It was an impossible situation, the question had been asked, and it didn’t matter how it was answered, every answer would lead to the same place, and not one she could come back from.
The question seemed so simple, so reasonable, and yet it would start a clock starting that would end with her needing to find a new job.
The question was from her chief executive and it was this “how much new business did that ad campaign create?”
There are several ways to answer that question. She could start by saying “Ad’s do not create new business directly; they are just one element of awareness that smooths the way for our company and product to be considered”
Or she could say “That ad created 10 new deals this year and 30 new deals over the next five years”
Or she could say “In the same way that any variable in an equation is critical to the\ final number, this ad campaign was instrumental in every deal we have closed, worked, won and lost”
It doesn’t matter what she says, because the chief executive hears “we spent a lot of money on something that cannot directly be attributed to results”, and now there is no trust, no confidence, and there is no obvious way of rebuilding these critical team requirements.
So what can she learn from this situation?\
Firstly, marketing must have a strategic plan, one that includes measures of success that are leading indicators of the goals you are trying to achieve, and not just the ultimate lagging indicator of revenue. That’s not to say that revenue isn’t important (it’s critical), but every journey must be measured by your ability to take every step, as well as the eventual arrival at the destination.
If you plan to go from New York to Boston, you have to take the subway to the airport, pass through TSA, board the plane, which must take off, travel and land, before you disembark, collect your luggage, obtain your über, arrive at your hotel, check-in and get to your room. Every step on this process demands careful planning and execution, and the more you think about it the more steps you can identify that also must be planned and executed flawlessly. Not one step on the process can be skipped if you want to succeed. And every step has choices that require investment and provide a different level of performance depending on the choices you make.
If you were to measure your trip to Boston by any one step in the process, you would get a misleading impression of the effectiveness and cost of the process. Marketing is no different. If your boss demands that you provide an ROI for a specific single element of marketing, any response you give will be equally as misleading.
The leading indicators of your marketing will vary depending on the plan you define. But here are some ideas.
- Contacts - How many people are your marketing too, each week?
- Inquiries - How many of these people are actively engaged in consuming your marketing?
- Leads - How many of these people have provided you with intelligence about their intent (budget, authority, need and timescale)?
- Opportunities - How many of these leads have been acknowledged by your sales team as worth investing sales effort to follow-up (Have assigned a proposed close date and proposed value to)
I Call this model CILO (Contacts, Inquiries, Leads and Opportunities) and every single market investment can be measured against these criteria.
An email, will be sent to a number of CONTACTS. Some of those CONTACTS with open the emails (INQUIRIES), and some of those opened emails will lead to the sharing of intelligence (LEADS), and some of those LEADS will lead to an OPPORTUNITY.
Now some of those OPPORTUNITIES will end up as CLOSED WON business.
Of course, One OPPORTUNITY may have lots of associated LEADS, and each LEAD may have lots of associated INQUIRIES. That’s that nature of demand marketing, it’s not a 1:1 model, it’s a funnel!
Emails, webinars, white papers, events, web pages, blogs, tweets, adverts, SEO, SEM, everything can be reported against a CILO target. And using this level of consistency across every element of marketing ensures that the lake of data you create can be mined in the most effective way.
They don’t teach you these skills in business school, but they are critical to achieving business success.