Marketing is More Than Sales: How Context Impacts Goals

Marketing is More Than Sales: How Context Impacts Goals

27 Feb 2020 Marketing

For more than two decades, the U.S. Army recruiting catch-phrase was “Be all you can be.” It’s a good reminder – along with the current competition for the Army’s $500 million global business marketing account – that marketing is more than boots on the ground to drive sales. Marketing supports actions — whether that involves driving recruitment for the military, applications for education companies or sales for a retailers. In order to understand how to measure marketing effectiveness, CMOs must look at relevant data and information in the context of these goals – in the case of Army recruitment, for example, the global political climate and Congressional rulings – to understand how effective marketing spend will be.  

What Marketing Mix Modeling Can Learn From Digital Attribution

The latest RFP from the Army, which is slated to be awarded in March 2015, focuses on general advertising, public affairs support and direct marketing for the purposes of personnel recruitment and retention. Military enlistment – especially in today’s volatile world – can be a hard sell, and a prime example of why relying on marketing mix modeling (MMM) alone falls short. Estimating the impact of your marketing tactics on sales — and forecasting future sales based on those same tactics — without understanding the conversions that take place along the path to purchase can lead marketers to underestimate the value of tactics that are not directly linked to the sale.

In short: context matters. A lot.

A marketing planning system that incorporates attribution analysis empowers CMOs to identify the impact of tactics – not just on actions but as they relate to consideration. Greater visibility into pre-conversion events enables marketers to allocate marketing spend for the greatest impact. In fact, a system like Greesys, which incorporates innovative agent-based modeling (ABM) software, offers even more opportunities to optimize your marketing mix. Simulated audiences are used to test marketing tactics, channels, geographies and more, enabling marketers to forecast at consumer group levels with much higher levels of predictability.

How Are You Measuring Marketing Effectiveness?

Several years ago, in an article published in the McKinsey Quarterly, McKinsey&Company co-authors David Court, Jonathan Gordon and Jesko Perrey offered five questions that your marketing team must ask – and know the answers to – in order to ensure marketing effectiveness. In the face of today’s even more complex and diverse marketing landscape, these questions have stayed relevant.

  1. What influences our consumers along their decision journey?
    As the expression goes, it’s not just about the destination, but the journey. The challenge is gaining the needed insights into influencers – whether offline, online or environmental – better understand which touchpoints, messages and outside factors have an impact on consumer behaviors. Then – and this is the challenging part – marketers must be open-minded and agile enough to use this evidence to make meaningful decisions, some of which may fly in the face of established practices or be politically uncomfortable.
  2. How objective is our marketing judgment?
    As with all things creative, appeal is in the eye of the beholder. It can be difficult to step back from tried-and-true marketing tactics – even in the face of analytical evidence that a particular tactic is losing traction – especially when so many personal feelings are tied up in the size of a marketing budget. The article notes “And given the money required, it’s hard both to make a rational investment case for additional marketing spending and—in the same breath—to admit that you are really making a passionate guess.” That’s where the value of a robust, systematic approach to planning, attribution, forecasting and optimization comes in. Better insights into the impact that changes may have on your marketing mix and spend enables CMOs to get buy-in for the decisions that need to be made.
  3. Do our marketing plans address financial risk?
    We’ve talked before about how over-emphasizing new media – and blindly shifting your marketing budget in that direction – can lead to short-term gains, but long-term losses. CMOs must set acceptable parameters for risk and maintain agility. It’s one of the reasons that annual budget planning is shifting to more dynamic models. According to the McKinsey Quarterly, the best approach includes “mitigating risk while providing breathing room for piloting, testing, and learning.” Context is key — what works for company X isn’t guaranteed to work for company Y.
  4. Is our marketing organization optimized for the current marketing landscape?
    Just as the marketing environment has grown more complex, so too has the marketing organization. The article notes that the proliferation of new communication vehicles means a rise in the number of specialists that a marketing organization must have. In a recent blog, we talked about the need for more collaboration between CMOs and CIOs. And there’s another seat appearing in the C-suite with greater frequency – that of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Rather than being intimidated – or mistrustful – of specialists, marketers need to embrace those that bring expertise and insight into a confusing assortment of marketing channels.
  5. What metrics should we track?
    Marketing is a work in progress. Adopting an approach that takes advantage of analytics insights across a range of tactics gives CMOs the best possible point-of-view for smarter decisions budget allocation and, as the McKinsey article notes, “lay{s) a foundation for more sophisticated approaches to tracking marketing ROI in the future.”

Marketing organizations that successfully address these questions understanding that knowing how to measure marketing effectiveness includes understanding that it is an evolving process — one that must encompass the entire consumer journey, not just the last click or call that results in a sale. It is, in fact, about being all that you can be – and more.

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