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Copyright 2007 by
Do you gamble with your marketing dollar? Do you invest
it wisely and expect a return?
These simple questions still throw people off and many
feel the need to justify and explain why they can't. The
usual excuses are "you don't understand what we do," "it
can't be measured," it's all about long-term branding,"
etc., such answer could easily constitute a book of
excuses in itself.
The situation is simple, you must expect positive
returns from your marketing, it's not a gamble. Hope has
nothing to do with it.
Marketing is a risk
Every marketing strategy or tactic you implement has the
potential to bring in returns or help you close shop.
Either, way it's your choice.
Risk, in a nutshell, can be explained as follows: "You
size up the odds, weigh the costs and benefits, and
attempt to avoid negative outcomes" (Ben Warwick,
Handbook of Risks.) This simple definition of risk
should become the modus operandi for marketers who are
focused on helping their business grow.
The evolution of marketing
Marketing is a fairly old (but not often respectable)
discipline having evolved through many stages from the
mum-&-pop shops of old to the gigantic marketing budget
many FMCG companies exhibit today. And in no time in its
history as it been more important to define its true
value than today. It's interesting that in the days of
risk analysis, marketing has largely remained unscathed,
untouched. The past few years have seen a revival of
Marketing ROI but not an advent, as it existed before.
Measuring marketing risk however is fairly new and is
still evolving as a discipline.
There are many ways to calculate risk and the formulas
are often as complex as the person behind them wants
them to be. For the purpose of tightening marketing, we
can look at three basic economic principles to ensure
that our investment in marketing is near risk-free as we
possibly can. These elements are people, time and money.
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What could you do without people? Where could you go?
The problem today is extremely acute: We can find good
marcom people but not business-focused, true marketers.
In the past ten years, the quality of marketing people has
increased tremendously and it is now fairly easy to find
good public relations managers, direct marketers, event
managers and even strategists. It is however difficult to
find people with enough business acumen to turn their skills
into true business weapons for your arsenal. There are two
missing elements to this equation:
- Few of them have ever sold anything directly
- Most of them have never run a business
The good news if you are a marketer is that both skills are
easier to get than ever before. It is now easy to set-up a
small business and if you are early in your career, you
should consider it, it will make you a better, more rounded
business person and your contribution to any future business
will increase proportionally. As for selling, it would be
useful for all marketers to either start in sales or do a
few years stint there before moving to marketing. Once you
understand the hunger and fear that comes with missing your
quarter, as well as the elation when you meet it, the better
you'll be at setting-up strategies and tactics that matters
to the business, not to the award committees.
On that note, if you are looking for marketing people today,
add these two points to your recruitment list, it will
increase your chances to succeed.
If there is one element that we're all in short supply of,
it's time. The funny thing is that we are also all given the
same amount every day.
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Time squandered will never come back, we don't have the time
to do it right but always find the time to do it again,
etc., etc. Time is both infinite and in short-supply and in
the heat of action moves at the speed of light but when
business is not coming in, it moves at the speed of a snail.
We could go on. You understand the metaphors.
Time is your second big risk factor. You need to use it in
the best you can as it moves without fail towards a result
(one that you might not even like.) Don't get me wrong, it's
not about controlling time, it's about controlling your use
There are mainly two ways to control it better: reach and
frequency (one just doesn't go without the other.)
Reach is simple, do you have access to the people that
matter in your sales cycle?
If the answer is no, then you need to redesign your database
strategy as ‘no great database, no great business'. It is
the life blood of your marketing operations and now includes
analytics where you develop more and more relevant segments
based on statistical behaviour. This level of segmentation
allows you to develop the right campaigns which, coupled
with sending them at the right time, can turn your marketing
into a powerful business force.
So implementing a campaign at the right time is the first
aspect of leveraging time to the fullest. The second is
sending it frequently enough so that each campaign has an
impact (but not too often so that it doesn't become a
nuisance.) That balance is crucial in an opt-in world where
customers have more opportunities to complain, or walk-away,
than ever before.
Where would business without money?
It's best not to answer that question, the rhetoric would
take too long.
If you are like most businesses your marketing budget (and
others) will be finite. So what can you do to maximize (or
optimise) it? Answer: Treat your budget just like any other
financial investment and conduct a risk analysis.
A typical risk analysis will comprise both a qualitative and
quantitative aspect forcing you to look at each element and
ask what would happened if we didn't invest it? What are the
internal and external factors influencing this investment?
What are the threats? Etc. One of the most important
question is what would happen if we invested this amount in
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The last question is crucial as we all take for granted that
investing in marketing is necessary. It's not. If you do it
badly, you're better-off investing that money into a more
secure project where the returns outweigh the costs. This is
a crucial issue and no marketer should expect to have his or
her budget simply because the department exist.
Fundamentally, marketing is a necessity in today's
environment but not matter how big the investment is, it
should be subject to scrutiny just like any other business
investment. The funny thing is, it is not and often
marketers expect their budget to grow from year to year
without really questioning its relationship to other parts
of the business.
There you have it. Marketing is a risk and you can't go on
happily thinking that whatever you're doing is working for
the best of the organisation. By the time you do so, the
market will have shifted from under your feet.
One last point, when doing a risk analysis remember that
marketing is often an opinion. An opinion tainted by the
marketer's worldview, or his boss's, an opinion based on
campaigns that worked and are expected to work again. Let's
face it, marketing evolves even though some of its
fundamental precepts are eternal. So the risk here is not
just people, time and money, but to be closed minded, not be
open to testing, not trying new things, that is the biggest
risk of all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Frederic Moraillon leads marketing for Business
Objects in Asia-Pacific & Japan where, with his
team, he develops and implements profitable
marketing strategies aimed at helping customers
and prospects develop their business through the
awareness, use and development of performance
management solutions. Frederic brings with him
15 years of diversified industry and functional
experience enhancing revenues, profits and
market share of multinational businesses
operating in Asia Pacific. He has managed
hundreds of regional business and consumer
marketing campaigns delivering solid financial
results. To that effect, Frederic has developed
and implemented the 'Simple Marketing Strategy'
and has published several articles in regional
publications (Marketing ROI: A case of corporate
survival; Do you need Customers?; Is Loyalty
Profitable?; Sales Cycle Marketing, See
) He regularly gives speeches on Marketing ROI
and Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) to
further the cause of the strategic role of
marketing in an organisation's business arsenal.