Missing the Mark

One of the most memorable meetings I ever had during my tenure with the first software company I worked for was with my boss, the president of our division.  I remember walking into his office, and before I could sit down, he handed me a brochure and asked somewhat accusingly, “Did your team produce this?”  Luckily, I was able to answer, “No”, to which he replied, “Good, because if you had I was going to fire you.  This brochure is ugly and even if it wasn’t, it’s a waste of money because it’s not delivering leads or having an impact on revenue.”  With that the meeting was over.

Although I remember feeling great about not being fired, I also remember having a tremendous sense of affirmation because my boss and I were on the same page.  We both agreed that my job as the director of our marketing team was not about making pretty collateral pieces.  It was to focus on generating revenue!

Unfortunately, most marketers today are missing this point, and missing it by a long shot.  Consider these statistics that were recently published by the Fournaise Group:

• 73% of CEOs think Marketers lack business credibility and are not the business growth generators they should be.

• 77% of CEO’s are frustrated that their marketers keep on talking about brand, brand values, brand equity and other similar parameters that  management has difficulty linking back to results that really matter: revenue, sales, EBIT or even market valuation.

• 73% of CEO’s say that when they ask their marketing teams to increase their Marketing ROI, they tend to understand it as cost cutting through better economies of scale or negotiations with their third-party partners and agencies, instead of top-line growth generation (more revenue, more sales, more prospects, more buyers) – translation, most marketers don’t truly understand ROI and can’t track it.

• 72% of CEO’s state that marketing is always asking for more money, but can rarely explain how much incremental business this money will generate.

• 70% of CEO’s stated that marketers bombard their stakeholders with marketing data that hardly relate to or mean anything for the company’s P&L.

And the list goes on. In short, the majority of marketers are missing the mark. Despite their feelings that they are making an impact (69% think they do), without the numbers to prove it, management will not listen to them.

Within this dynamic, the common approach for marketers is to get defensive, explain the nuances of marketing, the science behind brand and to bemoan the fact that the rest of the organization does not get marketing.  But the problem is not with the rest of the organization. It’s with marketing!  If the rest of the organization is focused on revenue, then marketing should align its vision with theirs.

To that end here are 5 quick tips marketers can adopt do to begin shifting their focus to revenue:

1.  Make business decisions based on results
This means you must measure your outcomes.  If you are using your metrics simply to show opens, clicks and response rates, they you’re missing the point.  Add opportunity and sales outcomes to your metrics mix. Then, use that data to determine which marketing activity produces the best outcome and replicate it.

2.  Develop your processes
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know about our focus on lead management process.  This is a must. Putting in the proper process will enable you to align with sales, ultimately leading to an improved impact on revenue.  Lack of process leads to a lack of visibility and revenue left on the table.

3.  Think Like a Business
Like many C-level executives, my former boss was not interested in the “art” behind marketing.  He wanted qualified leads to be sent to sales. He wanted revenue.  His objectives became mine. This pushed me and my team to think about the business as a whole, which helped us from becoming sidetracked with the “marketing fluff”.

4. Determine What Your Customer Wants
Too many companies are marketing and selling in a way that bypasses the customer.  If you do not know your buyer you will have a hard time engaging with them and convincing them to spend their money on your product or service.  Get to know your buyer by studying them and listening to them.  This is a continual process that will help you adapt your marketing approach to regularly engage them.

5.  Commit and Compensate
If revenue is the goal (and it is), then marketers should be measured and compensated by it.  This scares most marketers to death, but it’s the way you will shift focus and behavior in the organization. Marketers need to step up and commit to quotas in terms of qualified leads and revenue contribution. Those quotas should be tied to a portion of the marketing teams’ compensation.

For years marketers have tried to make a case for their relevance within their companies.  Despite their best efforts, they have not been convincing.  The only way win over the doubters is for marketers to change their way of thinking.  In short, set your sights on revenue.  Marketers who focused on ROI delivered 24% incremental customer demand in 2010 and generated business growth for their organizations.  Stats like this will make marketing relevant.