If you look at the world of marketing today, it is a dizzying merry-go-round of trillions of gigabytes of data and millions of dollars and customers.
When facing this wall of numbers, individual meaning gets blurred, and the question becomes: How do you extract yourself from this loop and gain a clearer perspective on the true drivers of marketing?
Simple. You step back and focus only on what brings value to the business.
Marketing is no longer just about the sales funnel. While lead generation and sales are important arms of any organization, the real value lies in activities that generate measurable business results. Through 15 years of research, there is convincing proof that highlighting how marketing activities are helping achieve business objectives, is the only way to demonstrate value and become a Value Creator, recruiting the C-suite as your champion in the process.
Becoming a Value Creator is a transformative process. It takes creative diligence, a methodical approach, and significant effort. It is not an overnight transformation. You must invest time, energy, and money to create value, earn credibility, and have strategic influence.
People often ask about the benefit of reorienting their entire marketing approach. They assume that because they are generating revenue and everyone is generally pleased with the results, that everything is working just fine. But having ok results is not good enough. In our intensely competitive world, where adaptability is paramount, change is the norm, and unique approaches are expected, you need to establish credibility. How do you do that? By securing the championship of your C-suite. When you choose to operate like a Value Creator you will have the data to back up the success of your campaigns and programs. Once you have the data, you will have support, and when you have support, you will have the budget you really need.
How do you make the leap from being sales oriented to value driven? How do you attain the status of a Value Creator? There are 10 stations on the marketing excellence trainline.
1. Develop Business Acumen
The Conference Executive Board defines business acumen as “an understanding of my company’s strategy and ‘ecosystem,’ including global trends, macroeconomic shifts, and regulatory changes.”
Understanding the trajectory of a business in relationship to its environment is not something you are born knowing how to do. However, it is essential that you develop this skill. Start by focusing less on today’s to-do list. Instead, immerse yourself in your industry. Gain clarity around what the business is about, where it is going, and what it will take to get there. Analyze the competitive landscape.
2. Show Clear Impact
How do you communicate the impact of your contribution to the business? Think about it. Do all of your objectives connect directly to an outcome? Does everything have an outcome-based performance target? Or is your plan merely a list of activities with some content and budget? Only after you understand your alignment to the business can you begin to execute your approach.
3. Measure What Matters
Everyone wants to know if they’re measuring the right thing. Although it may seem a difficult question to answer, there is hope. Since literally everything can be measured, you have to remember that not everything ‘should’ be measured. You can easily pinpoint what is worth analyzing by selecting your metrics with outcomes in mind. When you seek business-aligned outcomes, you naturally become more inclined to measure business-relevant data.
4. Become Data Competent
Don’t forget; data is not there to simply be amassed and reported. If you’re collecting data, you need to know how to use it strategically. To do this, you need to mine the data and sift out its hidden gems – the insights.
When you have learned to capture something of value, you aren’t as easily overwhelmed by the volume of incoming data. Instead, you can focus on using the relevant particles to help you make strategic decisions, improve effectiveness, and make course adjustments on a timely basis.
5. Improve Relevancy
When you begin mining out useful data points, they will start to form a picture of your marketing environment and associated trends. Once you’ve identified a trend, you need to make this data relevant to the C-suite. How does this information affect them and the business? Use this data and combine it with your knowledge of the overall business to defend your marketing decisions. It will make a significant difference.
6. Use Analytics That Fulfill A Purpose
Even if you are already carefully monitoring your measurements and defining your data, it is all for naught if you do not analyze your findings.
A study conducted by the CMO Council revealed that only 35% of marketing decisions are made using marketing analytics. Use your analytics to improve marketing effectiveness and positively impact business outcomes. Select the right metrics that measure and report marketing’s value to the business.
7. Connect To The Customer
In marketing, everything connects to the customer. In fact, this year over 50% of 600 CFOs in the recent CFO Alliance Study identified marketing efforts or expanding relationships with existing customers as the top strategic factor driving annual company growth and profitability. What does this mean to you? It means that when you market, you need to address people, not just buckets of revenue.
8. Set Performance Targets
Without a performance target, marketing can arbitrarily declare success. The opposite is true too: others in the organization can arbitrarily declare failure. The only way to overcome this double-edged sword is to excel at performance target setting and communicating the results.
9. Use Three Power Tools Consistently
When you work with data, you need the right tools. As a Value Creator, your 3 most valuable tools are data inventories, metrics catalogs, and metrics chains.
A metrics chain is the sequence of metrics that forms the links between activity, output, operational, and outcome metrics. When the metrics chain is delineated clearly, you will avoid wallowing in a sea of data. For example, if your company needs to acquire a certain number of new customers in a particular segment to achieve market share and revenue targets. Marketing will need to generate an adequate number of qualified prospects from within that segment who will participate in a trial. To support the objective, let’s say your marketing team develops a four-touch (e.g., direct messages, whitepaper, presentation, newsletter), multichannel (social, email, website, webinar, slide share, syndication, etc.) campaign, based on key personas and the customer buying process. Each of those touches and channels will have a performance target designed to produce trial inquiries. When properly constructed, your metrics will form a chain that links all your marketing programs, product inquiries, and trials, with customer acquisition and market share.
These links and their associated data serve as an excellent vehicle for connecting marketing efforts to business results. Metrics chains will thus become the foundation for your reporting/dashboard.
10. Employ Dashboards Not Graphical Reports
Don’t assume that the value in your reports is apparent. Instead of a simple report that shows graphical representations of numbers, Value Creators design dashboards that show how marketing is contributing to the business. Well-defined dashboards facilitate actions and decisions, tell organizations what is and isn’t working, and help mitigate risk.
What’s The Payoff?
When it comes to being able to have business impact, showing marketing’s value to the business is key. If you begin by combining acumen, alignment, and analytical accountability using the 10 steps above, you will start to generate the credibility and influence necessary to acquire the resources and budget that marketing needs to fulfill its potential.