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Webinar Recap: How NI Revamped Its Marketing Planning

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Budgeting and planning are among the most frustrating exercises marketing teams go through each year. That’s why NI (formerly National Instruments) turned to SiriusDecisions’ Campaign Framework and Allocadia to attempt to bring sanity back to this annual activity and create better strategic alignment for their key priorities.

Helena Lewis, senior group manager for global marketing operations and technology at NI, joined me for How NI Revamped Marketing Planning Using the SiriusDecisions Campaign Framework, the latest webinar in our #RunMarketingseries.

Read the recap below to learn how Helena and her teamed turned this framework into reality — and how a change like this can help you gain credibility, alignment and accountability within your marketing organization.

Changing How NI Approached Planning

NI is a $1.5 billion high-tech hardware and software company, with over 600 marketers worldwide. But like many organizations:

  • Its planning process changed each year.
  • Their marketing investments weren’t connected to their go-to-market plan.
  • They were organized by products and regions rather than global campaigns and goals — which kept them from benefitting from a more holistic view of marketing.
  • With too many people involved, marketing planning was extremely challenging and frustrating.

The adjustments NI made over the past 12 – 18 months were driven by three key actions:

  1. Evolving from a product focus to a customer-needs-based solution focus.
  2. Making sure there was global and regional accountability and transparency around the new marketing plan framework (SiriusDecisions Campaign Framework).
  3. Finding the right technologies to enable their organizational change.

Making the Framework Real

As a longtime SiriusDecisions customer, NI had tried adopting the Campaign Framework in smaller pieces. But a piecemeal approach made it difficult to measure and operationalize around it.

To make the framework work for its 600-member marketing organization, NI worked with SiriusDecisions on small adjustments that retained the framework’s original intent.

For example, when constructing the go-to-market framework, it includes both SiriusDecisions campaigns and product-focused marketing plans. This enabled NI to build connections from product objectives to revenue targets — and show how different marketing initiatives are contributing to those objectives.


To connect budgeting to the planning process, NI defined targets and allocations by campaign. For example, 30 percent of the budget goes to overarching campaigns, 50 percent goes to product group demand creation and 20 percent goes to areas spanning across the other two categories — like account-based marketing and user conferences. Having formal guidelines like these allows NI to track how individual marketers are aligning to intended investments within Allocadia’s marketing performance management software.


To ensure accountability, NI also changed team members’ roles and responsibilities and centralized functions. For example, campaign managers who used to report within product groups became centralized within corporate marketing.

Another key realization for NI was the need to implement and adopt a formal decision-making process — in this case, the RAPID Model. It made all the difference for its worldwide team to know exactly when, where and which people were involved throughout the stages of NI’s planning process.


Using Technology to Enable these Changes

Prior to adopting Allocadia, each region created its own version of the marketing plan — all in Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations — making it extremely challenging to  connect field to corporate during planning and budgeting.


Allocadia’s ability to report by dimensions — for example, by program family, campaign, media type, tactic type and region — has enabled NI to merge its planning and reporting with how the regional marketing organizations are executing.


A core set of tags across Allocadia, Salesforce, Eloqua and other systems is NI’s “secret sauce” to easily join different data sources together. Ongoing training, cheat sheets and audits keep the field marketers aware of the tagging process, because without integrity, insights quickly deteriorate due to bad data.


Running Marketing More Efficiently

For NI, transforming marketing planning has allowed the marketing organization to:

  • Gain better insights and greater transparency.
  • Achieve greater accountability into how marketing is performing.
  • Have more informed and strategic conversations about optimizing marketing performance.

Hear more tips from Helena about making an industry framework real for your organization and about leveraging technology for greater transparency, accountability and confidence in your marketing planning in the full webinar recording.