Stepping out of my house yesterday morning, I observed a scene that could have been the set of a disaster movie. There were two police officers, a fire fighter crew, three people from the hydro company, a moving van driver, and a cat. There were also flashing lights, barricades, pylons and police tape. A quick visual survey of these surroundings brought me to the hypothesis that the large moving van with downed hydro lines draped over it was the cause of the ruckus. The moving van was very tall and had caught some low-hanging power lines, effectively knocking out the power to my house!
My neighbour saw the whole thing and called 911, who in turn called the police, the firefighters, and the hydro crew (no one knows who called the cat). I spent the next several hours engaging all of the above parties in productive conversations, along with my insurance company, the claims adjuster, contractors and an electrician. While they were all courteous professionals, they each had a different view on how to proceed; each one had a different boss to answer to and hence, a different set of priorities. This was frustrating, but also very interesting to me (and certainly not unusual). To some degree, all organizations experience this. While this group had been quickly assembled to deal with an emergency situation, it behaved as most organizations do… the primary concerns of the individuals involved were guided by their own self-interests. Success was achieved because the group was able to come together around common objectives to ultimately solve the problem. What does this have to do with marketing measurement? I thought you’d never ask! Some of the biggest factors in marketing success revolve around making sure everyone’s interests are aligned, and this is where the biggest benefits are realized. Aligning marketing’s objectives with the overall goals of the organization is critical to the success of marketing measurement efforts, and therefore, the success of the organization itself. Here are three steps to successful alignment of marketing’s measurement interests with those of the whole organization.
Organization-wide commitment to marketing measurement
There tend to be people in non-marketing roles that downplay the value of the department. A great way to dispel this misconception is by defining measurable marketing goals, and involving the entire organization in that process. Marketing needs support from every other department in order to be successful – that will only happen if everyone is on board and clearly understands how marketing success leads to company success. It sounds obvious to a marketer, but it isn’t always so cut-and-dry for others (especially given that data-driven marketing has been seen as highly cost-intensive and still is by many companies).
Marketing and company-wide commitment to a measurement methodology
If the marketing department unilaterally develops the approach to marketing measurement and the definition of success, others may think the approach is self-serving (meaning the methodology may be biased towards showing that the marketers are highly effective). By involving other departments and working towards aligning interests, the methodology will be more balanced and acceptance of the results will be far more likely. With measurable objectives, success is easier to define and more likely to be useful.
The organization and marketing decide together what to measure
Marketing’s purpose is to acquire and retain customers who create value for the entire organization. This means you need to understand from each key department how value, high value customers, and profitable customer behaviour are defined. Only once you understand these values completely can you determine the KPIs (key performance indicators) that make sense to include in your measurement methodology. Select metrics that matter to all aspects of the organization, and you will find it much easier to get the data and support you need across the company. Every member of an organization has a role to play. Each one has their own priorities and biases, as we’ve seen. Effective organizations find and focus on the common objectives, even amongst seemingly competing interests. One of the most important benefits of setting measurable marketing objectives and defining success against them is that in order to do it properly, those objectives need to align the organization. When the pieces of an organization are aligned in their objectives, everyone stands to reap the rewards.
Rick Shea is President of Optiv8 Consulting, a marketing effectiveness consultancy with a focus on helping small to mid-sized organizations measure their marketing so they can stop wasting money.