I recently wrote a post on the successful sales manager’s magic word. That word was buffer.

It might also be prudent to offer a suggestion on what the successful marketing manager’s magic word is.

That word is buffer, as well. In fact, building buffer is a pretty good mantra for everything we do, from all types of work to how we manage our leisure time, our coffee appointments, our train departures and our meetings.

Just as the successful sales manager builds buffer around a team target that’s lower than the sum of the individual rep targets, so too should the successful marketing manager build buffers around the different marketing initiatives, especially around demand generation which in B2B circles is so essential to the successful sales manager, relying as they do on a steady stream of leads from marketing.

If you have a team of individual outbound ‘demand gen’ reps working the phones, make sure that the total of their individual targets is more than the team or company total. Similarly, if you have a range of outbound activities planned for the quarter, make sure that the sum of the targets for each of those activities – in terms of leads, opportunities and resulting revenues – exceeds the team or company total. You need to insure yourself against activities not happening or underperforming, or a rep underperforming, getting sick or leaving to give you a back-fill headache.

Remember to go back and measure the actual performance against target too, for the previous period. Then over time you can improve and be able to refine the amount of buffer you need to build into each area.

Even the best laid plans and estimates go awry. Give yourself some buffer, to make sure you can over-deliver on your promises.