Snakes From the Sky…Measuring Marketing

Years ago when I was mountain biking in the Don River valley in Toronto, I glimpsed something flying through the sky heading straight for my head.  A split second later,  it bounced off my helmet, landed harmlessly on the ground, and slithered away into the grass–a snake of all things ! I looked up, and saw a hawk flying away, unhappy no doubt about his lost prey. In retelling this  story, people incredulously ask:  “what are the odds of a snake falling from the sky and hitting you in the head?”
Snakes Falling From the Sky -- The Odds of Measuring Marketing ROMI in Most Companies

Snakes Falling From the Sky -- The Odds of Measuring Marketing ROMI in Most Companies

About the same odds as Marketing partnering with Finance to measure the impact of Marketing at most companies. If we really believe in marketing, and marketing with impact, the CFO should be the CMO’s best friend. Marketing should want and, indeed, demand measurement. My first boss once told me: “Data is your friend.” He meant that if you had the data and facts on your side, you would win the debate the majority of time. In fact, every Marketer should have Marketing Metrics: 50+ Metrics Every Executive Should Master” (click here) on their desk, so they can win the marketing measurement debate.

Why isn’t Marketing measured more often ?

Marketing As A Cost

When Marketing isn’t measured, it’s like anything else at a company–a cost. And it’s treated like a cost: when times are good, people spend more; when times are bad, people spend less. The reason it’s so easy in so many organizations to cut Marketing is that no one knows what it’s worth. Changing people’s mindset that Marketing is an “investment”  should be one of the top priorities for the CMO. This also changes the conversation from “how much can we cut” to “what are we giving up if we don’t invest this money?”                 

Fear of Failure

Marketing people are human. They’re proud of their work and want people to see and admire it. But they’re also like anyone else, a bit concerned that when examined closely, their work might not hold up. Fearful that it might not turn out to have the impact they would like. If any part of your Marketing organization isn’t measuring their impact, I’m sure there will be concern when you announce that it will be measured in the future. If Marketing isn’t having an impact, then we should improve it, stop it, but most importantly, do something other than continue it. Part of the CMO’s job is to eliminate people’s fear by rewarding transparency and measurement.

Measurement & Tools

It’s difficult to measure. We’re different. There are unquantifiable benefits. There are too many variables. We don’t have the tools, etc.  With proper planning, you can measure the single variable impact of virtually any marketing initiative. If there are multi-variable impacts, then measure that too. Identify the un-quantifiable benefits. Build, buy or create the tools. All too often, Marketing isn’t valued because it isn’t measured–and almost anything can be measured if there is enough desire to measure it. The CMO’s job is to address and overcome false objections to measurement.

Brand equity building activities are especially susceptible to this kind of debate. There is a belief in some quarters that the “brand” is sacrosanct and can’t be easily measured, and indeed, shouldn’t be measured like more tactical marketing initiatives. This is silly. With the right data, you can define the impact of brand attributes on overall brand image or satisfaction. In turn, we can correlate these with business outcomes. So, we can and should measure the relationship between brand building activities and the ultimate financial outcomes that we want Marketing to drive.

This is the CMO’s job. To hold Marketing accountable for it’s spending. To  ensure transparency and elminate fear. To ensure impact. Marketing should be building the brand, customer satisfaction and delivering top line growth and bottom line returns to the company.

It’s possible that a snake will fall from the sky and hit your CFO in the head, rendering him unable to understand why Marketing is spending so much on activities without understanding their impact. Just don’t hold your breath waiting…


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