Performance Marketing

Marketing performance should be judged by impact, not by look and feel. Most people would agree with this statement, yet marketing is too often judged primarily by how funny, cute, creative or slick it looks. Unfortunate, because that’s like measuring the effectiveness of a factory based on beautiful landscaping and a clean break room!  Your marketing efforts deserve more respect. I’d like to share 7 critical success factors for creating an environment that’s focused on improving real marketing performance. Here are the first 3 factors:

1. The right mindset. You must believe that marketing is strategically important to your organization’s success and that marketing performance can be improved with effort.  Organizations that consider marketing to be trivial, or a mysterious force that defies logic and reason, won’t be motivated to invest the time, effort or resources to get measurably better at it.

2. Measure the right stuff.  It’s not enough to measure marketing performance solely by sales revenue.  Revenue is a happy result, but it’s not a leading performance indicator.  A revenue increase doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting better at marketing. There are too many variables that drive revenue and a lot of them are completely out of the marketing manager’s control – at least in the short-term.

To improve at nearly anything, you have to study the controllable variables that drive results. Professional baseball teams don’t just track wins – they carefully measure progress in improving the controllable skills that CAUSE wins. Players and coaches know that if they can become better at controllable skills, like hitting, fielding and pitching, more wins will follow.   From a motivation standpoint, think of the difference between coaching players to become better hitters (specific and inspiring) vs. coaching the same players to become better game-winners (vague and frustrating).

Regardless of the organization, marketing performance boils down to doing 3 basic things well and efficiently: 1) turning potential buyers into prospects, 2) converting prospects into customers and 3) turning customers into advocates.  Measurably improving performance at doing one or more of these 3 things will certainly drive sales revenue.

3. Organize marketing activities into campaigns. Campaigns are to marketing what projects are to engineering and what budgets are to accounting. Campaigns organize marketing activities into manageable units with defined objectives, time frames and measurable impact. Nearly any marketing activity worth doing should be managed as a campaign so its impact can be evaluated and performance can be improved over time.  I’m sure you’ve witnessed the alternative – it’s a mish-mash of frenzied marketing activity with no time frame and no clue as to which activities are actually making an impact.

4. Make responsibility for improving performance personal.  Assign each marketing performance metric a formal owner – one person that will be ultimately accountable for its success, even if others contribute, as well.  Without clear ownership of performance metrics, marketing managers often begin measuring their performance by the length of their task lists – instead of results.

5. Make performance goals and results visible outside the marketing department.  Be bold and explicit about stating marketing’s goals and results.  Marketing objectives may not be as obvious as those of other departments, so make the extra effort to communicate them to the rest of the organization.  If a key performance goal is to achieve 80% brand awareness and the current state is 60% awareness, make sure the entire organization knows it!  How else can they help marketing grow the business?

6. Harness the competitive spirit.  Everyone in your organization needs to know exactly who your strategic competitors are and who’s winning.  To get folks excited, there’s nothing like looking the competition in the eye and squaring off.  The thrill of victory and the sting of defeat are very motivating, but neither are possible without defined adversaries and a visible scoreboard.

7. Measure behavior, not opinion.  Opinion is nice, but behavior is usually more accurate. Whenever possible, measure what customers and prospects DO, not what they SAY.  For example, instead of relying solely on surveys to measure satisfaction, track actual behaviors like product returns, repeat purchases or referrals.  Or, when gauging intent to purchase, use in-market tests, not surveys.  Looks for ways to creatively build behavior-based performance measurements into your marketing processes.

Really, these success factors probably apply to improving the performance of nearly any activity – not just marketing.  However, they are especially critical for marketing because so many organizations treat marketing like it is exempt from the disciplines that drive performance improvement. That fallacy leads to low-performance marketing.

Implementing these success factors will have longer-term, mutually-reinforcing benefits, too. Your organization will attract better marketing talent because high-performers generally WANT to have their performance measured and to be accountable for results.  Also, when marketing goals are understood and results are measured, the entire organization will be more likely to offer support to the marketing team.

Don’t settle for low-performance marketing!

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