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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Balanced Calendar

Perhaps the most significant error a marketer can make is to start or continue the cycle of robbing Peter (the current year) to pay Paul (the next year). The year in this case being defined by your audience whether businesses, academic institutions, government organizations, or consumers.

The challenge in marketing is to have a healthy and (**key point**) continuous pipeline of qualified leads that can be converted into sales, and to ensure that the company is meeting revenue projections and per product/line projections.

From the in-house marketing perspective of a company with multiple products, a common scenario that I've seen many times is either not taking a balanced approach. A balanced approach considers projected sales cycle, one-time versus residual sales, existing versus new customer targeting, profitability, how revenue is recognized (e.g. term versus perpetual licenses), etc.

For example, a product with a longer sales cycle may be promoted too late in the year to close deals and recognize revenue. Or, a services campaign that nets a customer who will make repeat sales may not be marketed to until too late in the year to increase the annual value of that customer. Perhaps this is more common to you marketers: there is no budget left in Q3 and/or Q4 so the next marketing spends can only occur in Q1 of the following year, in spite of the fact that "it takes money to make money." Spending in Q1, depending on your sales cycle, could mean leads aren't realized until a few quarters later which is disastrous.

To meet the demands of the current year and to keep a pipeline full into the next year, a balanced spend is required. This requires an ability to understand your audiences, their buying cycles and budgets, your products and sales team, and also marketing and other departmental resources. This is market management which is dynamic. 12-month planning is more of the traditional "marketing management" which is a more static and fixed course philosophy. Of course, as marketers, our calendar is really 22-months - assessing 4months and earlier, dealing with the 12-mo. calendar, and projecting 4months and out past the 12-mo. calendar.


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