February 1, 2013
Marketing ROI – The New Accountability
Recently, there has been pretty consistent noise about the emerging recovery. It may be true. I hope so. But the truth depends totally on your business. Let’s assume it is true and that it will continue. What does is mean for marketers who need to shift into a more aggressive mode?
First, it means ratcheting up marketing investments. And for the companies that are prepared to make an investment, I believe they will do so with a new with much more demanding justification. For those of us in the marketing business it will mean much greater pressure from our clients and bosses to demonstrate that every nickle invested in marketing is working hard. Proof of performance is not new but as businesses gain the confidence to spend more on marketing they will want ongoing assurance of payback.
To what should marketing investments be accountable? Sales of course, right? Not necessarily. In looking only at sales results one sees only the outcome of many variables, but by themselves sales results give little insight into the sales drivers. And there are many: R/D, product development, brand equity, marketing communications, sales, customer service. Every prospect touch point is a sales driver. How does each of these variables contribute to the sale? How cost effective are investments in awareness building, promotions, discounting, direct sales? And what is the role of Brand goodwill and loyalty in the sale?
Marketing ROI (MROI)
MROI goes beyond sales figures as the sole variable for ROI measurements. Measuring MROI brings more than traditional awareness and image measures to the table. It demonstrates the impact on intermediate behaviors that are necessary precursors to sales. So to measure MROI, it is necessary to take a close look at the customers who drive revenue, not just the cost of reaching them.
Some of the questions that need to be answered to assess MROI include:
- Which customers drive the greatest revenue? Why?
- Which products and services drive the greatest revenue? Why?
- What marketing programs have driven the greatest revenue?
- What do customers think about the company?
- What do customers think about the competition?
- What do my competitor’s customers think about my company?
Other measures that will help you understand if your marketing is working:
– Perceived Quality
- ROC (Return on Customer)
But before getting into these measures, great attention must be given to the starting point - the strategy. This is the plan of action that drives all of the reasons why the consumer should care about your product. If you haven't got this right, the cleverest tactics on the planet won't deliver.
Strategy begins with validating the basic value of the product. What is it about your product that 1) separates it from competitive offerings and 2) makes it more desirable?
Validation can be partly judgment but also requires a true understanding of the audience for your product - your target audience (more on this in a future blog). You will also need to know your competitors, cold. And don't forget that competitors come in different forms.
Armed with this knowledge you can more accurately understand where your product fits: how desirable it is; what consumers might pay for it; factors influencing positive - and negative - perceptions, etc.
Strategy is the key. Measuring ROI begins with the assumption that your product has a market, and given smart marketing communications has a good chance of success.
So, in the post recession recovery marketers will have to be more accountable. Understanding what is working, and how, will make a company more competitive will mean a bigger top line and more impressive bottom line.