If you can do one thing with your marketing to make a lasting difference in your ability to influence the business, you need to change what you are measuring. – Samantha Stone
You’ve probably figured that out by now, but measuring open rates and creating fancy marketing dashboards will only get you this far. If you really want to have a positive impact on your business (and grow your career), you need to go deeper.
The real value lies in being able to make informed decisions based on meaningful data and communicating the far-reaching implications of marketing to your CFO and management team.
These concepts are at the heart of a MarketingProfs masterclass, “A Marketer’s Guide to Setting and Measuring Financial Goals,” starting May 11th with veteran instructor Samantha Stone.
Stone, the author of Unleash Possible: A Marketing Playbook That Increases Sales, is a Sales Catalyst, B2B Marketing Strategist, Researcher, Speaker, Consultant, and Persona Coach. She is also the founder of the Marketing Advisory Network, which helps business leaders develop what is possible in their company.
We recently spoke with Stone about the importance of aligning marketing with business goals by setting and measuring financial goals.
MarketingProfs: How important is it for marketers to align with the business and its sales goals?
Stone: If you can do one thing with your marketing to make a lasting difference in your ability to influence the business, you need to change what you are measuring. If we measure the right kinds of things, even if that measurement is difficult, manual, and may not be perfect. When we focus on the right business goals, an environment is created in which marketing is free to make right decisions for the company and not pursue ineffective metrics.
MarketingProfs: How can marketers move from measuring marketing activity to showing their true value to a company?
Stone: It’s easier than we think, but we’re a little scared of it. Many years ago I worked for a software company and marketing was measured by the things you would expect: number of leads in and pipeline contribution.
We had done a whole lot of analysis beyond those two measurements to see what kinds of things were influencing the growth of the business – what actually put it in an actual pipeline after the first meeting, what moved from the pipeline to customers. Even so, we were held accountable for the lead number.
One day the company’s CEO came into my office and said, “I want you to be responsible for the sales number, with sales close by and win rate.” And I thought, “No way, man. I won’t be responsible for what the sales do. You’re crazy.”
I sat down and made all these arguments about why this wasn’t the right thing to do. He smiled, he left my office and I thought, “OK. I’m going to take a deep breath and let me think about what’s right.”
MarketingProfs: And what was your conclusion?
Stone: After taking such deep breaths, I realized, “You know what? You’re absolutely right. If I actually share these goals with my sales reps, we’re totally focused on what we’re trying to do. That can mean I’m delivering fewer leads, but I’m more directly related to business. It gives me the freedom to make different decisions than I could have made if I had been held accountable for just a league goal, just a marketing contribution goal. “
And it turned out to be true.
Since that really difficult conversation, I’ve taken a step back and developed measurement systems that allow us to keep pace with the company’s goals. The revenue pipeline is one of those goals. It’s not the only thing we measure other things as well, but it’s vital if we are to be the best partners we can be for the company as a whole and certainly for our sales team.
MarketingProfs: And how do you go about being an important partner for your financial colleagues?
Stone: To be able to attend a board meeting or board meeting, even sit down with the head of accounting or your CFO who will be drawing up your budgets for the next year and have a direct line between the activities we want to fund and The Outcome that you will likely have in business – it changes the conversation immensely. It gets a lot more strategic.
Also, it gives marketers a degree of flexibility so that we can experiment, and not just do the same things that we know will predictably deliver X, because we have the flexibility to do things when that turns out to be Business changes Your audience changes when the effectiveness of individual programs changes.
Gaining the right to these strategic and flexible marketing approaches – it really is a release for a marketing team. It gives us so much more right and confidence to be able to do the things we have to do every day.
MarketingProfs: The marketer’s life is busy right now. Why should you take the time to attend this new master class?
Stone: I believe this at my core: if there is only one thing we can change that will affect the outcome of our marketing program, it is to change what we measure. I’ve seen it over and over again. In the course we talk about many examples where this change has had a significant impact on what marketing can do for the company.
Also, the best thing about the Master Class format is that each section is modular. You learn in bite-sized pieces. You can come in and check at your convenience. You can break up and look at a specific piece that is important to you.
I hope people find it very practical and also very inspiring to use, to give them the confidence to go into their CFO or CMO’s office, sometimes even their CEO or board of directors, and feel confident about doing that Types of goals and metrics to present that they know will make a world of difference, and knowing that there is research and data behind why those things are chosen.
MarketingProfs: Are there any other takeaways that you hope attendees will get?
Stone: I hope they build a little bit of confidence in data that isn’t purely automated. Good measurement systems use technology to get as much insight as possible, but we still need some ways to do a manual vote and I don’t want people to be scared of it.
And I hope this course will inspire people, regardless of their background, not to be afraid to measure the things that will really matter to them, even if it is not a perfect science.
MarketingProfs: It’s great to let people know that no matter where they are in their journey and career, they will make something of it.
Stone: Yes. I really think so. Ultimately, we all want to do a good job that makes a difference, and the only way to know the work makes a difference is to build measurement systems that are interrelated with the work we do on business goals, and also knowing which things to measure and which not.
I hope this course will help people really figure out how to build these systems, what they are presenting from a senior management standpoint, and then what they are going to use them for in their own daily marketing decision making processes.
Also, the course is available on request, but we also have the option of hosting live watch parties. I really hope to see a lot of people there as I will be live in these sessions answering certain questions that people may have in order to apply these lessons in their specific organization. I hope people will take this opportunity.
Find out more about the start of the master class on May 11th and register here.
Other MarketingProfs master classes
SEO for (Non-Techie) Marketers: The Art of Being Found
Marketing strategy: Find a sustainable, differentiated advantage
Customer Journey Maps for Marketers: Understanding and Exceeding Expectations