Effective Marketing Metrics and a Passport to the Boardroom
How strategic use of full-funnel performance metrics integrates marketing with business leadership
To take a leadership role, successful CMOs need to cultivate a 'growth mindset' - and that means embracing the full scope of a business. If your dashboard focuses simply on campaign performance, you may need to think again.
Reframe the Role
Kimberley A Whitler is a former General Manager and CMO who now works at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. The performance of Marketing in the overall business environment was a personal issue for her.
In 2018 she ran an analysis of LinkedIn data to calculate the percentage of Marketing alumni at major MNCs that had gone on to earn a CEO role.
The top performer was P&G, with 20% of CEOs with marketing experience celebrating a background in the market leading FMCG company. Other companies like Yum! And Pepsico also ranked highly.
But it rather begs the question… where did all the other marketers go?
As long ago as 1965 Peter Drucker (in ‘The Practice of Management’) reframed the purpose of a business:
“There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.”
It moved marketing skills front and centre:
“Because it is the purpose to create a customer, any business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. These are the entrepreneurial functions. Marketing is the distinguishing, the unique function of the business.”
Surely we’d expect CEO roles to be dominated by folks from the marketing side of the business?
Getting it right leverages a six step process:
- Recognise the challenge
- Understand the threat
- Embrace the opportunity
- Adopt a growth mindset
- Build a foundation
- Refine the roles
Recognise the Challenge
The data suggested that somehow marketing departments were getting it wrong: they were failing to deliver the mindset, skills, capability and business acumen to reach to the top of the tree.
In classic marketing theory, there’s no need for a shortfall: in The Marketing Mix – the most popular framework for describing roles and responsibilities – the 4 ‘P’s covers a broad range of business responsibility:
But a poll of departmental responsibilities sees a significant reduction in the actual remit of people in marketing roles, and an inversion in prioritisation of activity.
The majority of marketers were simply running campaigns.
Loosely marketers broke down into 3 key areas:
- 46% of respondents (the largest proportion of CMOs) were relegated to ‘commercial’ roles. These roles focused on communications objectives around advertising, content, social media, promotions and events. Even in the best light, these covered only a fraction of the ‘promotional’ responsibilities and neglected other critical needs.
- 31% of respondents (the next highest proportion of CMOs) took on a portfolio including customer insights, analysis, innovation, product design and growth. These represented more strategic influences within the organisation but fell short of owning the value chain.
- Only 23% of respondents could lay claim to the ‘full stack’, taking ultimate responsibility for recognising and acting on market opportunities, creating execution strategies, and seeing it through to conclusion.
Understand the Threat
Conflicts between business requirements, talent capability and operational responsibilities creates an uncomfortable environment for working professionals.
The typical outcome of such a scenario is unhappy talent, and a lack of confidence with the performance of the marketing team that bleeds across the organisation.
Unhappy talent undermines job satisfaction, and from the moment the new employee takes their role, the clock starts ticking on departure.
The argument is supported by the data:
In a snapshot of Marketing professionals in 2017, Whitley revealed that 40% of practitioners in CMO roles had been in place less than 2 years.
It goes without saying that unclear objectives and high staff turnover is a recipe for departmental failure.
Addressing this issue becomes critical to success.
Embrace the Opportunity
It’s tempting to lay the blame for this situation at the door of the CEO.
However, the CEO is part of a team that co-ordinates activity for best results on the advice of their senior practitioners.
It’s not the CEO who failed the marketing department: it’s up to the marketing leadership to recognise the strategic vacuum, the business opportunity and capitalise upon it.
Adopt a Growth Mindset
Taking a senior role in business growth, organisational strategy and execution requires much more than a dashboard of useful figures.
Success lies in analysis, identification of opportunities, prioritisation and the creation of operational and executional roadmaps.
In other words, it’s not just “here’s where we are”, it’s also “and this is what we’re going to do about it”.
Whilst we know that “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”, the corollary is that if you want to manage it, everything starts with measurement.
Needs vary across the organisation, so effective use of time means recognition of the role of individuals, and their personal priorities within them.
Try breaking down the roles into broad categories and identifying the key objectives.
- C-Suite practitioners focus on revenue growth, market share, reduction in costs and maximisation of profit.
- Strategic management focus on business opportunities, product, supply chains, distribution, departmental performance and return on investment.
- Commercial teams focus on operational factors like consumer engagement, customer experience, campaign activity and performance optimisation.
Establishing authority and credibility amongst these teams means not just demonstrating that you understand their needs, but proving how marketing activities can implement activity that affects them in a positive way.
Successful marketing dashboards will need to focus on metrics that match key objectives and will emphasise change and deliver benefits.
Build a Foundation
Both the business environment and marketing opportunities are volatile. Needs will change rapidly as the business progresses.
Building both a foundation for measurement, and regular reviews and optimisation are all part of the marketing process.
Having created the three 'meta categories' of practitioners that deliver business results, try breaking the roles down by identifying the key metrics that track delivery.
For each category, specify:
- Key roles
- Headline metrics that define success
- Performance metrics that reveal key contributing factors
- Operational metrics that maintain business process
Work closely with individual departments to integrate their own priorities and refine these down into a few key metrics that practitoners will instantly recognise and leverage to create a sense of achievement.
Commit yourself to identifying how this data can be sourced, and how to illustrate it in simple visual ways.
Refine the Roles
Aligning the organisational roles with the metrics you've established and communicating them to team members is the final part of the puzzle.
- Functional responsibility
- Budgetary goals
- Headline metrics
- Performance outcomes
- Project outcomes
- Management outcomes like staff satisfaction and performance
- Key milestones
Detailing the expectations in quantitative (numeric) terms is the shortcut to delivery.
Finally, remember that there is no obligation for any other colleague to deliver on this exercise.
You will rarely need permission to take a few hours to step away from the day-to-day management of business issues to address where you currently stand, and where you would like to add more value.
There's no time like the present!