How to Achieve “No Excuses Marketing” in 2015

All marketing leaders in the process of seeking to prove and continuously improve the value of marketing encounter at least some objections from team members. Whether they are spoken or unspoken (e.g. the fear of being measured and found wanting) it can be challenging to overcome these objections. If you find yourself in this situation heading into 2015, here are some ideas, based on these most-frequent excuses the marketing leaders (CMOs, VPs and Directors of Marketing) we work with on Marketing Performance Management (MPM) initiatives have had to overcome.

– We don’t have the time or money
– It’s too hard and we don’t know where to start
– Measuring ROI is impossible
– We don’t have the data

Lack of Time and Resources. This is the most frequent response leaders hear when it comes to doing anything new or hard.  Share the unvarnished truth, that even the largest organizations don’t have enough of either of these – and they never will. The single best way to secure more resources and more respect is by proving the value of marketing, and demonstrating that further investment is more than just a good idea – it is critical to achieving business goals.

Not Knowing Where to Start.  The next biggest obstacle they hear is that it’s too hard and they don’t know where to start.  First, acknowledge these folks for their honesty – it takes some guts to say I don’t know.  Be open in your response. Say, yes, it is hard but every other part of the organization has done it and we can too.

Research over the past decade plus has proven that there is a direct relationship between proving marketing’s value and marketing’s alignment to the business.  Many marketing programs live in isolation; others are designed to support the sales team.  Even marketing organizations that create and adhere to a marketing plan are often lacking alignment. So, this is the first place to start – the kind of do not pass go, do not collect $200 start.

Many organizations believe they have alignment, but we see marketing plans from companies of all sizes in all industries, and less than 10% can actually make this claim.  Marketers who craft plans without access to the organization’s strategic or business plan are doomed from the get-go.  To drive results you need to know what needles to move, not the overall revenue target, but the bets and plays the organization needs to make and win in order to achieve the revenue target.

You know you have alignment when you can draw a direct line between marketing activities and business outcome.  Aligned marketers are not defined by their focus or a function, such as social media, interactive, digital marketing, traditional marketing; they are clued into and focused on the business.

Inability to Measure ROI. Some marketers believe that impact or ROI can’t be measured. Whether this is really fear of being measured or just that they have not personally seen or done it, you must debunk this myth.  “What one man can do, another can do.” And many have successfully measured ROI. Agree that yes, it won’t be easy, it will take work, it may take some new skills, processes, tools, or even external help, AND yes we can and must measure marketing’s value, impact, and contribution.

The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Break the project down into small steps and then take a step together.  Which one?  Go back to alignment and identify the top one or two needles that marketing is expected to move and choose the appropriate metric.  Work with your team to determine how to measure this metric, capture the data from programs designed to influence it, and how to report it.

Lack of data.  Acknowledge that data is a real and legitimate challenge.  Before your team can address this challenge, you need to be clear about the problem.  For some marketers this challenge is due to the prolific number of disparate systems and data which inhibits data collection and analysis.  For others, it isn’t so much a lack of data as the wrong kind of data.  And for others, it may truly be a lack of data.  But, in today’s data-driven environment, every marketing organization needs to step up its data game if it’s going to remain relevant to the business.

Summary. Leaders see excuses for what they are – fear of the unknown, and turn them into teachable moments. To survive and thrive in today’s business environment, marketers must have the skills to measure and report on marketing’s contribution to the business. While it may be difficult at first, the payoff makes it well worth the effort.