The results from the marketing performance research recently conducted jointly by ITSMA and VisionEdge Marketing (VEM), and Forrester were just announced. In its 12th year, the purpose of this study has been to understand how proficient marketers are at measuring and managing performance; using metrics, data, and analytics; and communicating marketing’s value, impact and contribution to the business. This year’s study captured input from more than 400 respondents. The study revealed areas in which marketers have made strides and areas where marketers remain challenged.
The result I found most perplexing was that, while marketers have access to more data than ever, leverage more analytics, and invest in more tools and systems, they continue to struggle to prove marketing’s contribution to the business. One clear indicator of this is that just 9% of CEOs and 6% of CFOs use marketing data to help make strategic decisions. Less than 10%! Although the majority of the marketers regularly produce and share a marketing dashboard, they are not bringing valuable, useful information to the table.
So where’s the disconnect? If you want your leadership team to understand how marketing is moving the needle in terms of top line revenue, market share, customer value, category ownership, and so on then the dashboard needs to be able to tell that story. Unfortunately, it appears that most marketers participating in the study use their marketing automation (MAP) or sales automation (CRM) systems to create their dashboards. In fact, dashboards and reports are already integrated into many of these systems. These dashboards, however, typically report on marketing activity and associated costs – email activity, website activity, social media activity, lead activity- rather than reporting on metrics executives can to set direction. It’s not that these reports and dashboards are bad; they are valuable when used to support tactical decisions, but if you want your CEO, CFO and other members of the C-Suite to use your dashboard it must clearly connect marketing investments and initiatives to business outcomes and results.
The ability to push a button and generate a pretty report that doesn’t add any value to the strategic decisions made at the C-Suite level doesn’t serve marketing well. To be on the right track, you need to start by making sure the marketing initiatives and investments are clearly aligned to business outcomes and that you have the right metrics in place. Otherwise, investing in better marketing tools is akin to buying a power saw when you have yet to master a hand saw. You have the ability to do more damage faster.
Learn more about the survey results and some initial impressions at:
At a recent conference, Sylvia Reynolds, chief marketing officer for Wells Fargo, asked, “When did Marketing become the make-it-pretty department?” Reynolds then reminded conference participants that the fundamental role of Marketing has always been about the customer.
Essentially, Marketing’s role is to find, keep, and grow the value of customers. So what does that mean, and how does a marketer get beyond the “make it pretty” syndrome?
We can use the American Marketing Association’s (AMA) definition of marketing as a guide. The AMA defines marketing as “an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.”
By using this definition, we can see that marketing is more than a creative function; rather, it is about a set of four critical customer-focused marketing processes.
Marketing sits in the space between the company’s capabilities and what the customer wants. By understanding the core capabilities of the company, and then matching it with customer wants and needs, marketing drives value creation.
This means Marketing must fully understand the customer. In this capacity, the marketing organization serves as a driver of an organization’s value chain by insuring products and services are shaped by customer expectations and demands.
To be the chosen supplier for your customer, you first have to be on your customer’s short list. To be on the customer’s short list, you need to know what the customer values. This way you can communicate how your company and its products/services deliver in such a way as to create a preference for your company and its products/services over alternative options.
Every customer touch point affects the customer’s decision and action; therefore, every touch point needs to be tied to and communicate the value proposition.
By establishing a strong link between customer value requirements and the major value- producing activities in the company, Marketing is in the unique position to enable the company to deliver on customers’ value expectations. Marketing can then use these value expectations to drive customer preference and stimulate purchase decisions.
One way to think of this is that at every customer touch point—whenever a customer will be affected by a decision or action—the people involved in that touch point need to understand and deliver on the value. In some organizations this is known as “moments of truth.”
Marketing is in the unique role of being able to look across all the touch points and monitor whether the value is actually delivered. Through constant monitoring, Marketing can help determine whether it is delivering on its value promise and whether the value proposition needs modification.
Managing Customer Relationships
We need to think beyond technology when we think of customer relationship management (CRM). Instead we need to realize that CRM is a business philosophy in which the customer plays a central, critical role in all business activities.
Though we can debate who “owns” the customer, Marketing is in the ideal position to be the centralized point for aggregating, segmenting, and analyzing customer data. This ability to create a single view of the customer comes with responsibility—to take a leadership role in creating and managing the processes associated with the company’s customer relationships.
For organizations to grow, the leadership team relies on Marketing for more “than just the pretty stuff.” It should be able to depend on Marketing to develop marketing strategies that create and deliver superior perceived customer value.
With this emphasis on increasing value, Marketing can help the firm achieve growth by penetrating existing segments, developing new markets, and creating new products and services.
Accordingly, marketers should be willing to own and be accountable for these four processes if they want to serve as growth champions within their organization and leave the “make it pretty” syndrome behind.