The Importance Of Holding Your Marketing Accountable To A Result

Robin Robins IT Marketing, MSP Marketing

The Importance Of Holding Your Marketing Accountable To A ResultIf I hear someone say their hope for marketing is “brand awareness” or to “get my name out there” one more time I’m gonna start a protest against slovenly, wasteful marketing. At least then I wouldn’t get my events shut down, but I digress…

To my point: Let’s suppose the “branding” folks managed an employee the same way they are suggesting you manage your marketing. The job description for “Bob” the employee would look something like this:

“Bob, your job is to get our name out there and make sure you are making people aware of our brand. Since we have no way of measuring just how effective you are, you won’t be subject to any regular meetings or reviews and you won’t have any strict hours. You can come and go as you please. Just as long as you come back once in a while and give us some assurance that you are, in some manner, shouting our name to the world, we’re all good and will continue to pay you. No one will monitor your performance. No one will attempt to measure your effectiveness or the impact you’re having on the organization. No one will look at your productivity, and we won’t tie you to specific leads, clients and sales coming in the door. We’ll just assume it’s working. Every couple of months we’ll look to see if sales have gone up. If they have, you’ll get all the credit. To assist you in this effort, we’ll give you a very hefty budget so you look your professional best. After all, we want to win the popularity contest and receive useless awards for our “creativity” or our cleverness. In fact, we’d like you to be vague, cute and clever. You’ll be dressed in the finest suits and given a Bentley to drive around in. You’ll eat at the finest restaurants, wining and dining whomever will listen to your message. Your expense account won’t be beholden to any particular type of client, but if we get enough people liking the experience, you’ll continue to be paid. If we don’t get enough sales, you can just blame the economy, the competition, who’s in the White House or any other outside factor.”

Laugh if you will, but that’s how a lot of companies manage their marketing efforts. My rule has been never to invest a marketing dollar that cannot be directly and accurately tracked back to generating a lead, a customer or a sale. Simple. That’s why my marketing is so shocking to many when they first see it; the word they use is “direct” if they’re kind, “aggressive” if they’re not.

That’s because the marketing I’m giving you IS designed to do one thing: GENERATE A RESPONSE. To bring in an interested, qualified client and to ASSIST you in making the sales process easier by preselling and prequalifying them. To do this requires directness. Click here. Download this today. Schedule your appointment now. Straightforward, benefit- and offer-based marketing that enunciates a clear, compelling reason to engage with you right now. Not vague. Not cute. “Getting my name out there” is a happy by-product, but not the main goal.

If you have marketing and salespeople working for you, they MUST be accountable for implementing campaigns that generate results as well. If they can’t or won’t, fire them. Now that I’ve clarified this, let me provide a few nuanced and important points about holding your marketing accountable to a return.

1.Not all marketing dollars return the same day or the same month.

You have to play the long game to win in business. If you require every dollar to come back in the same week or the same month it was spent, you’re going to severely limit your ability to get clients and you’ll have stunted growth. It often takes us three to six months before we see the actual return on our marketing spend, even longer to reap the full benefit of the clients a marketing campaign brought. (Tip: This is why you monitor leading indicators; I can tell the return early on and make adjustments accordingly.) Most people who say they “can’t afford” to spend money on marketing are facing cash-flow issues, not marketing issues; they cannot wait out the return and therefore don’t spend the money. This limitation of funds does stunt your growth. The solution is to spend as much as you can, make sure you do marketing correctly, following every step, every detail, so you get the best possible return (ZERO sloppiness); then, once you get a return, send that same dollar back out to bring you more clients. It will be SLOWER but will get you marching in the right direction. BUT PLEASE ALLOW ME TO BE CLEAR: The marketing campaign doesn’t STOP once the leads come in and the cream is skimmed from the top. As you know, not all leads are ready to buy the minute they come in. They need to be nurtured and followed up on, and if you’re not willing to see a campaign all the way through, you won’t get the return you need.

2. Some marketing may not be *directly* tied to bringing in a sale or a new client, but it should be very, very limited.

Business cards, logo shirts, folders to hold marketing materials in, letterhead, logo design, etc., are all, I would argue, marketing items worth spending money on. Obviously a logo shirt is hard to directly tie a marketing return to, but overall it can help in preventing a tech or sales rep from ruining an opportunity or alienating a client due to sloppy, inappropriate dress. In this category, spend judiciously. Further, some marketing can be difficult to directly measure contribution to, such as drip marketing campaigns.

If you start sending out a print newsletter today, you might not see an instantaneous and dramatic uptick in referrals, sales appointments and leads, but when you STOP sending it, you might discover you don’t get as many referrals, sales and leads. For us, the weekly-content e-mails don’t directly generate a lot of leads (they’re not designed to), but when we stop sending them, the overall effect is a downtick in results across the board.

So, before you decide to be “cheap” or lazy about drip marketing, know that this will have a negative impact on your results. It might not happen the first month, it may not even show up for a few months, but show it will (if you’re paying attention). I know of magazines that decided to cease the print version to go exclusively online, thinking the cost wasn’t worth the benefit, only to discover paying subscribers and subsequent advertisers leaving in droves, and only to return to a print version after much damage was done to their lists. Bottom line: some marketing efforts have to be measured by the overall impact. I’ll give you one more example…

When our telemarketing team is making calls to fill events, they often reach only about 25% of the audience and DIRECTLY generate about a 5% registration rate overall on the lists they call. However, the calls and leaving of messages DO lift all other marketing “boats” we’re sending out, from e-mails to direct mail, social media campaigns, etc. The weeks they’re making calls often have a five to seven times increase in registrations, even without the sales reps directly registering people. Yes, I can attribute a direct number of ticket sales to them, but their impact is greater than just the direct results they produce. I know this because I’m paying attention to the micro and the macro impact of the marketing.

3. Have proper expectations for your marketing team.

This is another “accountability in marketing” mistake I see. Business owner buys the Toolkit and hands it over to a junior marketing admin to implement with no direction, no management, no real budget. Complete abdication, not delegation. They’re given a quota of leads to generate. Then they are told THEY have to make cold calls and follow-ups because there’s no budget for a salesperson/appointment setter. This, folks, is a recipe for DISASTER. Either they will quit or you’ll end up firing them for non-performance. If you want to hire someone you can give a quota to, you need to hire a seasoned CMO or CRO (chief revenue officer) who has direct experience in generating growth. They will need to be given a good-sized budget and a team to work with. They will also require a six-figure salary. This is not reasonable for most of the smaller businesses reading this, so my advice is YOU own the results and hire a marketing admin to assist in the detailed administrative work that needs to be done – but YOU are responsible for watching over the campaigns, making decisions, ensuring there’s a return, ensuring leads are followed up on and their work is done correctly.

One more question I frequently get that is tied to this question of marketing accountability: “What percentage of sales should I allocate to my marketing budget?”

This is the absolute WRONG question to ask altogether. First of all, what does gross revenue have to do with marketing spend? Shouldn’t it be based on what you CAN afford to get a customer, or what a customer is worth? Or perhaps the sales goals you’re trying to achieve? Or based on what it cost to acquire a customer, then worked backward to what you have to charge (price) so that you have sufficient margin to invest in marketing?

Further, the whole idea of a marketing budget is idiotic. If you had a “machine” in your business that you fed a quarter into and it spit out a dollar bill on the other end, you should be feeding that machine with as many coins as you can get your hands on until it no longer delivers a return. As I’ve already established, you shouldn’t be spending money on ANY marketing that doesn’t deliver a return.


Do you know EXACTLY how much you should be spending on marketing? Believe it or not there is a way to determine if you are spending too much or too little on marketing. Check out my latest video blog and download my Cost Per Lead Calculator for FREE.  Click here to watch now.