Demonstrate your work’s value to the higher-ups with these four fresh strategies.

Many executives think of marketing as a cost: You pay to market your product, and the sales team generates the revenue. But that perspective can leave marketers with underfunded campaigns, looking for a way to demonstrate their worth. You’re pretty sure what you do leads to sales, but why is it so hard to prove it?

Don’t worry, marketing is far from doomed. Here’s how to switch up your focus in the new year, and redefine your marketing team as a revenue-generating resource:

Ride the Revenue Cycle

It’s time for marketing to stop thinking in terms of campaigns and start contextualizing their work within the revenue cycle. In a traditional linear process, marketing campaigns generate leads, which are then passed onto sales.

But this approach has become increasingly inefficient, and doesn’t acknowledge the many points of contact that a company may have with a potential customer.

Both marketing and sales should be redefining the big picture, and how they fit within it. The new idea of a “revenue cycle” acknowledges that the process begins with the first customer contact and continues past the sale into a dynamic customer relationship.

Embrace the Attribution Revolution

Some major marketing channels are no better than a shot in the dark. Billboards, subway ads, TV commercials — while they undoubtedly get in front of many eyeballs, in most cases it just isn’t clear how these efforts translate into revenue.

Meanwhile, the pressure is on for marketers to prove the value of their efforts, not just to justify (and grow) their budgets, but to better shape their overall strategies.

The good news is that it’s easier than ever for marketers to gather data, especially online, which has led to a massive shift over the past decade. With pay-per-click ads, social media digital video, emails, and so on, it’s possible — and imperative — that you track customers as they engage with your company across your full array of touchpoints.

Of course, then the challenge is assessing which of those touchpoints actually convinced that person to buy. The heart of attribution is understanding exactly how valuable a given channel is for converting customers. This is where attribution models come into play, and there’s no perfect answer here — customer data analytics is a constantly evolving science.

Still, your best bet is to diversify your efforts across channels that offer the strongest attribution, to ensure that you have the numbers on where, when, and how your customers are engaging.

Own Your Channels

Owned channels are those you create and control, and are the cornerstone of a successful online presence. You won’t be surprised to hear that includes your website, social media, and blog.

But you might be surprised at how many businesses fall behind on populating these assets with quality content, like regular blog posts, videos, infographics, e-books — anything that helps you build your brand, gain followers, and boost your SEO rankings.

Owned channels work best in tandem with strong strategies for the two other types of channels, earned and paid. Earned means people are engaging positively with your brand — shares, reposts, reviews, and references on 3rd party websites are typical examples. Paid channels are simply that—paid marketing that can include anything from T.V. commercials to PPC advertisements.

You can’t build a business on owned channels alone. That said, all the ads and mentions in the world will fall flat if they refer the potential customer to a lackluster website. Owned channels are the best way to create the kind of quality content and thought leadership that customers expect from top brands.

Play Nice With Sales

It’s not enough to get excited about page views or new followers. Marketing and sales need to work together to convert leads into buyers — which means they should talk to each other. If marketing doesn’t know how sales talks about the product, they won’t be able to accurately prepare leads for a positive conversation.

Ideally, marketing both engages and educates the customer, especially B2B reps looking for specific solutions. By the time the sales team reaches out, the relationship should already be warm. By this point the customer should be familiar with the brand and understand how it could solve their problem. If marketing and sales are aligned, this handoff will feel seamless for everyone.

Marketing and sales should also be on the same page about expectations. What makes a lead ready to talk to sales — is it enough if they input their email address in a form? Do you wait until they come knocking?

When you take the time to sit down and talk, don’t be surprised if marketing and sales think about customers using entirely different criteria, goals, and jargon. Work together now to set guidelines going forward, and you’ll be surprised at the difference.

Take 2019 By Storm

Relying on outdated, familiar marketing methods will only generate you all-too-familiar results. As we enter a new year, make it fresh — it’s time talk to sales, rethink your strategies, and position yourself for success.