The Uphill Battle – Proving the Value of Marketing
One of the most stressful parts of being a marketer is explaining and proving department value to your boss or organization as a whole. All too often, in a Game of Thrones-like turn of events, your boss betrays you and/or your interests after having a tough conversation with their boss about your department’s contribution to the profitability of Westeros. Bossman is a formidable foe when it comes to securing budget for your team, or even something as simple as proving worth to your organization. So, how do we attack this uphill battle?
Your Weapon of Choice
No, your weapon of choice in this battle isn’t a dragon… not nearly deadly enough. It’s a top-to-bottom data-driven strategy. When you can quantify your impact on the organization’s business goals and articulate your nimble strategy as well as the data behind it, boss man will quickly return to his/her fun-loving, advocating-self fighting alongside you.
Align Marketing Goals with Business Goals
First, it is important to understand the relationship and impact between the top and the bottom of the organization.
It starts with data. Your CEO and board use data to shape the annual goals of the business. These business goals should inform high-level marketing goals. An example of a business goal would be, “Improve profitability by expanding share of wallet of existing customers 10% by end of the year.” These and all goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound in order to inform your marketing goals. If they’re not, push back on your leaders.
Once we gather direction and inputs from our business goals, we quantify the role of marketing to accomplish unique needs. An example of a marketing goal would be, “Drive 10% more online purchases per customer.” Once we identify exactly how many online purchases we need to drive this year (110,000) to reach our goal, we can track weekly, monthly and/or quarterly if we are on track to do so.
Prove You’re Testing and Identifying Cost-Efficient Tactics to Achieve Goals
When we have marketing goals in place, it is then important to identify optimization metrics. These point us to the tactics, channels, campaigns, audiences and content types that are most cost-efficient in reaching the goals. With this insight, we are able to pinpoint the most cost-efficient strategy to reach the marketing goals. For a revenue-based goal, this might be ROAS (return on ad spend) or ROI. For an engagement goal, this could be CPE or share of voice. An awareness metric could be CPM.
Most importantly, your metrics should enable you to easily identify which option is quickly and cost-efficiently making progress towards your goal, so you can pivot your strategy and/or spend towards that option in order to reach and exceed your goal.
When you sell your worth as a marketer against your ability to test and identify the most cost effective marketing methods, you give yourself more wiggle room for failure/course correction. A common mistake of marketers is falling in love with a new marketing tactic without aligning it with a marketing goal or outlining a plan to measure its success towards that goal.
Your boss or your boss’ boss is a malevolent dictator that would make Cersei blush.
More than likely, if you showed your boss a white walker, they would give you the budget/army needed to take down the Night King. You just need to go through the trouble of hiking beyond the wall, sacrificing a dragon, aligning marketing goals with business goals and be willing to pivot your strategy towards cost-efficient marketing tactics. Your boss is more than likely being held to quantifiable goals, so you should quantify how you’re going to help reach those goals. At the end of the day, everyone just wants to look good in front of their boss.
Data driven strategies don’t account for engagement or brand metrics.
Data optimizes strategies by pointing to top performers in terms of the optimization metric that stems from a marketing goal. Create marketing goals relative to any objective (revenue, engagement or awareness), and the resulting cost efficiency optimization metrics will point to which option is getting you closer to reaching your goal for the smallest cost. Cost can be dollars or time, and time can be converted to dollars.
Align your strategy with the business’, quantify and optimize your strategy with data, and your boss will have no choice but to… bend the knee.