Perhaps it’s because it’s the end of the week, but I’m feeling bullish about our profession!
Marketing has a lot to offer the top table. Done properly the marketing department can be a critical constituent of doing business well, growing orders, increasing revenue, deepening margins, and driving cash by building and maintaining executive networks, attending business events, identifying pipeline opportunities, growing the pipeline, planning workshops for the business around how to respond to environmental challenges, creating and pricing and testing new offers, developing programmes for key accounts, and engaging with delivery teams to ensure a total brand experience for clients and employees – as well as running a damn fine event.
There is a real need for good marketing out there. And in my experience, it is possible to grow the link between marketing departments and the businesses they serve. It takes time, care, and proof of delivery to create trust. It requires a brilliant and dedicated team of marketers committed to the cause and it requires the preparedness of a few business executives to go on the journey to provide air cover. I think there are five steps that B2B marketers need to take to grow the link between marketing and the business. I’m going to talk about just one of those steps today: focus on business KPI outcomes not marketing KPI inputs or outputs.
Marketers need to focus our work on outcomes not inputs or outputs. The Back Office nature of what we have become together with the traditional difficulties of measuring which marketing activities have delivered which sales has led B2B marketing to focus instead on the number of event invites we’ve sent out, web hits, and the number of social media likes. While this is useful information for the marketing team, it tells the CEO nothing about what the activity is delivering financially to the business. And that is critical. Executives see marketers focused on things like brand loyalty and Twitter follows – which mean nothing to them. Hell, we’re still arguing about what a brand is ourselves, so how can we expect anyone else to have a clue? Social media is hardly a keen interest for the pre-millennials who sit on the Board:- an audit from a global PR firm earlier this year found just 2 per cent of CEOs from the top 50 companies listed in Fortune Magazine’s 2018 Global 500 rankings have a visible presence on Twitter, and that proportion is actually declining – it was 8% three years ago! Instead, marketing has to build a marketing dashboard that contributes to business KPIs. When I was at PA Consulting Group, I focused marketing around the number of business development meetings held between Partners and prospects. And as for account marketing, we agreed that marketing would assist on account pursuits that exceeded £0.5 million in value. To emphasise the point, I organised the marketing team at PA around delivering on the business KPIs with the “Go-to-Market” teams driving all marketing activity agreed with the business and the different capability and message teams focused upon supporting “Go-to-Market”. The business is more likely to trust a team that is delivering business KPI outcomes. That must be the first step then in the re-build of trust between the business and the marketing team.