Too many marketers think their job is done when they deliver a stack of leads to the sales group. But unless marketing and sales both agree on what constitutes a "qualified" lead—and marketing helps to move potential customers towards done deals - you can't turn hot prospects into cold, hard cash. Make sure you follow up regularly to see the leads through to completion.

There are many ways to carry out marketing processes such as building brands and segmenting markets. But if you don't select a consistent and transparent approach for each process - and communicate that approach to peers throughout your organization - you'll never be recognized as reliable, and you'll spawn profit-sapping confusion. It's not important that you select a specific method - what works for one company may not work for another. But what is important is that you establish systematic methods.

New opportunities such as innovative technologies, vendor services and corporate best practices may look enticing, but you'll end up wasting a lot of invested time and money if they don't help you generate profit. Make sure to evaluate each opportunity through a cash-flow lens. Ask how the innovation will help increase return or more accurately determine marketing's impact.

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