I just read a study from Fournaise Marketing Group, a London consultancy, about the challenges we marketers have gaining credibility for our initiatives with C-Level management. Three issues particularly interested me:
- We talk too much about brand, not enough about revenue. 77% of CEOs say marketers talk about brand, brand values and brand equity but fail to link this back to the results they care about: revenue, sales, earnings or market valuation.
- There isn’t enough emphasis on measuring effectiveness. 72% say marketing departments ask for more money but can’t explain how much incremental business this money will generate. What’s worse, when asked to increase their marketing ROI, 73% of CEOs see marketing respond with cost-cutting ideas stemming from better economies of scale or tougher negotiations with their third-party partners, instead of top-line growth generation like more prospects and sales opportunities.
- Marketing tends to focus on the wrong things. 67% of CEOs believe marketers don’t think enough like businesspeople: another 67% think marketers focus too much on the creative, “fluffy” side of marketing and not enough on business science. These CEOs think marketing relies too heavily on agencies to come up with the next big idea.
Does that sound like you? It may be hard to believe – but the theme here is that we think there is more art than science to what we do – and marketing can only have success if we start thinking scientifically about generating business value.
Laura Ramos, a former Forrester consultant, suggests that we put “analytics into action”. We must:
- Plan and execute marketing programs based on business results. Measure opportunities generated, like “influence on sales pipeline”, conversion rates and other metrics that relate to business outcomes.
- Develop lead-management processes. Put processes in place to help both sales and marketing generate new business opportunities, manage volumes of business inquiries and improve potential buyers’ propensity to purchase.
- Use their language to describe our marketing results. As the Fournaise survey clearly demonstrates, C-Level executives are not interested in the “art” behind marketing. Plain and simple; they want marketing to send qualified leads to sales that generate revenue.
- Determine what customers want, not what you’re trying to sell them. Get to know your buyer by listening to them and learning why and how they buy. Make it an ongoing part of the planning, execution and measurement process by asking, “How will this change the nature of our relationship with customers and how will we know we achieved that?”
- Use analytics to help distinguish signal from noise. Invest in tools and process to help gather and analyze data. And to better understand customer segments and purchase patterns. Then apply these insights to campaigns and show how marketing impacts revenue, earnings, and market share.
The Fournaise study is an eye-opener for those who believe they can use marketing creativity as a key strategy. Success comes from knowing your customers and how marketing programs affect their purchase behavior, and our ability to duplicate the initiatives that are generating true business value.
Mike Hardman (@HardmanGroup) is the president of Hardman Group, a B2B marketing agency. He has 30+ years of experience in marketing, advertising and sales promotion. Mike has extensive expertise in consumer behavior research and strategic business.