11 Things Aerospace Marketers Can Do to Work Smarter, Not Harder

shutterstock_251251270We hear it all the time. Aerospace marketers are overwhelmed and overburdened. Many are at wit’s end trying to deal with a never-ending barrage of requests, requirements and demands on their time.

We get it. Many aerospace companies have cut budgets and raised expectations. At the same time, tried and true marketing tactics keep changing, and learning new techniques and technologies is one more thing to do.

For those who are committed to making a change, there are ways to accomplish more without working more, just by approaching things differently. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

1. Set Goals

Having goals gives you focus, and by focusing on the desired results you can stop spending time and money on things that won’t get you where you’re going.

Using BDN as an example, we set annual sales and marketing goals that link directly to revenue goals. We use a few Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), both behavioral and performance based, to monitor progress and identify challenges.

New Breed Marketing outlines a step-by-step goal-setting process here.

2. Have a Strategy and a Plan

There are lots of tools and tactics — many more than you have time or budget to support. Having a strategy linked to goals will keep you from veering off course. It also helps you spend more time working proactively and less time reacting to someone else’s priorities.

We have five strategic drivers and six tactical areas of focus. One of those is emphasizing content-driven inbound and nurturing techniques. This supports a strategic effort to further refine and build our expert aerospace marketing positioning. With the exception of travel, the majority of our marketing budget is now spent on content development and delivery.

It’s time to start planning for 2016 now. This handy template may help you.

3. Start Measuring

Based on goals, establish three to five KPIs and track them at regular intervals. Your tactics are either moving you toward your goals, or they are not. Aim over time to build a measurement program that shows a return on investment for marketing. But don’t let yourself get stuck in the paralysis by analysis trap.

BDN has dashboards that measure the effectiveness of specific tactics with an overall emphasis on engagement and conversion. We also track things like customer turnover, close rates and average value of sale.

Marketo’s Marketing Measurement Cheat Sheet is a good place to start learning more.

4. Take Ownership

The ability to measure and track success, including ROI, puts you in a position of authority with senior leadership and opinionated colleagues. When you own the Marketing function and are recognized as the authority, you’ll be in a strong position to say no to the many requests that just don’t support organizational goals. Don’t let them think of you as the person who does brochures. Be the person who drives revenue.

Our plan is our bible, and while it doesn’t mean we can't adjust if warranted, there needs to be a well thought out and strategic rationale for changing direction. Just having a good idea isn’t good enough.

Hubspot offers actionable advice here.

5. Re-evaluate

Ignore anyone who tells you “we’ve always done it this way.” Evaluate every expenditure and every opportunity with a critical eye. Why are we going to this trade show or convention? What did we get from it last year? What do we plan to accomplish this time? Ask hard questions and require a return on every investment.

Our marketing starts with a completely clean slate every year. This year, for example, we attended a Schedulers and Dispatchers event for the first time, but that doesn’t mean it will automatically be on the schedule for 2016. We don’t worry about what other firms are doing or what the market expects. We carefully invest in activities that work and that support our specific goals.

For comparison and context, here’s how other B2B marketers are allocating funds.

6. Learn to Love Technology

It will help you with everything from project management to analytics to social media scheduling. For example…

7. Marketing Automation

We use it and we love it — because it works, and it pulls everything together, using data and measurement to assess effectiveness of campaigns. Marketing automation, according to the experts at Hubspot, is software and tactics that allow companies to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers. It’s both automated and personal, a seeming contradiction in terms, while also being highly targeted, making it ideal for aerospace marketers who usually have clearly defined targets. Slice and dice the audience in any way that works for you, whether it’s by the missions they fly, the aircraft in their fleet, or their role in the organization, the sky’s the limit.

Here’s an infographic that may help make automation easier to understand.

8. Lists

Database maintenance is tedious and time-consuming, yet it’s vital to marketing success. Sirius Decisions Research reports that 10-25 percent of B2B marketing database contacts contain critical errors, which translate into a lot of missed opportunities. Someone needs to own, update and be accountable for this data and the painstaking work required to do it right. According to CMO.com, high-performing marketing departments have assigned owners of the data, often part of the marketing operations function, and an ongoing plan for assessing and repairing data quality. Make this part of your long-term core strategy, they advise, and you’ll see positive results over time.

An upcoming edition of the Marketing Flight Manual will feature a BDN case study that clearly illustrates the importance of list building. You won’t believe what we learned and accomplished in just 30 days!

Suggestion: Lists, marketing automation and a robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system go hand-in-hand. Work closely with Sales (see No. 9) to maximize your chances of success.

9. Pay Attention to Your Website

Your website is the gateway to your brand. This is where buyers go first to learn about your company and capabilities, and it literally can make or break a sale. The Content Marketing Institute provides an eye-opening take on how websites can positively or negatively impact trust and credibility with B2B buyers.

If your website fails to make it easy for prospects to contact you and to quickly understand what you do, one-third to one-half of your potential buyers will leave and never return. As buyers ourselves, we should know how annoying it is to search a site for contact information, yet a lot of B2B companies still make it really hard to contact them. For an industry pulse, we checked the websites of a few firms listed on the Aerospace Industries Association website.

SAIC provides one phone number to reach corporate headquarters, but makes you fill out a form (a big no-no, according to the survey) for everything else.

Leidos makes it even harder – you have to fill out a form and select from a list of reasons you want to connect. They actually say, “Please select a reason for contacting us.”

Thales (USA) does not make anything easy to find, but if you dig deeply enough (under About Us and then US locations) you might eventually get what you need.

Embraer Hurray! A largely commercial company will surely be customer-friendly, right? Nope. Just one more form to fill out.

BDN As for BDN, we have a dedicated contact page that is featured in top-level navigation, making it easy to find without an exhaustive search. It does include a form, but we don’t force anyone to use it. Our phone, email and social media links are clearly presented and visible.

We randomly looked at a number of other industry websites and found no examples — not one — that provided contact information in an open, inviting, customer-friendly fashion. Our customers deserve better, and we as an industry should do better.

10. Partnerships

Externally, be open to partnering with complimentary businesses. Partnerships can act as force multipliers to help you extend your reach, budget and bandwidth. Consider the benefits of pooling data (See No. 7), sharing the cost of a mailing or sponsorship, or even raising your international profile.

Internally, make peace with the sales organization. By joining forces, sales and marketing can deliver a better sales experience and drive better results. A McKinsey survey provided insight into complex, multi-touch point sales processes, finding that the “most destructive” failing in sales is when the sales force lacks adequate product knowledge and contacts customers too frequently. The key is to have fewer, more meaningful customer interactions — and marketing can help shape that with the right content delivered at the right time — but it has to be a unified effort.

BDN has a well-defined sales funnel that mirrors how our customers buy, with key touch points, and our business development, sales and marketing teams are in lockstep, working as true partners toward a common goal. Learn more.

11. Get Help

Is it time to hire an outside marketing firm? This in-depth white paper examines the pros and cons of engaging external marketing resources and includes tips for finding the right fit.

Download the white paper here.