The Illusive Marketing Engine

#1 Reason why marketing is not at the C-table

Marketing receives little respect because all too often it is seen as a money pit. Money goes in, and nobody knows what comes out. Marketing is quickly dismissed as an after-thought. This hurts. Marketing is a strategic play by design and deserves to be in the business development discussion. So why isn’t it?

Because, traditionally, creative people (marketers) are not rooted in science. To add to that, marketing is an art. Its beauty is in the eye of the customer. How do you define beauty? If I had a crystal ball I’d tell you, but, ultimately, it boils down to an opinion. A marketing win is when you can get more people to like your art than already like or know your company. A big win is when a lot more people like your art than like or know your company. Not real deep, I know, but it comes down to simple math. Yes, marketing, while inherently creative, can be run similar to a precise engine.

Until you know the value of what you’re doing, you’re simply throwing darts blindfolded.

There is worth in knowing the metrics of marketing and managing marketing results.

The Marketing Engine

Fundamentally, the marketing engine is a simple concept.

The activities of marketing are the inputs of the engine. Activities such as digital marketing, SEO, PPC, advertising, public relations, lead generation, events, sponsorships, etc. drive the workings of the engine. The guts of the engine are the tools available to marketers to do and measure their job such as phone tracking, analytics, forms, automation, CRMs, surveys, research, testing, etc. The combination of marketing activities and tools work to produce a single result. This is not to say that marketing only produces one result, but rather that each result marketing produces should be based on a defined set of inputs and tools.

However, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Mathematically, determining how much people like your art is challenging, but not impossible. As my father always said, “marketing’s job is to find out how much money you have in your wallet. Sale’s job is to take it from you.”

How to make it happen?

Let’s be realistic. I can’t explain that in a blog, but I recommend working backwards through four milestones:

  1. Define an output. Start with one and build from there. Typically, I would start with one that directly affects the bottom-line.
  2. Align marketing and sales. Be sure the output is a delivery that sales can act upon. Work to make clear what that looks like. See my article about lead quality.
  3. Identify tools. Pick the tools that will measure your outcome. Know your limitations and know the tools available.
  4. Guess. Yes, there is guess work in marketing. Guess what activities will produce the greatest quantity of output and tweak as necessary.

What does it look like when it’s working?

Input Cost $X = Output $X + %$X

Nirvana, Euphoria, Intense Joy, what else can I say. When it works, you will look and be a marketing genius. When it’s working the defined inputs will deliver a defined output. Your inputs will cost “X” and your output will produce “X+$.” When marketing can turn to executives and exclaim that for every dollar spent a dollar plus “x” is returned, only then will you be taken seriously. Interestingly enough, your return might be dollar spent minus “x”. Don’t be dismayed! The engine is more important than the result at first. Once the engine is built, the hard part is done. Now, it’s simply adjusting the inputs (all the marketing stuff) until a positive is returned. Typically, once you have that engine producing a slim positive percent return, all it takes is shifting it into second gear.

*Note* It doesn’t have to be $ returned. Some marketing departments deliver outputs of different types. I leave that variable up to you to determine, but the foundational math is the same. Generally, business strategy is rooted in the bottom line and until your marketing department gets on-board with that, your department probably won’t be at the dinner table.

Quick Take-Aways

  • Marketing is too important to throw money at without tracking results
  • Marketing, while inherently creative, needs to be rooted in reality & business strategy
  • Marketing will never be a strategic player until metrics tie it to business success

Additional Study

-Marketing Metrics: 50+ Metrics Every Executive Should Master, Paul W. Farris
– Measuring Marketing, John Davis
– Marketing ROI: Measuring & Maximizing Campaign Results, Lloyd E. Corder

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