Preparing for the good fight in marketing [Review].

Laura Conti
5 min readJun 6, 2021

“In preparing for a battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” So said the 34th president of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower. And how true this is in the world of marketing is only apparent after a few hopeful years in the field.

I take a step back in time and go back to being an intern in a communication agency, we’re talking about 9 years ago, a geological era for the marketing world. Back in 2012 the term “digital communication” was a buzzword and we hopeful interns were building projects on PowerPoint that started from the objectives slide to get to the results slide with the Hegelian presumption that the world could bend to our slides and the result was magic generated by a series of actions that were always the same (create the Facebook page, publish 3 times a week and wait for the results).

Then, with the age of maturity and reason, you look with tenderness at those old slides in Verdana or Arial to make peace with an important concept: plans are not self-fulfilling. A good marketing strategy cannot disregard three essential assumptions: analysis, hypothesis, and execution (testing).

Here I am engaged in a course that is apparently short but actually very dense in content that allowed me to make some order concerning what are the really effective marketing actions for each company, so goodbye standard solutions and seemingly easy.

The course is by Lindsey Christensen, Head of B2B Marketing at Flywire on the CXL platform founded by Peep Laja

What is marketing and the different types of marketing?
What are the stakeholders you need to align with for your campaigns?

The first thing I appreciated about this course is the approach of the teacher, extremely concrete and competent.

Her biography on Linkedin says it all.

“I’m very interested in contributing to the creation of authentic, valuable businesses and cultivating marketing organizations that contribute to them in a meaningful way. Marketing has an important role that goes far beyond spreading awareness and supporting revenue goals.

We can drive positive change in the tech industry, and the tech industry needs change. Through content, events, messaging and more, marketing serves as a gatekeeper for those issues and people who will end up in the spotlight.

Don’t let my idealistic outlook fool you, I’ve been doing this job for over 14 years, leading high-performance marketing teams in B2B technology companies and having a lot of fun doing it! Some of my favorite areas are go-to-market and product marketing, demand gen, sales enablement, content, community and ABM.”

Lindsey starts with an important first categorization, the types of marketing:
product marketing
demand generation
public relations
brand awareness
content and creativity
operations and analytics
sales enablement
events and community management

If you’re working on a strategy to achieve your business goals through marketing, you can’t ignore even one of these aspects. Not all of them, of course, are implemented in the same way or have the same impact on each company, but they are fundamental pillars of marketers’ activities.

How to approach these issues in a constructive and non-random way?
Certainly through the initial listening phase, which allows you to collect information, data, experiences, and suggestions from your interlocutors regarding these areas of marketing.
The next step is to deepen each aspect with the help of a very effective analysis technique: swot analysis.

What is the SWOT Analysis?

Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about the solutions.”

This type of analysis is the most consistent response to the need for analysis that each of us has before taking the first step toward something new.
It’s about dividing into quadrants, always for the marketing categories expressed before, what is a strength (strength) from what is a clear gap or weakness (weaknesses), what is an opportunity from what can threaten our plan. While strength and weaknesses are internal elements of the company that can be changed, opportunity and threat are external factors from which we can only defend or take advantage.

The teacher also suggests the RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) scheme to identify the stakeholders in the process and how to interface with each one. From here it is possible to obtain a template for this analysis.

From interview to practice

Once the main stakeholders have been identified and the research phase has been completed, it is time to tighten the new action plan and move on to execution. To create a strategy you need to Organize a minimally viable marketing strategy, Use an OGSM framework to align goals, objectives, strategies, and measures. Establish practices for goal setting and monitoring.
the advice is to not end up in analytical paralysis, starting with a small project while working on the strategy.

Okay, but why are you telling me all this?

This post is the result of a great training opportunity that happened to me with a little luck. On Linkedin, I follow Marco Ziero’s marketing agency MOCA (because they have a nice newsletter, very useful and a way of perceiving marketing that convinces me). From there I saw that some accounts had obtained online certifications from a portal unknown to me. After visiting the site for a few minutes I was already suffering from that strong “I wish I could but I can’t” complex. To my surprise, without believing it too much, I got a scholarship from CXL Institute, the Academy founded by Peep Laja. It is a reality that brings together many marketers that I respect and follow for a long time, with very practical courses. There remains the challenge of being able to transform the practical knowledge developed by professionals operating in an Anglo-Saxon context, a bit different from ours, and apply it in the Italian context, which is rooted in very different assumptions.
It is becoming a very interesting type of training because it allows me to write freely on some topics that involve me. This type of exercise allows me to fix some important concepts over time. Writing a lot and straining your mind to create narrative patterns about what you’ve previously assimilated tones up the muscle we should all be training frequently: the brain.
Wish me luck!