There used to be a clear separation between sales and marketing, but the new reality is that marketing is quickly becoming a source of growth and productivity. Traditionally, marketing is viewed as a cost center that builds awareness and shapes brand perceptions. But the line between sales and marketing has blurred considerably.
Marketing is quickly transforming into a significant, influential, and multifaceted profit center. The C-suite may find this concept very appealing, but it may have them scratching their heads on how to begin. The idea is simple: reduce marketing waste to lower costs, which then increases profit and…ta da!…a profit center.
The execution may be a bit more complicated, but shifting to a profit-driven mindset is within the grasp of all good marketers. Here are a few best practices and considerations to get started on the road to ROI productivity and broadening the role of marketing.
Understand Current Business Model–Sharing pipeline responsibility with your sales team is a fundamental shift in business culture. Start by understanding your current business model well enough. Identify opportunities in the business architecture to incorporate marketing’s role of generating profits. All marketing activities should have revenue-generating aspects to them that support the mission, vision, and strategic goals of the company. By realigning mindset and empowering marketers, they’ll become more accountable to generate sustainable value over the long term. This change will likely come with bumps and bruises along the way, but there are strategic advantages and big returns that make it worth the effort.
Skip the Vanity Metrics–Marketers cannot operate in the dark and can sometimes rely on buzzwords and vanity metrics that only lead them astray. Identify what will best demonstrate success. Some KPIs aren’t as important as they look—you’ve got to dig deeper and measure the contribution you generate. With advancements in analytics, you can account for budget spend to identify waste and drive performance improvements. Understand your audience and track the end-to-end effects of the entire purchase journey. Discover and adapt your methodology and you’ll be running impactful, measurable marketing campaigns that help you connect deeply with your customers.
Growth Requires Data and Technology–There are a considerable number of opportunities for brands to interact with customers, and new technologies and data are helping to put marketers at the wheel. By successfully integrating analytic firepower with data sources, they can plan, run, and generate measurable returns. Modern customer insights have progressed beyond simple market research and customer lists in the quest to understand your audience and the channels through which to reach them. Automation, CRM, and content management are a few technology examples that are helping marketing teams to measure more effective campaigns in a sustainable way.
Sophisticated Content–While data clearly plays a critical role in quantifying outcomes, you can’t entirely remove the human element from the equation. Expert care and attention are needed to convert data into useful, actionable insight. It’s important to use subject matter experts who will be valuable to your customers. Many brands are now in the content creation, distribution, and publishing business.
An example of great branded content that paid off big is LEGO with the creation of The LEGO Movie. They use powerful storytelling with a good-versus-evil narrative, which concludes with the reality of a young boy sharing valuable father-son LEGO play time. A subtle brand message to the audience that they can rekindle their childhood imagination, build stronger bonds with their children, and escape the monotony of life by playing with LEGOs—while helping to drive more products through DVDs, video games, mobile apps, licensing, toys, and gift merchandise sales.
Additionally, they are increasing revenue and exposure to their products through rich digital content experiences and customer-centric social media strategies that drive engagement. Proving that by approaching your content marketing with an ROI mindset can provide a multitude of revenue opportunities.
Don’t Settle—Optimize–Once you deliver impressive results, why stop there? Continue to drive the effectiveness of marketing spend and all paid media investments. With the appropriate toolsets, techniques, and processes, marketers can maximize performance with active optimization. This process helps to significantly improve success and ensure budget is pivoted to the right channels to drive the most value for brands and their demand generation programs.
With a brave new world of marketers ready to generate revenue, this can pose some difficult questions and decisions. So, what are you going to do about it? Start by asking your team and your media agency: What is being done to deliver measurable business impact to the bottom line? How will this campaign or marketing activity generate revenue? Can you measure results? If they are not embracing revenue responsibility and adopting a “we’re all in this together” attitude, they have lost sight of the end goal: profits.