marketing operations

Free Benchmarking–Does Your Marketing Measure Up?

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Here’s something we know after conducting the marketing performance measurement and management study since 2001: Best-in-Class marketers are relentless when it comes to continuous improvement. How do they know how they stack up? They regularly audit and benchmark. We know this can be expensive—even a small benchmarking study for marketing typically takes at least $20,000. With marketing budgets still feeling the crunch, it makes sense to be a bit more creative when it comes to benchmarking. And that’s where our annual marketing performance study comes in!

There are plenty of studies out there, and only you can decide which ones are worth your time. As a marketer you could probably complete a study every day, but if you are feeling the pressure to prove the value of your marketing, then this survey is for you. With 13 years under its belt and participation from marketing professionals and executives from around the world, in every industry and of all size organizations, we are able to provide a solid view into what Best-in-Class marketers do better and differently when it comes to measuring marketing’s contribution and value.

Given how hard you’re working every day, it’s frustrating when budgets are slashed and programs are terminated. You know Marketing is highly valuable to the business, but can you prove it? If you can, you may be among the ranks of the Best-in-Class—those marketers who have made marketing relevant to the C-Suite! If you can’t, it’s probably time to make some changes.

Find out how your organization stacks up against the Best-in-Class. Give 15 minutes of your time to participate in the 13th Annual MPM Survey and save the benchmarking dollars.

What does the survey benchmark? The focus of the survey is Marketing Alignment, Accountability, Analytics, Operations, and Performance Management capabilities. Complete the survey, share the link with your marketing colleagues and leadership team, and use the survey and the upcoming results to spark internal dialogue on the state of your marketing!

You can access the survey by following this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2014MPM_VEM

 

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Creating a Change Agent Culture in Marketing

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This year, numerous studies of the marketing discipline and numerous articles highlighted the challenge and need for marketing to capture, manage, synthesize and leverage data and analytics. Marketing organizations around the world want to become more data-driven, but the explosion and rapidly growing volume of data as well as the lack of effective tools make this difficult. In the meantime, they are revamping their organizational lineup, adding more analytical talent and capabilities that enable them to boil oceans of data and produce mountains of reports.  

Access to this information and refined analytical and process skills create an opportunity for marketers to generate business-relevant insights. Having the necessary skills and technological infrastructure are becoming table stakes to successfully compete and serve customers. These capabilities are evolving into the building blocks of every marketing organization’s foundation.  Today, marketing leaders use data, analytics, metrics, and modeling to tackle point problem and to enable organizational change. To be effective change agents, marketing leaders need to move from being a blocking and tackling organization to taking a more holistic approach — one that integrates analytical, process, strategy, planning, and performance management expertise. 

Being a change agent is a noble aspiration, but what does that entail? Change agents are catalysts. A successful change agent improves the organization’s ability to achieve a higher degree of output. When acting as a change agent, marketing leads the creation of a vision of what could or should be. Marketers then identify what it takes to realize this vision and go about amending or replacing strategies, procedures, and processes that are obstacles to achieving the vision. We operate on two planes — one where the organization currently is, and the other being the ideal state. 

Since marketing should be the antenna for the organization — gathering and interpreting the signals — we are in a better position to act as change agents. The business environment is always changing, and therefore, the company that can create, manage and master change has the greatest potential to thrive. Being a change agent means more than just coming up with a brilliant idea — it is about bringing the idea to life and engaging the rest of the organization. Creating, managing and mastering change is a skill. The skills we have in marketing to connect and engage with external customers and prospects are the same skills we need to connect with and engage people within the organization. That’s what gives marketers an advantage as change agents. The steps we use to impact and drive change externally also enable marketing to impact and drive change internally. 

These vital steps are: 

1. Link change explicitly and tightly to real performance outcomes. Change is not for the sake of change; change should improve business performance. The result of change should be concrete, specific, quantifiable, business outcomes. 

2. Develop concrete initiatives that support the outcomes and focus on what it will take for these initiatives to affect the organization’s operation in a positive way. 

3. Include the human dimension in your calculations. People do what people do. They embrace, they resist, they obstruct, and  they rise to the occasion. Listen closely. People dodge drafts. Find ways to enroll people into the process.  

4. Develop and market the message. When we sell to different market groups, we develop appropriate campaigns. Employ this approach inside. Segment your internal markets and tailor the message accordingly. Leverage both the informal and formal networks. 

5. Disruption is an important part of the process. Being a change agent means you’re going to discomfit people around you. You’re going to interrupt the “way we do things.” As change agents you must be able to step outside of your own comfort zone if you want to take people outside of theirs. Key to being a change agent is producing and keeping a healthy tension alive in the organization. 

Here’s an important point to remember about being a change agent — the first person who must change is you. A change agent models the way. We must live the vision we see and the behavior it requires if we want others to do so. The rest of the team will be watching us. We must develop the skills and techniques to change how we work if we’re going to help others acquire the skills and techniques to change how they work. Being on the front line enables us to capture, manage, and synthesize market and customer data sooner and faster. As a result we are ideally situated to use analytics, metrics, and process to act as organizational change agents. 

Analytics: The Essential Ace in Every Hand

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None of us would agree to play a card game with cards missing from the deck; we would know that the odds of winning would be significantly diminished. Yet surprisingly, many marketers are willing to implement marketing programs sans analytics.

In the past few weeks I have attended several marketing conferences. At each event, marketers are talking enthusiastically about how to make Web sites, SEO, social media, email campaigns, and mobile better. However, there is very little conversation about how to be smarter. Analytics is an essential card — actually an ace — in every marketer’s deck for enabling fact-based decisions and improving performance, and most importantly, for being smarter.

While the ace alone has value, when played with other cards its power is truly revealed. And when it comes to analytics, the other card is data. Yes — we have all heard the common complaint about the elusiveness of quality data. Unfortunately, data quality has been an issue in organizations for so long that it has now become the ready excuse for why marketers cannot perform analytics. To harness the power of your analytics card, identify your data issues and create a plan to address them.

Another reason that you may overlook this missing card in your deck is that guessing or gut instinct has been working well enough. Unfortunately, this approach may not suffice in the long-term and your “luck” may run out as organizations push to make “smart” decisions. As marketers, analytics is our opportunity to actively contribute to fact-based decisions. Through analytics, marketers achieve new insights about customers, markets, products, channels, and marketing strategy, programs and mix. It also enables marketing to help improve performance, competitiveness, and market and revenue growth.

As the importance of analytics gains momentum, marketers with analytical acumen will be in great demand. According to some resources, the complexities of data analysis and management are becoming so enormous that there is a shortage of people who are able to conduct analysis and present the results as actionable information. Taking the initiative and honing your analytical capabilities will enable you to make sure you have this ace in the deck — and preferably, in your hand.

Most of us are already working with a time and resource deficit. Try to find a way each quarter to bolster you analytical skills. Attend a conference, read a book, take a class, and bring in experts you can learn from. Here are some key analytical concepts and skills to add:

· Quantitative Decision Analysis
· Data Management
· Data Modeling
· Industry and Competitive Analysis
· Statistical Analysis
· Predictive Analytics and Models
· Marketing Measurement and Dashboard

If you can build your analytics strength, you’ll always have an ace in your pocket.

Tackling the “Too Hard To” Pile of Marketing Accountability

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If you’re like us, you probably have one of those piles on your desk that keeps being moved from one corner to another. You know that pile you need to get to but avoid because it will take some real effort to tackle. For many marketing professionals, marketing accountability, analytics and ROI are in this pile. Not too long ago at a marketing conference where Laura was speaking, the organizers had set up round tables with specific topics for discussion over breakfast. Laura was sitting at the measuring marketing ROI (return on investment) table (of course, where else would I be sitting?) which was strategically located right next to the buffet line.vem cluttered desk While she was sitting there waiting for people to join her, she kept hearing people say, “Oh measuring marketing,that’s just too hard.” There were hundreds of marketers attending this conference, and about 2 dozen tables of 10 were set to accommodate the early risers. Yet only four other brave souls joined her.

We must stop avoiding this topic and tackle the pile. As Sylvia Reynolds the CMO of Wells Fargo says, “Marketing must be a driver of tangible business results…we must start with the goal in mind and a clear way to measure that goal.” ROI is important for accountability–besides being able to justify spending and enable us to run the marketing organization more effectively and efficiently, knowing what is and isn’t working helps marketing achieve greater influence and serve in a more strategic role. Various surveys suggest that over a third and as much as 42% of marketing budgets are not adequate enough to achieve the outcomes and impact expected.

Perhaps your organization like many others is in the thick of budget planning. A key part of budget planning is to establish and validate the money you plan to spend. The more aligned marketing is with the outcomes of the organization and the more the plan includes performance targets and metrics, the more likely you will be allocated the budget you need to achieve the expected results.

So what does it take to tackle this Marketing Accountability pile? Here are six affordable steps any marketing organization can take to start whittling away at the marketing accountability and measurement pile.

1. Focus. Nothing of importance miraculously gets done on its own. vem focusTo effectively tackle the marketing measurement pile will take all of Covey’s seven habits: from taking a proactive approach and beginning with the end in mind, that is the outcomes you are expected to impact, to keeping the effort a priority when other things present themselves as urgencies to making marketing measurement a win/win for you, your team, and the rest of the organization. More than likely, you are going to need a cross-functional team to tackle this pile – people from finance, sales, IT, operations, etc. working collaboratively together to define the metrics and hunt down and organize the data.

2. Plan an attack. You know that age old question, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer being, “One bite at a time.” This is true for the marketing accountability and ROI question. If this is a new effort for you, you need to break it into manageable pieces. Quantify your objectives, decide how you will measure them, collect the data that you need to meet the objectives, establish a baseline, gain commitment to the measurement plan, and finally, measure.

3. Get data: “Data is the new creative,” declares Stephan Chase of Marriott Rewards. Establishing metrics, determining effectiveness, understanding efficiencies, all take data. Without data you cannot monitor and measure results. And don’t assume that you have the data that you need to measure your objectives. For example, if you want to measure how many new customers you interest in a new product, you may find that you need first to determine what a “new” customer is. This may require different views of your existing customer records or new strategies for evaluating.

4. Analyze: Once you have the data, the challenge is to generate insights that facilitate fact based decision making. One of the most valuable applications of data and analytics is in leveraging your metrics. The metrics are what enable continuous improvement as you strive to achieve and set new performance standards. Just looking at numbers doesn’t tell you as much as evaluating trends or creating statistical models that help you identify an optimized approach to your marketing efforts. Consider looking at your measurements for what isn’t immediately obvious such as what might have happened if that campaign had gone to the three bottom deciles of customers?

5. Use a systematized process: You may need to set up systems and processes that enable you to capture and track results on an ongoing basis. Many organizations put a substantial amount of energy into initiating these programs and then let them fizzle as other priorities surface. It takes both process and discipline to sustain a measurement effort. Systems help you automate a process so that the process can become a manageable part of your day-to-day operations. Today every marketing organization is moving at a breathless pace. Implementing test and control environment can keep you from having a fatal, head on collision

6. Train. Many marketers are unaccustomed to living in a metrics-based environment. You may need to invest in measurement, analytics, as well as data training and skills development. Start by taking a skills inventory. Find out who in the organization has data management, analytics and measurement skills.vem train Decide what skills they need to perform at your expected levels. Develop training that fills the skill gaps. Doing this in-house allows you to tailor to your needs, but consider courses from universities, associations and external consultants to fill out your requirements.

Moving marketing performance metrics from the “too hard to” pile to the “we can do it” pile can reap rewards for the entire organization.

For more information on Marketing Alignment and Accountability, download our Free White Paper: Charting a Course for Marketing Effectiveness: Alignment & Accountability

Power Up Your Marketing to Prove Business Value

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Numerous studies throughout 2012 reiterated just how challenged marketers are in proving
Marketing’s business value.

The Capsicum Report found that “Marketers lack commercial acumen and don’t speak the language of the business, reporting their contributions in terms of ‘activities’ or ‘outputs’ rather than the business key performance indicators.”

The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that “the CMO’s traditional dilemma of demonstrating effectiveness, return on marketing investment, and relevance to the business still persists.”

The Forrester Evolved CMO study stated that “to prove their value and justify investment, they (CMOs) must tie marketing closer to business results.”

The 11th annual marketing performance management study conducted by VisionEdge Marketing and ITSMA reported a continuing trend of the C-Suite’s perception that only about 25% of marketers are able to demonstrate their impact and contribution to the business.

Some marketers, though, are cracking the code, and we can learn lessons from them as we work to power up our marketing.

One of the key differences about the stellar performers is that these marketers view and present themselves as businesspeople first. This elite group is customer-centric above all else, and it’s driven to transforming or establishing Marketing as a center of excellence within the organization.

These marketers work at ensuring that Marketing focuses on producing results that matter to the business, particularly in customer acquisition, retention, and value, and they are able to communicate those contributions in ways that are relevant to the C-Suite.

These marketers consistently apply five best-practices:

1. Aligning marketing activities and investments with business outcomes

2. Developing outcome-based metrics and reporting capabilities to demonstrate their
accountability

3. Employing and developing analytical skills

4. Investing in the infrastructure, processes, and systems to support their work

5. Building collaborative alliances with Finance, IT, and Sales colleagues.

They also recognize that deploying those best-practices is only part of the equation for boosting their performance and measurement competencies. They realize that playing a more strategic role takes added muscle, which they build by…

  • Embracing strong talent, balancing creativity with science derived from valuable customer and market insights
  • Emphasizing innovation for all aspects of marketing—related to strategy, implementation, processes, and so on.

Every organization can benefit from adding such power and muscle to their marketing team:

Image

Take a look at  the most recent 2013 Marketing Performance Management Report: Executive Summary (FREE DOWNLOAD) or Purchase the Full Report at the VisionEdge Marketing Online Store!

Does Your Marketing Team Have the Right Stuff?

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The 
Right 
Stuff,
 a
 1979 
book 
by 
Tom
 Wolfe, 
chronicled 
the 
sequence
 of 
events 
bridging 
the 
breaking 
of
 the
 sound
barrier 
and 
the 
Mercury 
space
 expeditions.
 The 
book 
(and 
subsequent
 movie)
 explored
 why
 the 
Mercury 
astronauts
 accepted 
the
 danger
 of
 space
flight,
 as 
well
 as 
the 
mental
 and 
physical 
skills
 required 
of 
them 
to 
do 
their 
job—in 
other 
words,
 the 
”right 
stuff.”Image

Recent 
studies 
suggest
 the 
need 
for 
many 
marketing 
professionals to
 re‐skill
 and 
re-tool.
 Only 
about 
5
 percent 
of 
marketers 
surveyed 
in 
a 
recent 
CMO 
Council 
study 
are 
highly
 satisfied 
with
 their 
levels 
of
 accountability, 
operational
 visibility,
 and 
marketing 
output. 
Most 
see 
plenty
 of 
room 
for 
improvement.

So what skills
 and 
tools
 are 
needed for 
your 
organization 
to 
have 
the 
right stuff?

Regardless
 of 
company 
size 
and 
industry, marketing 
teams 
(whether
 a 
team
 of
 one
 or 
more) 
are under 
increased
 pressure 
to
 drive 
top‐line
 growth 
and
 profitable 
revenue. 
For 
many
 organizations
 this
 means 
acquiring new
 skills 
related
 to 
marketing
 performance 
measurement
 and 
management,
 analytics, 
benchmarking,
 and
 customer
 engagement. 
 Let’s review 
these 
four 
specific
 skills
 every
 marketer
 should 
have 
under 
their 
belt:

• 
Metrics
 and 
performance 
target‐setting. With
 greater
 demand
 for
 marketing 
to 
be 
more
 accountable,
 solid 
metrics, 
performance 
target‐setting,
 measurement,
 and 
reporting skills  
are
 crucial.
 Participants 
in 
numerous
 studies 
comment
 on 
the 
importance 
of
 being 
able 
to 
set
 measurable 
goals
 and 
track 
results. 
These
 skills
 will 
be 
in 
vogue 
for 
a 
long 
time 
to
 come.

•
 Analytics.
This 
is 
the 
ability 
to 
derive 
insights 
from 
data. 
If
 growing 
valuable 
customer relationships
 and 
being
 able 
to 
forecast
 sales 
from 
future
 marketing
 activities 
are 
important,
 then 
analytics 
ought 
to 
be 
on 
the 
top
 of 
your 
skills‐to‐acquired 
list.

•
 Benchmarking.
This 
is 
the 
process
 of
 comparing 
what
 your
 company 
does 
to
 another 
that
 is 
widely 
considered
 to 
be
 an 
industry 
standard 
or 
best 
practice. 
The aforementioned
 CMO 
Council
 study 
indicated
 58
 percent 
of 
respondents 
have 
nominal 
or no 
benchmarking 
capabilities. 
If 
you 
don’t 
know 
what
 the
 standard 
is,
 how 
will 
you 
know 
what
 to 
strive 
for 
when 
it 
comes 
to
 such 
things 
as
 win/loss 
ratios, marketing 
key performance 
indicators,
share
 of 
preference,
 product
 adoption 
rates, and 
so
 on?
 Benchmarks
 are 
essential 
to
 any organization 
that
 believes 
continuous 
improvement
 is
 critical 
to 
the 
pursuit 
of excellence.

•
 Customer 
experience 
management. 
If 
business 
exists 
to 
produce 
and
 serve 
a
 customer,
 and 
marketing’s 
job 
is 
to 
create,
 communicate, and
 deliver 
value 
to 
customers, 
then
 marketing 
is
 your
 organization’s 
ultimate 
steward 
of
 the 
customer
 experience.
 Marketers 
need 
to 
be
 sure 
they 
have 
the
 skills 
necessary 
to 
improve 
customer
 engagement
 and
 touch-
point 
effectiveness. 
They
 also 
must respond 
to 
changes in 
the 
buying
 cycle
 and
 conduct
 voice‐of‐customer 
research in
 order 
to 
retain
 customers, 
create 
loyalty,
 and 
transform 
customers 
into
 advocates 
for the
 company.

Marketing 
operations 
refers 
to 
infrastructure — that 
is,
 the 
tools, 
systems, 
and
 processes in 
place 
to 
facilitate 
customer‐centricity.
 Forty‐four
 percent
 of
 the
 respondents in the CMO 
Council
 study 
are looking 
for 
way 
to 
lower
 costs 
and 
improve 
go‐to‐market 
efficiencies. 
For
 many 
organizations,
 achieving these 
operational
 efficiencies 
requires 
infrastructure changes 
and 
improvements.

With 
limited 
resources, 
where 
can
 you 
get the 
best
 bang
 for 
your
 buck?
 Here
 are 
four
 areas
 for 
investment 
consideration:

1. Operational
 process 
alignment.
 When 
was 
the 
last 
time
 you 
mapped 
your 
operational 
processes 
and 
verified 
marketing 
alignment
 with 
the
 sales,
 product,
 service,
 and
 other 
parts
 of
 the
 business?
 All 
of
 us 
get 
into 
routines 
and 
habits.
 Reviewing 
processes 
and
 updating 
them 
may 
be 
time consuming, 
but 
if
 you 
are 
looking 
for
 ways 
to
 reduce 
inefficiencies 
internally, 
this 
is a
 necessary step.

Many
 years 
ago,
 when 
I
 was 
in 
the
 semiconductor 
industry,
 we
 needed 
to 
find
 a 
way 
to 
reduce 
the 
time 
from 
order 
to 
delivery
 of
 product.
 It
 was 
just 
taking 
too 
long 
to 
get
 product 
to 
customers,
and
 we
 didn’t
 know 
why.
 When 
we calculated 
the 
time 
it 
took 
for
 the 
individual
 steps 
of
 order 
placement, 
manufacturing,
 testing ,
assembly, 
and
 shipping, 
the 
time 
didn’t
 add 
up 
to 
what 
it
 actually 
took.

So
 we 
mapped
 the 
process, 
counting 
the 
time 
product
 was 
”in‐transit,”
 whether 
physically 
or 
in
 some
 other 
way.
 Lo
 and 
behold, 
the 
in‐transit
 time
 was 
off
 the 
charts.
 The
 mapping 
process 
enabled 
us 
to 
identify 
the 
inefficiencies,
 label the white spaces,
and 
put 
in 
new
 processes 
to 
reduce
 and
 even 
eliminate 
them.

2.Market/Business 
intelligence. 
There 
is 
an 
art
 and
 science 
to 
using 
external 
information 
for 
driving 
business 
strategy. 
Business 
intelligence 
applications 
enable 
the
 collection,
 integration,
 analysis, 
and
 presentation
 of
 competitive,
 channel, 
product,
 and 
customer 
information 
to 
derive 
trends 
and 
insights.
 The 
value
 of
 having
 such 
a 
tool 
is 
that, 
when 
used 
properly, it
 enables 
you 
to 
begin 
conducting
 scenario 
analyses
 and
 anticipating 
the
 future.
 With 
the 
insights
 derived
 from 
business 
intelligence,
 there 
is 
the
 potential 
to 
anticipate 
the 
development 
of
 new
 markets, technological
 turning 
points,
 and 
how 
the 
competitor 
will react.

3. CRM. 
If 
the 
marketing
 organization 
is 
responsible 
for 
the 
relationship 
between 
the
company 
and
 the 
customer,
 then 
it
 stands 
to 
reason 
the 
organization
 needs 
tools 
to 
facilitate 
this 
relationship.
 As 
you 
know, 
there 
are 
a
 range
 of
 CRM 
tools
 out
 there,
 so 
selecting
 the 
right
 one
 can 
be 
a
 daunting 
task.
 Even
 so,
 in 
today’s 
environment
 a
 company
 can’t
 afford
 to 
operate
 without 
a
 formal
 approach
 to
 customer
 relationship 
management.
 Of
 course,
 once
 you 
have 
the 
tool
, the
 next
 biggest
 hurdle 
is 
using 
it.

4.
 Performance 
management.
 The 
ability 
to 
use 
analytics, 
reporting, 
and
 dashboards 
to 
assess
 marketing’s
 effectiveness, efficiency, 
financial
 contribution,
 and
 progress 
toward
 achieving 
pre-determined
 goals 
is 
performance 
management. 
In 
the 
end, 
marketing
 must
 demonstrate 
its
 value, 
which 
lies 
in
 how much you are “moving 
the 
needle.” This 
necessitates 
reporting
 on
 performance, impact, 
and
 ROI from
 the
 program 
level 
up.

Progress 
doesn’t
 come 
without
 missteps,
 misfires,
 and failures.
 Winners 
look 
for
 ways to overcome
 challenges
 and
 continuously 
improve.
 They
 seek
 outside 
help,
 new 
ideas,
 and new 
skills.
 While
 attending 
a
 Webinar,
 reading 
a 
book, 
or
 going 
to
 a
 conference 
helps, consider 
looking
 for
 ways 
that
 will
 enable 
the 
whole 
team 
to 
be 
on 
the 
same 
page
 at the
 same
 time. 
There are 
plenty 
of 
on-site
 and 
online 
programs
 offered 
by 
professional
 organizations 
and 
institutions, as 
well
 as
 by 
firms 
specializing 
in these 
areas.

In 
Wolfe’s 
story, 
the 
national 
heroes 
of 
the 
Mercury 
space 
program 
were 
not
 necessarily 
the 
truest 
and
 best. 
What 
they
 possessed
 was 
the 
right
 stuff, the
 skill
 and 
courage 
to 
”push 
the
 outside 
of
 the
 envelope.”
 Does 
your
 marketing 
team
 have 
the 
right 
stuff?

Embracing Sustainability to Boost Sales

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Sustainability. Green. Environmentally-friendly. However we refer to it, it is top of mind.Sustainability is about how your company and its products are affecting, and trying to achieve balance within the economic, social and environmental systems. This isn’t just an issue for the “big” companies. Regardless of size, every company and its leadership team needs to be exploring what green and sustainability means for the company and its products. Because strategic planning incorporates opportunity identification, risk management, talent development, and financial strategies, all of which fall within the domain of the C-suite, sustainability which affects all of these should be the concern of the company’s leadership team. Practical green and sustainable solutions can help reduce risk, meet compliance, and create market opportunities.

There are many ways for a company to integrate green into their strategic plan.Image For example in October of 2007, P&G announced a corporate strategy around three goals: developing and marketing $20 billion in sustainable innovation products; improving the environmental footprint in operations; and the social sustainability area of increasing the number of children in need that they reach. Fast forward 6 years-the results? $52 billion in sustainable product sales as of 2012, a 68% reduction of waste disposed, and over 400 million children helped that were in need.

Goals are good, but implementation is where the rubber meets the road. So how did they accomplish surpass their goals set in 2007? P&G has a VP of Global Sustainability responsible for operationalizing each of these goals. Companies have found that this issue
is important enough to appoint someone as a champion of their sustainability initiative.

Green encompasses many factors. These factors can range from developing and manufacturing new green products, to looking at ways to make existing products more “green” by reducing their carbon footprint whether that’s in terms of the raw materials they source, the suppliers they use, how the product is packaged, the energy the company uses during production to the types of lights in the office. Whatever your approach, as you explore your company’s route to sustainability you should also discuss marketing the “green” aspects of your company to your customers

While being green is quite appealing, the journey takes time, investments, resources and commitment. You will want to establish performance targets and success metrics to help monitor the return on this investment. Is it worth the investment? The research suggests that it is. Sustainability is beginning to impact a company’s reputation. According to the firm, Conscientious Innovation, more than 70% of consumers link social responsibility to a company’s environmental behavior. Given the trend, sustainability in all its forms is becoming a necessary part of the way a successful company does business. And a recent study by Forrester revealed that 63% of US adults claim that they are concerned about the environment as a whole, and these concerns translate into spending changes. As this trend continues it will be important for every company to have a green marketing strategy designed to boost sales and increase loyalty. These two metrics – sales and loyalty – should be used to determine the success of your efforts and the return on your investment.

To get started you will want to create a roadmap to “sustainability” that identifies the strategies and tactics you will deploy.This roadmap should be integrated into your strategic, operational, and marketing plans. It might help to provide some examples of companies who have already embarked on the journey and what they are doing.

Steps every company can take:

1. Establish a Chief Sustainability Officer or a similar position to head your effort. For Mitsubishi, this is their President and CEO, Ken Kobayashi. When the CEO is the Chief Sustainability Officer, it signals the important of environmental and green considerations within the company. At P&G, Len Sauers serves as the Vice President of Global Sustainability.

2. Create a cross-functional team. Herman Miller has what they call an Environmental Quality Action Team (EQAT) which is composed on employees from across the company who address all the multiple components of the green strategy.

3. Assess your carbon footprint. The first thing the team should do is assess your current carbon footprint. The carbon footprint is a way to measure the impact your organization’s activities on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced. Every aspect of your carbon footprint needs to be inventoried from activities having to do with how the company uses energy or the quality of your customer database in order to reduce direct mail waste. For example, Gwen Migita, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility recently reported that at Harrah’s Entertainment, which operates 51 casinos worldwide, and significantly leverages direct-mail after a substantial database cleaning efforts was able to cut its mailings to the 40 million customers in its database, saving the company $3.5 million. Often one of easiest ways to start down the sustainability path is by focusing on how to reduce your environmental impact from the extraction of raw materials, the production of goods, the use of those goods and management of the resulting wastes.

4. Develop new opportunities: Reducing your carbon footprint is one side of the equation the other is developing new initiatives. These new initiatives can take the form of new products, which is what Home Depot is doing around their Eco Options products or be in the form of take back programs where companies will for example take toxic chemicals back. If new initiatives are not something you can tackle solo, consider looking for a partner or making an acquisition, which is what Clorox did by buying Burt’s Bees.

5. Integrate your strategy into your business. The best way to approach green is to look for ways to integrate it into what you already do. For example, Armstrong International, Inc., is looking a number of ways to modify what they do today. This includes exploring how to return hot condensate to be reused, installing double-pane windows and low-fluorescent lighting, using gas fired hot water heaters to heat their buildings, monitoring air quality in the welding area, reducing trash by 10 percent annually, increasing the amount of recycling, eliminating the use of Styrofoam cups, reducing storm/sewer water discharge, and saving carbon dioxide by replacing travel with videoconferencing.

6. Develop a Plan: The carbon footprint reduction is a good measure of progress but the ultimate goal is to have these investments result in cost savings and revenue growth. Trying to tackle everything can quickly become overwhelming. Apply the concept of Pareto analysis in your decision making. Select a limited number of things you can address that will produce the most significant overall effect – things that will increase sales, garner more customer and employee loyalty and the right return on investment. Develop the plan to address these items and how you are going to:

A) Communicate this plan and status internally.

B) Communicate this plan and your achievements to customers, prospects and other external stakeholders.

C) Measure and report on results.

This means your sustainability officer and the company’s marketing leadership will need to join forces. While the sustainability officer/department may be looking into the processes, practices and products that enable the company to become “more green” and manages the technical expertise; it is the marketing organization that is responsible for building and communicating the strategy. Your marketing organization needs to communicate how the end-user can be environmentally sustainable through the use of your products as well as the company’s progress with its sustainability initiatives.

7. Establish a company culture and align the business plan. All the best laid plans can go awry if the company’s business values and culture don’t support the effort. Part of the process will require you to set policy, implement changes, review successes and failures. Hold periodic sustainability milestone meetings to demonstrate your commitment, address issues, and measure progress. CEO Mike Duke of Wal-Mart takes this approach. Wal-Mart’s sustainability department runs lean with the focus on integrating sustainability into the overall business.

8. Measure and report results: Sustainability and green are new ways for a company to
demonstrate its social responsibility and serve as good community citizens. However, companies and organizations are in business to see a financial return. So where should you expect to see the results of your green investments and marketing initiatives? On the increase sales side your efforts should pay off in faster product adoption rates and an increase in the rate of growth in your category. And on the customer loyalty side of the equation, you should expect to see increases in share of wallet and referral rates. Using your performance today as your baseline, monitor the changes in these numbers as you ramp up your sustainability efforts and your promotion of these
efforts to track the degree of impact.

In summary, getting your customers to use your sustainable products to help them become more sustainable themselves achieves three key things. First, it boosts your sales and helps build stronger brand loyalty. And it helps your customers become more sustainable in return, creating a ripple effect making your efforts extend beyond just your company