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Just like any structure is built on a sturdy foundation, marketing depends on a strong, ground-up approach, or all else may crumble.

Marketing success isn’t derived from a single outperforming team member, a highly efficient technology integration or one successful campaign. Instead, a strong marketing core layers in success from multiple campaigns, perspectives, team members and stakeholders.

Laying a strong foundation is easier said than done, and it requires teams to take a step back and truly gut check where their successes stand. This is especially true if you’ve been operating at a “business-as-usual” mentality without raising eyebrows.

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Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated to be more current and comprehensive.

"High performers differentiate by doing, not planning. Do your homework, put strategies in place, and then start testing and revising."
— The Marketing Performance Blueprint

Consider this scenario . . .

A B2B SaaS company with $10M in funding and aggressive growth goals is struggling to meet lead generation targets. The CMO fears they’re going to fall short of Q4 goals.

The marketing team is blogging 2x per week, and producing a high-quality ebook with an accompanying webinar each month. But, not enough people are organically finding the content.

What do they do?

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Behind every great marketing campaign is a documented strategy.

Sometimes you can simply start executing on tactics that sound promising and see what sticks; but most often, strategy is what drives real results.

According to Smart Insights, 49% still don’t have a digital marketing strategy. Another poll from Inbound Method found that 75% don’t have an inbound marketing strategy.

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According to Content Marketing Institute Research Director Lisa Beets (@LisaBeets), “Nearly all top-performing B2B content marketers—90%—put their audience’s informational needs ahead of their company’s sales/promotional message.”

That’s a far cry from the marketers of the past, who pushed promotional messaging at consumers with a wish and a prayer that someone would convert.

Today, more B2B marketers than ever rely on a content marketing approach. To quantify the trends among this group, each year, Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs gather up their extensive survey findings for a B2B content marketing report.

Image credit: Content Marketing World and MarketingProfs

The trends informing the savvy content marketer’s year-end planning have become even more reliable this year, as CMI and MarketingProfs only surveyed respondents whose organizations have used content marketing for at least one year. They also qualified respondents “by asking them to confirm they are a content marketer, someone who is involved with content marketing, or someone to whom content marketing staff reports.”

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Over the past year at PR 20/20, we’ve spent time reflecting on our core audience—who they truly are and how we can inspire them. We call these people change agents. In the words of a colleague, a change agent is “a visionary who looks beyond, brings vision to life, and successfully champions ideas forward.” 

These marketers aren't afraid to take risks to make an impact. So, we decided to spotlight these professionals in an ongoing series so we can all learn from their successes (and failures too).

In this spotlight, we’ve featured Cathy McPhillips (@cmcphillips), Vice President of Marketing at Content Marketing Institute (@CMIContent). Just in case you’re not familiar, CMI is the leading global content marketing education and training organization, teaching enterprises how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multi-channel storytelling. 

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I’m surrounded by smart people. Some would call them strategists. Some would call them visionaries. Every day, I’m inspired to learn from my colleagues, clients, industry peers … I learn a lot about life from my two-year-old son, too.

As an agency, I believe this power to strategize, collaborate, and bring visionary ideas to life is our core strength. It’s part of our culture. And it’s part of each person we work with. It’s that power to look beyond that drives us—always forward.

And it’s no accident that Look Beyond is our company tagline.

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Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated to be more current and comprehensive.

Lights, camera, action. Video has taken the marketing world by storm, and it's here to stay.

Think video marketing is just another fad? Think again. Our customers are demanding it, and the proof is in the numbers

  • 82% of consumers surveyed indicated that they favor live video over other types of social media posts.
  • Video content receives 12 times more shares than text and images, combined.
  • Video viewers retain 95% of a message when they see a video— compared to only 12% of written word.
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Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated to be more current and comprehensive.

Brands have a major problem using the S-word. The term strategy is so overused by marketing departments and agencies that it is, in many cases, meaningless. They build marketing or content strategies. They think or act strategically.

Too often, marketers are irresponsibly using strategy and its variants as synonyms for planning.

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Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated to be more current and comprehensive.

The proliferation of marketing channels, apps, mobile devices, social networks and content has given consumers more choices and greater control, while increasing complexity for marketers.

We want to help simplify and optimize the marketing planning process for your business.

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Getting executive buy-in is a massive challenge for marketers—and it’s just one of several major challenges holding them back.

Recent surveys from organizations including Gartner, Content Marketing Institute and The CMO Council continue to prove that marketing strategy is a massive pain point for marketing professionals.

More intelligent insights and access to smarter marketing technologies have led to a state of complete analysis paralysis. So, how can we bring data, technology and talent full-circle with a performance-driven marketing strategy?

After a bit of research and deliberation with my internal team, it was clear that we needed to bring in the undeniable experts for this conversation. So, we asked top marketing minds how to solve for this problem—zeroing in on team alignment, goal setting, campaign reporting and more.

Top marketers weighed in, and they had a lot to say. So, we’ve created a three-part series to cover all key pieces of a performance-driven strategy.

Read on to see what the experts recommend.

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