Obvious too a lot of people but still there many that view marketing as something closer to an art form, and sale as something totally different. When you read posts and articles about sales and marketing, many spend too much time trying to explain the differences between them. Instead of just see them as to different (but related) approaches to achieve the end goal: Sales.
One problem can be that there are different end users down the line. The creative agencies sells a product (e.g. a TV commercial) to their end users, which would be us, the marketing people in a company, and then the marketing people need to sell the commercial inside the company, before it ends up doing what it was supposed to do in the first place; selling the company’s products to their target group (or groups).
If we, the marketers, don’t focus on the end mission of what we are doing: Selling to the final end user, we can easily get caught up in the details when we are buying and thinking more about pleasing internal groups in our company and then the discussion is mostly on liking, fonts, pictures and colors. And you have to admit it; making a cool film that the CEO likes helps you avoid a lot of tough discussions and criticism within the company. This is often easier than arguing for a solution that the CEO and the rest of the board might not like, but that you think has a better chance towards the end consumer. But it takes a strong and confident marketing professional to stand up to the internal heat…
The road to salvation is focusing on marketing accountability and the tools marketers can use to test the solutions on the end users (I still don’t have figured out why many creative agencies hates user testing…). I had the pleasure of being able to present, through sales modeling, that for every unit (of a currency) we spend on different marketing campaigns we get three units back – which is directly connected to marketing campaign. Doing this makes it easier to prove the value of marketing in the one way that everyone in a company understands – increased sales! And proves that good marketing is an asset and not just a cost.
I think the lack of testing might be one reason why many marketing positions are not a part of the top executive group, while sales is. And even though there has been a shift during recent years to focus a lot more on marketing and accountability it looks like there still is to many marketers that uses the rest of the management group and the CEO as their test panel…
Exceptional article, I am viewing back often to search for improvements.
Thanks! I Hope… 🙂
Increasing sales is certainly an important end-result, but not the only one. There are other objectives – such as profitability (as pointed out by another reader of the posting), upgrading the image, modifying current perceptions of consumers / influencers which might impact image /sales, positioning / re-positioning the brand, selecting a growing segment to focus on instead of the current segment (which may not lead to current sales), modifying channels of distribution and so on.
Testing / modleing helps but not always – as the objective may not be sales. It is utopia if the relationship is as direct as one unit of marketing spend results in three units of sales, and the same is clearly demonstarable through research.
I have dealt with situations where the relationship is not clearly demonstrable and is a bit of a black box. What will help here is a period (say, a control period ) where some marketing initiatives are taken followed by another period where the same are not there. Admittedly this method is qualitative and the correlation not proven in a way acceptable to all. But the coincidence can be seen.
Prasad Vikrama Rao
I took this blog post and postet a question in the “Marketing Communication group” in LinkedIn. There has now been more than 30 comments about this and surly al do not agree. And I do agree with you and you comments, but I see them: All of them is ways (except profitability, where the problem is to measure it based on the marketing activity) to achieve that end goal – Sales. In the discussion on LinkedIn we agreed that for some organizations (political and others) it might not be sales in it true form, but changing behavior. Even though many of these also looks at money in the end: The Red Cross campaign is trying to get donations for their work. Stop smoking ads from governmental departments tries to make you stop smoking, not because it is good for you (only), but because it would help them cutting the health budget in the end.
Well, let me say this about that.
1. Sure, even in the corporate political minefield that you describe, keeping eyes on the prize is crucial.
1a) I worked in such an environment for 15 years at IBM, doing both inbound and outbound marketing on product lines that earned billions.
2. Sales, however, is not a very good goal for marketing, honestly.
2a. Profitability has to be the measure.
3. Also, you “sell short”(!) the “inbound” parts of marketing
Establishing value of features (not all benefits have value for all users)
There is far more to marketing (channels of distribution anyone) than ad agencies and customer messaging and promotions and etc. etc. etc.!
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