Can You Prove the Value of Marketing to the C-suite?
[For the December cover story, Target Marketing asked a field of marketing experts the top four questions facing marketers in 2015. This is the first question in the series.]
One of the biggest advantages of direct marketing has always been that it's highly accountable. You spend the money to create a campaign (whether via direct mail, email, telephone, pay-per-click ads, or what have you), and you can see clearly how that converts and how those conversions lead to sales, revenue and an impact on your bottom line.
Now executives are expecting that level of accountability from the entire marketing department, often with an eye toward short-term returns, and that's been a challenge for many marketers.
"The most important question for marketers in 2015 is the same question from 2014: What is marketing going to do about revenue," asks Debbie Qaqish, principal and chief strategy officer of Atlanta-based demand generation and revenue marketing consultancy The Pedowitz Group.
"The pressure for marketing to demonstrate ROI and their direct impact on top-line revenue growth is enormous and continues to build," says Qaqish, also the author of the book "Rise of the Revenue Marketer." "Yet, many, if not most, marketers are still struggling with how to answer this question" to the satisfaction of company executives.
"We also still see marketing struggle with internal legitimacy as a business unit in the organization," she continues. "Marketing is still heavily viewed as the 'pens and mugs' or 'arts and crafts' department [to top executives]. Many marketing executives find it very difficult to change the perception of marketing as it relates to revenue. As one VP recently told me, 'I have a seat at the table, but I don't have a voice.'"
Changing that perception of marketing comes back to revenue responsibility.
"The most important question will be, 'Are our investments in marketing generating revenue?'" says Dan McDade, founder of Johns Creek, Ga.-based B-to-B prospect development company PointClear. PointClear recently published a whitepaper called "RING: Mind the Gap" that identifies the difference between desired revenue and expected revenue from new and ongoing inbound activities as "The Gap."