Original insights in international business and marketing
I keep being drawn back to the Fournaise Group’s 2011 survey of 600 CEOs that showed a very bleak perception of Marketing’s value. While you may have issues with the survey design or the selection of respondents, even if the real world numbers are only half as bad as suggested, the picture is still very grim.
Taking the survey results at face-value, it would seem that almost three quarters of CEOs are disenchanted with Marketing’s contribution to the bottom line. Marketers appear to have ‘lost the plot.’ Like Narcissus, many have fallen in love with their own reflection.
All the attention on branding and brand equity seems to have created a rift between Marketing and the rest of the organization. CEOs are starting to think that Marketers have veered too far off track with their focus on image, creativity, trend following and other activities with intangible benefits. Perhaps many CEOs fail to grasp the more subtle role of Marketing and the intrinsic value of creating brand awareness & equity? Hard to say.
The point here, however, is that for its own sake – indeed, for its own survival – Marketing needs to return to a more practical and pragmatic model and approach. Rarely has marketing consistently tracked and demonstrated it’s contribution to the bottom line.
This is what CEOs are crying out for. To keep funding Marketing, they are asking for more tangible outputs and metrics that tie in directly with improved sales and margins. Marketers need to heed this message and trade the creative, feel good, looks nice, “fluffy stuff” for more concrete deliverables. Focus needs to return to metrics like: number of leads generated, conversion rates, margins, incremental sales, P&L, cost savings, purchase intent, etc… Unless you are in the Luxury/premium business (and even then), the pendulum needs to swing away from pure intangible image creation back towards a more middle ground with bullet-proof results.
Tomorrow’s marketing needs to be original, impactful and measurable. To achieve this, marketers need to agree with senior management on the metrics by which their performance (existence?) and budgets will be based. Therefore, they need to review all projects, even the sacred cows, and all consulting/agency/contract engagements to either cancel/delay them or tie them in directly to the agreed-upon ROI metrics. Notoriously difficult-to-measure activities like PR and trade shows may suffer as a consequence or be significantly cut back. But that’s OK. It may be the price to pay for Marketing to claw it’s way back in the esteem of CEOs and regain the clout and respect it has lost over the years.