Imagine the scene: a kindergarten class returns from gym to find each of their desks readied with construction paper, macaroni, glue, strands of colored yarn, and some glitter. What's going to happen?Why is it going to happen? Who asked for this activity? Will anyone care?
Fast forward: After a few weeks, the project, formerly displayed on the refrigerator, is placed into a box which is slid beneath a bed. It will see the light of day only after the passing of one or two decades. Even then, it will only be viewed for a scant few minutes, then returned to the netherworld.
This, my friends, is what we in the B2B Marcom world refer to as an art project; something started without a goal. A project conceived merely because someone had a few resources on hand and some time. Something that no one requested. Something that has no purpose. Where I come from, we aggressively discourage and avoid art projects.
In B2B Marcom it is critical to, "always begin at the end."
When I practice this philosophy, I like to imagine that it is a few days after our program is wrapped (the end). I close my eyes and tell myself to envision my team high-fiving, laughing, and celebrating. I see that we're giddy because of a great accomplishment; a success that really mattered. A victory that is a game-changer. I then ask myself these very telling questions:
- exactly who?
- did exactly what?
- such that we are delighted?
Then, I backtrack from that point. I determine what would have been required to make that highly-valued achievement. I ask myself how I assembled all the required pieces (the money, the intelligence, the people, the vendors, etc.). I ask myself how I gained the critical insight into the customers' needs. I backtrack again and again, through all the layers until I reach the present. I begin the process at the end, the glorious celebration of a meaningful accomplishment, and work to today - connecting the dots along the way. If I can do this successfully in my imagination, then I reverse the process in reality and get to work.
What "always begin at the end" means is that we should practice goal-oriented project management. Some critical elements of a goal-oriented B2B Marcom project include:
- goal - in writing
- some classic high-level B2B Marcom goals are: enhanced brand, image
- build trust and acceptance
- generate sales leads
- enhance your rate of invitation to quote or to participate in projects
- earn respected status amongst customers and peers
- universal acceptance (amongst your team) of the written goal:
- just because you and your Marcom cronies love the goal, it doesn't mean that your product managers, tech service staff, and field sales people will understand, embrace, and adopt it
- resources enough to enable you to attain your goal:
- not only will a project struggle (maybe collapse) if it is under-resourced, but your credibility may also be damaged
Your efforts should be much more worthy than a couple of short weeks of "All Fridge" status. Aim to create tools that are extremely effective and that align with your organization's larger effort. Always begin at the end.