Are you measuring marketing’s activities or its impact on growth?

Recently, I had a meeting with a talented Chief Marketing Officer at a strategy-consulting firm. The subject of the discussion was the integration of marketing and business development. When I asked how his marketing team’s goals were aligned with business development and revenue generation, he admitted that they were not directly tied. He did take pride in the fact that he felt he had made immense progress in aligning marketing goals over his previous firm (a large accounting firm).  He went on to humorously describe how one of his senior marketers at the earlier firm, working directly with practice leadership, developed the remarkable marketing objective of producing five pieces of collateral for the year.

I share this story because it reflects the majority of professional services firms and the trivial goals set for marketing teams. This often happens because of precedent, low expectations, skill gaps or ignorance. If this sounds like your firm, something needs to change for your firm to reach its potential.

RELATED: What is Marketing’s Role?

It seems obvious, but Marketing’s goals and metrics should be aligned with both firm-wide strategic goals.

Strategic marketing objectives should reflect strategic impact. Most firms default to the cheapest, most visible and simple overall metrics for measuring marketing (headcount, costs, activities, AND collateral). Partners and their Marketing support should not be overly focused on open rates, click-throughs, and webinar attendee numbers. These measures have their place, but are incomplete, taking the focus off of what is really important, setting the wrong expectations and leading to erroneous decisions.

Instead, partners should be asking for revenue- and growth-oriented metrics. I recommend a new list of performance measures for your Marketing team.  If you don’t feel you can measure and reward these, then you may soon need to make people, strategy and/or infrastructure changes.

Here are several marketing performance measures that align marketing and partner goals:

Marketing-qualified leads: The number of leads generated by Marketing that meet a Sales-agreed-to set of qualification criteria (e.g. individuals who demonstrate both the intent and the capacity to make a buying decision in a reasonable timeframe.)  This should be Marketing’s primary metric and all other metrics should be supporting it. GOAL: Deliver the requisite number of leads to achieve growth objectives.

Brand relevance:  A measure of your firm’s/brand’s credibility, visibility, and consideration vis-a-vis the competition in the markets in which you compete.  GOAL: You should be moving to the top of the list.

Prospect engagement: A measure of a prospect’s overall interactivity with your firm through marketing channels including website visits, time spent on a website, pages viewed, site logins, email list growth, blog comments, event attendance, etc.  GOAL: You should be tracking, learning and adjusting your approaches throughout the year to maximize the level of engagement.

Velocity:  The amount of time it takes a prospect to move through the sales funnel from initial engagement until close. GOAL: The faster the better, but your firm should set the optimal time for your culture and brand.

Pipeline contribution:  The dollars of potential revenue contributed by marketing-qualified leads. SiriusDecisions estimates that the buyer’s journey is 70% complete by the time a sales person is contacted. GOAL: This number should have a baseline and increase from there.

Size of prospect database size:  The total number of prospects in the firm’s marketing database. This number is important because it measures your ability to communicate with prospects at the top of the funnel. GOAL: Increase the number of ideal client buyers.

Net Promoter Score:  This client loyalty metric is based on your client’s answer to the question, “How likely are you to refer us to a friend or colleague?”  Referrals are the most cost-effective lead generator. Net Promoter is a key indicator of the health of your referral engine. GOAL: Your firm should be at the head of your competitive class.

 

Takeaway

Some of these metrics may be new to you or seem impossible to measure. You do not need all of them to see a fundamental shift in your marketing performance. It is important to get started with small steps. Pick one or two to change the focus and expectations of Marketing.  To get started:

1. Establish targets and ROI estimates up-front

2. Design marketing programs to be measurable (e.g. clear calls to action)

3. Focus on learning and continuous improvement.

It is important to understand that none of these metrics will have an impact without support from the leadership. That means that management is using these metrics to manage and invest in the business.  In addition, the metrics must become the measure of the Marketing team’s success, compensation, and rewards. When done right, the metrics will create a virtuous cycle of learning and
 more actionable metrics that benefit the entire firm. Just ask the talented CMO above. Get moving.

Be prudent.

 

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