“Is our marketing successful?”
An incredibly vague question but one you will have no doubt been asked as a marketing manager or executive. I know I have, and since a rookie mistake early on, I’ve learnt to always have something on hand, ready to share at a moments notice.
Let’s have a look at the various ways you can demonstrate and explain marketing successes to senior managers or indeed, anyone within your organisation.
Success is Only Possible When It’s Measured
Even when a marketing campaign or initiative seems successful, for example, you know for a fact it has generated leads, then it’s easy to feel complacent. It’s working, right? You can sit back and let the sales team do their job?
You can’t accurately and truthfully say something is a success unless you can prove it. And, the most powerful way to prove success is by measuring it.
This is especially important when you have money riding on success and often, marketing involves spending lots of money.
There can be a tendency to overcomplicate what measured success is in marketing – you can measure and analyse hundreds of touchpoints but when it comes down to it, the most important marketing successes are ones that underpin and affirm the purpose of marketing; to attract and retain customers.
Therefore, the most important success you can show a senior manager or the board is the overall success your department has. How many new enquires or sales do you bring in? (retention is more important in some businesses than others and as a result, may or may not be measured/reported on. That’s a whole other blog post though!)
In my experience, I’ve observed a grey area on reporting the area between sales and marketing, especially in SME’s – whose job is it to report the number of leads or sales? The ultimate goal your senior team are interested in.
I’ve worked with one business where sales reported the figures and another, where it kind of fell between the two and didn’t appear to marry up leaving both teams looking foolish or at least one of us wrong.
The success of lead generation belongs to marketing.
Those figures are the culmination of all your efforts, and as such, you should be the one to explain them and, take the glory!
Feeding and Monitoring the Big River
As important as the big wins are, and these are the figures your senior team are going to want to see, you must also demonstrate the effectiveness of the methods used to achieve your ultimate goals. And in marketing, there are many methods.
If you imagine your marketing efforts as a big river and the goal is to flow to the sea, you can start to understand how everything you do affects the river.
To enable the river to flow to the sea, there will be hundreds of streams and tributaries flowing into it. Now, imagine if one of those streams was to become blocked or run dry. Yes, the river won’t dry up, but it won’t be flowing effectively and the overall volume of water will be less.
In marketing, we aim to open up, test and measure the effectiveness of these streams. By measuring the volume of water flowing through the streams into the river, you can start to build a picture of how effective they are.
Ok, enough metaphorical talk.
What I’m trying to say is, ‘marketing success’ can’t be judged by your overall ultimate goal. Successful marketing means the entire process is working effectively.
In real marketing terms, this means measuring every action and summarising how the action contributes to your overall goal.
This is especially important when it comes to reporting the success of more ‘risky’ streams (sorry, we’ve gone back to the river metaphor!)
Some types of marketing activity are daily business, the stuff you do every day and there is no question it works. Senior management will not be interested in hearing about something they know is tested and successful.
Besides, you want to prove your marketing prowess with successful new or riskier activities, not the simple stuff.
High-risk activity will vary from business to business but generally, it’s previously untried or costly activities. These are the successes you should be explaining to your MDs or Boards.
What to Keep In Your Drawer
This blog started off with a question which is surprisingly common from senior managers. The first time I was asked the question, the MD was walking past my desk and as a floundered for an answer it was too late and he had moved onto another colleague.
“Why did he do that?”, I asked a colleague. I felt like I had missed a chance to share success because I was trying to find an answer to his question. I soon realised he hadn’t been asking me about the overall marketing function, what he wanted was a quick snapshot of how we were doing.
Yes, its slightly unorthodox and we did have monthly meetings where he was given detailed information but I can guarantee you will STILL be confronted in this way. Another senior member used to ask “are we winning?” when I bumped into him in the car park. It’s the same question.
These encounters taught me early on to always have a good, recent example of success which would be easy for me to recount. A success drawer, if you like, full of interesting tidbits that essentially, proved I could do my job!
Measure, Measure and then Measure Again.
Of course, having a drawer full of success means measuring. Measurements are how you explain success, so at risk of repeating myself here but don’t forget to always measure what you do and let the numbers speak for themselves.
Working at a digital marketing agency, this has now become even more fundamental to what I do – for our business to retain clients we need to measure success and feed it back to marketing managers like you, who will then need to report on marketing to your seniors.
For some businesses, SEO or content marketing may be previously unexplored areas so constitute a ‘high risk’ to your senior team so reporting on success is a must.
For that reason, when you work with us, we provide simple yet comprehensive reports, designed to make your life easier when it comes to explaining success.
After all, digital is just one set of streams in the river of marketing and we are more than happy to look after those streams for you. SEO, web copy and social media are water courses we have opened, measured and know how to navigate expertly.
Sorry, you knew I wasn’t going to leave that metaphor alone…