Marketing...It's About the Numbers
Jun 21, 2016
Somehow marketing has come to mean nothing but “marketing communications” and “content marketing” in this digital world we live in. How that happened, I don’t know. But marketing is so much more and the bottom line is that it’s about the NUMBERS; the only ones that count…revenue and profits.
I’ve been a marketing professional for decades, and in that time there have been a lot of changes in marketing. I won’t comment on whether those changes have been good or bad, but one thing that has not changed in decades or even centuries is that “Marketing is about the numbers.” The real numbers, the meaningful numbers, the only numbers that mean anything to a business, the ones that tell you whether what you did today sold or helped sell something and most importantly make money. As marketers, we’re in business and we practice our trade to make money…which means generate revenue and profits.
It’s not about likes, thumbs up, gross rating points or any of the other airy fairy, engagement measurements that some of us in the marketing community use to justify our paychecks.
Are you 1 of the 80%?
“…80 percent of CEOs do not trust their CMOs or marketing teams to deliver results. Ninety percent of those same CEOs DO trust their IT and finance teams, or so claims a study by the Fournaise Group. Frankly, I’m surprised that the number isn’t higher. (http://goo.gl/sZNsfO) And, how does marketing build trust with the CEO (and sales organization); by producing promotions and content that attract and sell customers. And, can be proven to do so.
One of the reasons that many marketers are having a hard time justifying their existence to the executive suite is that they have forgotten or in many cases never learned that what we are here to do is sell stuff and what we do has to be accountable and measurable, and tied to revenue and profits.
And again, “accountable and measurable” is not Likes and Shares. It means sales or qualified leads that intend to buy. And by qualified leads, I mean someone that meets specific key criteria such as [ex] they have the budget to make the purchase and they have the authority to spend that budget for the purchase and they have a need that our products solve.
I think part of the problem stems from the so-called divide between sales and marketing, which doesn’t make any sense to me for two reasons. One, I started on the sales side. And two, my formal training in marketing taught me that promotions, which is part of marketing function includes advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, public relations and personal selling (a.k.a. sales). Sure personal selling requires different skills and maybe even different personalities, but it is still part of the marketing function.
And, because of this separation, a lot of marketing people have never received formal sales training, nor have they been trained to focus on numbers. And, worse yet, sales are something the “sales” organization is responsible for. To many, marketing has become this artistic, creative endeavor, having little or nothing to do with real numbers (revenue and profits). No, I don’t believe that copywriters or graphics designers (content creators) should be financial analysts or professionally trained salespeople, but they’d better know that what they are doing is about selling and that those numbers will be measured. I do, however, believe that marketing management better be focused on these numbers and be able to validate that all promotional and marketing communications activities contribute to the organization’s revenue and profit goals.
I haven’t a clue who decided to separate sales from marketing and treat them as separate disciplines. Sure managing a sales organization isn’t the same as managing a marketing (or marketing communications) department. I know, I’ve done both. But, they still have the same goal and that is to sell something and make money for the company.
Advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, public relations, and personal selling are all part of marketing promotions (which also includes “content marketing” if you’re in love with that term). Why did educators break out direct marketing as a unique function and discipline within marketing promotions; because, it is direct selling. And, when it comes to numbers, there is nothing more focused on numbers than direct marketing.
I don’t know where we as marketers got off the tracks, but marketing is about selling. And, as such, it’s about the numbers…revenue and profits. To build trust with the CEO and sales organization, marketing must focus on these numbers.
Another contributing factor is that marketing communications has become the de facto meaning of marketing.
Recently, I saw an article that asked the question, “What’s the future of marketing?” Well for one thing, the author was referring to marketing communications and media channels, so I wish he would have stated his question that way. But, he didn’t, which points out one of the obvious problems surrounding marketing today and that is that most marketing professionals and marketing communications professionals only focus on the promotional side of marketing and a narrow part of that as well.
Today we’re all focused on developing “content” to attract, entertain, and occasionally educate followers, etc. That’s fine for publishers who are really in the business of marketing (selling) “content.” But for the rest of us, we should have our focus on driving revenue and profits, and being able to measure the results of our efforts. For us “content” is marketing collateral. And, our goal should be to produce “content” that attracts, engages and sells or helps sell the prospect/customer.
All of you that think it’s about being creative, winning awards for advertisements and YouTube videos, or other content, please go elsewhere. Forget followers, fans, likes, shares, etc. It’s about the numbers. If you want to be creative, go make a movie, write a book, paint a picture, but as long as you’re in marketing communications (a.k.a. marketing), you’re in the business of creating content that attracts and motivates buyers and drives measurable results that are directly related to producing revenue and profits.
If we, as marketers, focus on these numbers, we will go a long way to rebuilding building trust with CEOs and sales organizations. After all, they are focused on revenue and profits. That’s how they get paid, as do we.
Dudley Stevenson, founder and CEO of DWS Associates, has over thirty-five years’ experience in consumer marketing, business-to-business marketing, and direct marketing, including developing, planning, and implementing go-to-market strategies. He's also the author of "Marketing Direct: Breaking Through The Clutter." Working with organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies, he and his team have helped clients such as IBM, Sony, Neiman Marcus, Arizona Highways, Marshall Field & Co., Mrs. Field’s, UNICEF, and Patagonia implement successful direct marketing programs. A longtime member of the Direct Marketing Association and the American Marketing Association, Stevenson is also a sought-after speaker. He’s given hundreds of presentations and workshops on marketing and direct marketing. His “Marketing Planning 101” workshop alone has reached more than 100,000 marketing and sales professionals.