Every job is about getting out there and taking risks. This is particularly true in marketing, where practitioners move between art and science. The risks are carefully calculated, but the result is not guaranteed.
After almost 20 years in this field, I have learned that there is a great fear of marketing measurement. This is associated with fear of failure, which is a deep thorn for the subjective side of the business. If a campaign is unsuccessful, you must be prepared to communicate this to your customers.
But telling your client that you failed and may have wasted their money is difficult — so difficult that many marketers make sure they don’t have to by “measuring” subjective nonsense for those campaigns. Communicating openly with your client requires tremendous trust and a client who is willing to fail quickly and quickly pivot to try a different approach.
Instead of focusing on the ultimate measurement – how marketing efforts increase a company’s profitability – many marketers focus on other metrics such as web traffic and SEO rankings. While these are positive indicators, they are not the bottom line – and the bottom line is what matters to the boards, CEOs and investors who are our clients.
The merging of marketing & sales
In B2B, marketing is finally getting its money’s worth. Where the focus used to be purely sales (like driving around in a truck taking friends to lunchtime sales), marketing is now central to the growth formula. One of the biggest examples of this shift is that companies are looking to hire a Chief Growth Officer (CGO) to jointly lead sales and marketing efforts.
It’s important to understand this trend, because you don’t just grow on income—you also have expenses. Typically, and wrongly, sales are viewed as a simple back and forth: selling makes money and marketing costs money. But that’s the growth model of the 1990s (see above where guys drive around in trucks and take people to lunch).
Growth requires marketing and sales to work in lockstep from demand generation to SQL. Marketing versus sales is an ancient story – but with the shift to CGO and digital transformation tools, it’s all teamwork today.
This setup requires constant feedback and, at best, is automated by a CRM platform in a loop: marketers work on call and give sales the leads, and sales then give real-time feedback to marketing. This allows marketers to optimize their campaigns based on actual sales.
The way to real value marketing
If companies aren’t working to align sales and marketing, there’s no way to truly appreciate marketing—nor has the marketing industry helped itself.
We did a poor job of proving the value. There are many ways to measure value, but the best way is to stand up and demand that you be accountable for revenue alongside sales because it takes both teams to make a business successful.
One way to stick to this standard is to divide total sales by your sales and marketing expenses (read: demand generation and staff) as a ratio to see sales growth. Unfortunately, marketing almost never wants that responsibility, so they get cut first because their CEO can’t articulate the value of marketing quickly.
We’ve seen sales teams looking to cut costs look at marketing and think, “Well, if we put that money back into a salesperson, we’d get more sales.”
Sales wants to put all of the demand into one human who can only sell eight hours a day, rather than putting it into an automated marketing system that generates demand 24/7.
But the benefit of marketing is how effectively we can target. Our tools are on all the time; You don’t sleep when sales sleep. They don’t have capacity issues and are incredibly inexpensive compared to traditional forms of marketing — and even a salesperson’s salary.
Marketing efficiency promotes the goal
Marketing departments often try to grow at the expense of profitability. We want a bigger budget and we want to grow rather than primarily focus on an efficient way to pass leads to sales. If marketers can become adept demand generation machines and get sales to see the value in their efforts, then they won’t be first.
Summer Craig is a management consultant with expertise in marketing strategy and digital media who has been in digital advertising since its inception. In addition to agency and sales experience, Craig has also worked internally, at times leading an extended marketing team of 75 people and a budget of $100 million. She founded Craig Group in 2019 to help venture capital portfolio companies achieve profitable revenue growth through sales and marketing.