design team past charred to full-on, ashy burnout? HubSpot’s Dmitry Shamis’ suggests exploring strategic creative collaboration.
Double negative aside, it comes down to moving from a model where your creative team takes 100% ownership of every last design task to a system where they focus on the most important, strategic projects and outsource or create self-serve processes for the rest.
Though all design is important, not every task is mission critical. (The 26th iteration of that banner ad, for example.) Coming to this understanding with your design team can help you help them unblock their pipeline, relieving pressure and producing better work along the way.
But how can you decide what to insource vs. outsource? Shamis developed a useful framework for this type of decision called the Creative 2x2 Matrix:
Using this matrix, your creative team can determine:
The idea is for your internal design team to focus on the projects that fall into the top right quadrant of this matrix and enable or empower the rest. The result is more productive working relationships, with the happy side-effect of more creative, higher quality designs.
We’ve talked prioritization and productivity tools. But on this topic, we’ve yet to tackle the not-at-all-metaphorical robot in the room: Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The release of ChatGPT this past November had the world in uproar. From comparisons to a virus released into the wild with no concern for consequences to Apple’s groundbreaking release of the iPhone in 2007, ChatGPT has both appalled and amazed the masses.
Regardless of where you fall on the appalled to amazed spectrum, there’s no denying this technology has consequences. As our own VP of Marketing put it, a tsunami is coming.
Brands that succumb to the wave and use AI as a crutch to create content risk becoming even more generic. A better plan? Surf the wave. Use AI right—to increase productivity, not replace creativity—and make the most impact in said capital scarce, resource scant world.
Already, pragmatists and productivity hackers are brainstorming ways to use AI to speed up workflows. The key is to balance real thought with artificial efficiency. For instance, I’d like to share some ideas for how to use technologies like ChatGPT to increase productivity next.
Naturally, I asked ChatGPT for its input:
I could use this response word for word—but even ChatGPT warns against this approach. Better to consider it a starting point, not a final destination. I can start by picking out a few key themes: Campaign ideation, content marketing, social media marketing, and customer relationship management (CRM).
From here, I can think up additional uses for AI in marketing and research each idea in more depth, ideally conducting tests and gathering expert insights. (We do, in fact, have an article in the works on this very topic so subscribe and stay tuned!)
But for the purposes of today’s article, I’ll stick with a few quick ideas to get the experiments rolling and your workflows a-flowing…
Commit to experimenting with AI, starting with these five simple ideas:
We all know wishy-washy resolutions won’t help in this wacky world, but smart bets and concrete steps will. Hopefully, today’s marketing checklist provided plenty of the latter.
To make each step even more actionable, here are some satisfying boxes you can check off as you work through the list:
Of course, these are just a few actions inspired by the Momentum Summit: Fueling Growth During Uncertain Times. For more positioning tips, growth hacks, and design discussions, you’re welcome to watch any of the 11 sessions on-demand.
Also available on-demand: Superside’s design services. If you could use a reliable creative partner to help you scale design without increasing headcount or bloating the marketing budget, see the bonus step below.
Tessa is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Superside with a background in conversion copywriting and B2B marketing for SaaS companies. As a publishing graduate and a digital marketing agency veteran with almost a decade of experience, she has a deep appreciation for the art of storytelling and the power of human emotion combined with creativity. When she’s not putting metaphorical pen to paper, she can be found (literally) herding cats, reading books and crushing crosswords. You can connect with her on LinkedIn here.