The truism that every business needs marketing cannot be denied, even by businesses that owe the majority of their growth to word-of-mouth referrals. However, confusion arises when businesses mistake marketing for sales. In simple terms, marketing builds demand; sales closes the deal.
The goal of marketing is to increase sales and, by perforce, grow revenue. The trick is in measuring the success of your marketing efforts. What metrics do you use to measure marketing effectiveness? Although profit is the ultimate goal, it’s not the sole measurement of success. Other benchmarks along the way indicate the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
Many vehicles travel the meandering road of marketing. These vehicles include content marketing, brand awareness, advertisements, customer engagement, quality of leads, social media, and more. Once you identify what to measure, you must understand how to measure them and decide upon the benchmarks that indicate progress or success. Bizible states, “Measurement encompasses the right technology and reporting processes. Tracking, attribution, and budget/resource management are all necessary for measuring marketing in a way that feeds well into the planning process.” Knowing what to measure, how to measure it, and the meaning of the results helps determine ROI. When the ROI has been deemed of sufficient value–another decision you must make–then you’re ready to decide whether: 1) to continue the effort; 2) to revise and continue the effort; or, 3) to scrap the effort.
Proper performance assessment begins with advance preparation. Launching a marketing initiative without thinking it through reduces the chance of success. Preparatory activities include understanding the current market and what it can deliver and its priorities; determining whether the market’s priorities align with your corporate goals; setting up your marketing priorities to align with your corporate goals; creating plans for implementation; including periodic reviews to measure performance; and, assessing budgets and risks. Continual monitoring helps to maintain the desired direction and alerts you when the program goes off track or encountered obstacles that require diversion or redirection.
When assessing risk to resources, figure out how much you can bear to lose. Nothing in business comes without risk. Risk entails more than the hard dollars going out to pay for advertising, it also encompasses possible negative feedback from a misjudged audience. Put simply, don’t insult your audience and know that if something can be misunderstood, it will be.
Although marketing and sales differ, they must be aligned. In short, effective marketing generates sales. Put your sales and marketing teams together to qualify favorable attributes that the business wants repeated: for example, deal size, velocity, product mix, etc. Plot and analyze current market patterns for trends that will guide your company’s marketing decisions. Use the data to develop an effective strategy, and then execute that strategy.
The campaigns that your audience sees is the result of all that advance preparation and analysis. From the one-man-shop to the multinational conglomerate, effective marketing follows the same basic process, which all begins with an accurate assessment of current market conditions, the company’s marketing goals, and a picture of success. Just remember, you can identify an unserved or underserved niche; however, it you can’t build demand, then no one will buy.