In this conversation, Jeff Julian and Vishal Khanna discuss the need to grow as marketers and ways to consider the different approaches from different trades for becoming better at what we do.Read More
Though we as marketers intuitively know some projects are more worthwhile than others, we can miss the opportunity to do something about the obvious: not all marketing activities and deliverables are equal. It’s what we choose to do with that knowledge that can change our teams from producers who merely get stuff done to marketers who get the right stuff done to create valuable deliverables with effective outcomes.
Ask your team this question: “How consistently do we create deliverables that have a significant impact on the business?” The answers will inform both the team and your leadership about the prioritization of marketing efforts and the metrics by which your team is measured. It is when a marketing team’s work has a rubric to determine value, not just effort, that’s when the dynamic changes from more deliverables to better deliverables.
So, how does your marketing team determine the value of your work? That’s the question, and the answer might be a revelation for your marketing team to discuss and apply.
The Paradox of Getting Work Done
Content marketing. Account-based marketing. Marketing automation. Full-stack marketing. Your team has grown to include specialists who can cross-train and help other team members out precisely because the demands have increased. And it’s not just Sales screaming for more of everything; it’s Operations and HR and Finance, too. Lead generation? Yeah, that represents only a portion of your team’s marketing activity. But it’s the thing your team is likely measured on more than anything else. Isn’t it strange how the requirements have diversified but the expectations remain pretty much the same?
How is your team dealing with this duality? When was the last time your marketing team set aside a large chunk of time - perhaps two to three days - to evaluate the outcomes from all of your activities and deliverables in comparison to the time, resources, and money spent to produce those outputs?
Yeah, I didn’t think you’d had two to three days to do that, either. Chances are, your marketing team hasn’t been given permission to slow down and evaluate amidst the clamor for ‘more, faster.’
New Metrics, New Barometer
I'm all for getting work done. I'm simply asking how your team knows if they’re doing the right work? Says who? By what quantitative or qualitative KPI?
Your team likely needs a Marketing Barometer.
Delivering value is 'knowable' via a barometer rather than a thermometer.
Lest we get too geeky about this simile, allow me to break it down.
A thermometer provides a specific metric about the temperature in a specific location at a specific point in time. A lot of marketing metrics are like a thermometer: they tell us what happened, but usually not why it happened or if it is likely to happen again.
A barometer does provide a data point of a particular location at a particular time, but the point of the device is to view data points over time. The analysis of these data points is calculated to determine the direction of change and the rate of change in that direction. It's less precise than unique point-in-time metrics, but it does have the value of being a good indicator of trends.
Like a physical barometer, which measures change in atmospheric pressure, a marketing barometer measures both the direction of change (more like this, less like that) and the rate of change (how much like this, how little like that).
I submit that the qualitative and quantitative data points (defined metrics against organizational goals and objectives) should look for outcomes over outputs. Getting the work done should always be in question, but not just about the throughput (velocity) of work, but in terms of quality of the deliverables and if they added value to achieve business goals. Iterating on the wrong things, at an ever-increasing output, isn't successful marketing.
Holy KPIs, Batman!
In my experience, most articles and blogs ranting about marketing KPIs are typically focused on measuring the lateral activity of marketing teams instead of the focused outcomes to move the business forward. It’s like an American football team running a double-reverse play that has a lot of activity moving side-to-side, but unless they get down the field further, it’s not particularly effective or valuable.
What your marketing team needs are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that actually align with the key objectives of the business instead of merely pointing at marketing team activity metrics! Lots of click-throughs? That isn’t a valuable metric unless it is further tied to form completions or pre-sales activities or higher levels of customer engagement. The KPIs I’m referring to here are not boilerplate: they are unique to your business and are directly tied to the goals of the organization, not just the goals of your marketing department.
For example, are the KPIs for your marketing team measured mostly against marketing activity, Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), and ad spend? Ask your team this question: “Is our work directly moving the business/organization forward? Or are we punting on first down more often than not and hoping for great coverage by Sales?”
A marketing barometer has metrics unique to your team and your business. They should reveal how you track not only conversion rates, but a scoring/rating system to determine how well a deliverable performs in comparison to other deliverables. By keeping track of the time/effort/resources spent on various deliverables, your team can not only track the performance of the output, but the value of work-effort-to-output ratio. In other words, your KPIs need to do more than show activity; they need to show value both for your team and from your team as it relates to moving the business forward.
When you look at your team’s current goals, KPIs, and metrics, how can you determine value from and for your team? When your marketing teams can answer these questions, you’ll discover the kind of marketing barometer you need to deliver more value.