I’m often asked why a company or community should invest precious dollars in advertising or other marketing communication efforts. “Which tactics work?” “What’s my return on investment?” “How can I convince my boss to spend the money?” “When is the right time to get started?” These are questions that every marketer is asked at some point in his or her career.
Which tactics work?
Whenever a company or community launches an advertising program, it’s important to first have a realistic set of expectations. While advertisements sometimes generate immediate response, it’s more common that the response comes later. Powerful and sustainable efforts take time and patience.
The answer to the question is that all tactics work if they are parts of a well thought out strategic plan. Working in unison, ads, direct marketing, social media and other tactics work to grow a brand and fuel success. The old days of running an ad and counting calls are over.
What’s my return on investment?
I’ve been asked this question countless times. Once, when I was delivering a marketing presentation, a CFO asked this very question. He was used to using accepted accounting metrics to calculate the ROI of invested dollars. The problem is that when it comes to marcom, the typical ROI metrics just don’t work. There are so many forces that can impact a program’s success, that it is unfair to apply traditionally accepted principles. The competence of a salesperson can make or break a perfectly qualified lead, as can such factors as pricing, reputation, etc. If your price is too high, a perfectly good opportunity may be lost. Is that a failure of the marketing communication program? Of course not.
A more realistic measure is Return on Objectives. At Brand Acceleration, we work with our clients to establish a set of clear objectives that are real and measurable. Maybe it’s a desire to generate a specific number of qualified leads or to grow brand awareness in a targeted industry. These are all things that can be measured and attributed to a marketing effort.
How can I convince my boss to spend the money?
The challenge is to manage expectations. If your boss wants to see a direct and immediate connection between communication spending and sales, he or she might be disappointed. Old school programs where you run an ad and then count responses are just unrealistic these days. A sale is an orchestrated and sustained effort between marketing communications, the sales department, pricing and management.
Your boss needs to understand the value of a strong brand. Companies or communities with highly respected reputations are proven to be much more likely to be given consideration than those of virtual unknowns. When a salesperson calls a prospect to ask for a meeting, he or she is much more likely to get in the door if the organization is known and has a positive reputation. A well thought out marcom program can pave the way.
When is the right time to get started?
Even though the economy is a long way from what we consider normal, there are significant signs that things are beginning to improve (See my “Good News” article at the right). To use an auto racing analogy, the green flag has been waved and it’s to put the pedal to the metal. Companies and communities are racing to get the business. It’s extremely competitive out there and if you’re not on the consideration list, you’re off – and out!
Staying with the auto racing analogy, now is the time to floor it! Otherwise you could find yourself being lapped by that newcomer you’ve never heard of.