When people ask me what I do and I tell them I’m a Digital Marketer, I almost always see a giant (invisible) question mark pop over their heads. I consider this funny because I imagine lining up everyone with whom I get to share my day-to-day routine at work and they go, ‘this is beyond me girl. Just do your magic! This all sounds like great stuff but too much…’
I’ve had a couple of great opportunities this year to work on digital and content marketing programs for clients in the financial sector. Not coming from a finance background myself, I had to take a deep dive crash course on everything finance. When you have fintech, stocks, bonds, investment products and banking for breakfast, I quite literally came close to wanting to bury my head in the sand somewhere. On a few occasions, I feared my head would explode. But just like those folks for whom I drew a huge red (invisible) question mark for earlier… that was me these last two weeks.
If you’re one of the few who agree that marketing entails both investment and risk then we’re on the same page. I’m not about to go on a diatribe here to convince you otherwise. The ideal scenario would be to witness phenomenal growth in business without the exhorbitant hourly rates and ad budgets. I’ve yet to count with my two hands, throughout my 23 years of working, startups and businesses that didn’t experience the ‘pain’ of investing in a new marketing program in one way or another.
Marketing is an Investment
Since we all agree that marketing is needed to spur growth, why do marketers (digital or not) find themselves stuck when justifying marketing budgets and whether this gets cut further this quarter or the next?
Here are a number of questions I start with when I assess the right ‘fit’ with our clients.
What does a successful investment look like?
What’s your investment approach and strategy?
What results are you focused on achieving first and foremost?
What level of risk are you willing to take?
At what point would you pull the plug?
Tracking performance and actual costs is no longer just a dream. There are many — over 5,000 marketing technology solutions in the market today that allow businesses of all sizes to measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns in real time. It’s unacceptable to come back and report vaguely on marketing performance when you can go deeper into a certain data point to get a better view, in one click or a swipe.
1. Know your investment goal. Don’t start and end your marketing plan with motherhood statements and vague commitments. Document specific tactics and a set of key performance indicators and milestones to help steer you in the right direction. KPIs will guide your decision-making along the way. In some cases, you’d need to consult with advisors who not only know but understand your industry, your type of business or your situation, but can also share insights on how to best go forward.
2. Diversify. Spread your investment across multiple channels where your customers are present. If you decide to focus a big chunk of your budget to only one channel, you are assuming a bigger risk if this channel doesn’t work. Be careful not to spread yourself too thin by being a mile wide and an inch deep. Pick the channels that best communicate and reach your target audience.
3. Quantify. If there was one thing that you would like to attribute to your marketing success this year, what would this be?
- What metrics are you monitoring and why?
- How does managing these metrics help you determine the health of your funnel?
- Do you measure the value of your funnel in terms of cost per lead and cost per sale?
- What is your marketing program’s profit and revenue contribution?
When quantifying results, make sure that you’re able to course-correct as and when critically needed.
Oftentimes re-evaluating the program’s effectiveness and adjusting your course will do you more good than harm. Look for steady signs but don’t alter courses prematurely just because you can’t wait. Go back to #1. “You can’t measure ROI if you don’t quantify.”
4. Watch and See What Happens. Most marketers don’t have patience for this. My recipe for keeping things simple: Plan for short-term wins, manage mid-term results, invest in long-term success. There is no guarantee that all your marketing programs will meet your desired results all the time, but you can take the path that leads to better and better results, over time.
5. Optimize. Once you’ve carefully assessed the performance of various channels and made a case for effectiveness, build on the success and replicate. As you optimize for continuous success, the blind spots get much fewer and far between.
Just like investing, marketing takes an awful lot of careful studying and attention. Investors are like marketers in that they know where to look, what to look for, how much of a calculated risk they are willing to take and what losses they are able to bear or bite. The successful marketer, just like the successful investor has learned the right strategies that make their investment portfolio grow exponentially and their future rewards sweet.