Marketing about growth – beyond number crunching

Another thought provoking post from Adam.  For companies that “burn the box” or “innovate” or “Attack and Explore” – find a balance between ROI analysis and reporting and planning for the future. 

  • There are a lot of executives that believe marketing is a waste of money – you just need to focus on Sales
  • Without marketers and the application of their skills all companies become out of step with shifting markets and inevitably fail.

For the full article, click here.  I’ve placed some extracts below to highlight the key points that I found most interesting.

Look beyond numbers to grow – Chief Marketing Officers

The Evolving CMO” is the Brandweek headline.  According to this article, increasingly CMOs (that’s Chief Marketing Officers) are becoming quite nerdly.  Whereas top marketing folks were once seen as “big idea” folks, now recruiters like Heidrick & Struggles (quoted in the article) are looking for top marketers to be analytical types who pour through on-line data to discern ad effectiveness and response rates.

It’s not at all clear this is a good trend. 

The problem is that numbers tend to focus you on the past, not the future.  Yes, on-line ads and click-throughs offer us a bounty of new numbers on the efficacy of ads, placements, messages, hits – all kinds of things we can run through the same analytical tools used by the rest of the company.  But does studying the recent behavior, upon which we have numbers – such as ad clicks – or of links to facebook pages – or the volume of tweets – or the respondents to a Linked-in group query — do these things tell you what big trends are emerging?  Do they tell you whether your product line could be made obsolete by a new competitor?  That is far less likely to happen. 

All this number crunching may make marketing look more scientific, but the important question is whether it helps the company grow.  Unfortunately, most trend numbers tell us what worked well in the past.  Yet knowing that still doesn’t tell you what will work in the future.  Number crunching is great for execution of a designed plan

Marketers should be all about growth.  And growth comes from moving beyond executing static promotional programs on existing products.  To grow you have to be flexible to enter new markets, pioneer innovation and generate new solutions.  Somebody has to lead the charge to do scenario planning that opens the collective vision to doing new things – things not visible in the numbers.  Somebody has to understand the behavior of competition to recognize the holes they are unable to address because of their Lock-in to past practices.  Somebody has to reach beyond the numbers to offer Disruptions which allow the company to move from making computers to making consumer electronics (like Apple), or from making cars to making airplanes (like Honda).  Somebody has to be willing to manage market tests that teach you how to create new markets where you have fewer competitors and higher profits as growth takes off.  And all of this work is well beyond analyzing the numbers.

I advocate that all executives pull their heads out of the numbers to undertake these tasks for growth. 

They shouldn’t retreat to the bastion of numbers to try and make themselves more likable.  Rather, they should lead the charge to make sure planning is about the future, not the past.  They need to keep executives paranoid about competitors.  They need to constantly bring up company shortcomings left vulnerable due to Lock-in.  And they need to champion test after test after test to keep the company growing.  In these roles, they are more important than anyone else in the company.  And vital to growth and viability.  Without marketers and the application of their skills all companies become out of step with shifting markets and inevitably fail.

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