When you’re in marketing and sales, you’ve got to mind the gap, otherwise you may never emerge from it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a start-up launching a new business, a business launching a new product, or a company planning its sales targets for the next 4 quarters, there’s always a gap for marketing and a gap for sales.

By this I mean that there is a lag effect. The marketing lag is from the time you start thinking about marketing to people, actually marketing to them with your finished content, to someone putting their hand up and saying ‘Talk to me, I’m interested.’ The sales lag is from the time someone puts their hand up, through the period of qualifying whether they’re a good fit for your business, through to them signing the deal. Add the marketing lag and the sales lag, otherwise known as the sales cycle, and you’ve got a pretty big gap before you’re turning your stuff into cash.

So, if you’re a start-up and your product’s not ready yet, you need to start marketing right now: blogging, tweeting, emailing. Building up a head of steam so that you can have real conversations once your product is ready takes at least 6 months. That’s half a year, which sounds much worse than 6 months.

Same if you’re an existing business about to launch a new product. You have to mind the map, similar rules apply. And if you’re building your 2019 financial year’s sales figures, you need the marketing to kick in in 2018. Companies selling complex products and services with a 3-month sales cycle will not see any marketing activities from one quarter converted to sales in the same quarter. It might not be the quarter after that either, when you factor in the sequential lag time of the marketing and sales gaps.

How many companies who do a business plan for year Y plan the marketing effort for year X? Not many. And certainly not the ones who finish their year Y plan at the very end of year X, or even the start of year Y. Those companies can write off any help at all from marketing, probably for the first half of the year.

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