Brand Marketing has Left the Building

Last week I attended Marketo’s User Conference and I had a great time being elbow-to-elbow with 600 other hard-core marketing folk (if you don’t know them, Marketo provides a marketing automation tool that helps marketers automate lead generation campaigns).  One of the themes of the conference was around the transformation of marketing from a cost center to a revenue driver.  Phil Fernandez, Marketo’s CEO had this to say in a recent blog post:

In today’s “buyer’s in control” market, traditional marketing and sales approaches have become grossly inefficient and outdated. By relying on antiquated strategies and ineffective methods, organizations find that 80% of leads and 50% of the sales team time is wasted. This misalignment adds up quickly and creates significant revenue leaking points across the organization.

The solution to this “revenue leakage” requires a shift in thinking about marketing’s fundamental role in the business.  This shift moves marketing further and further away from doing more traditional “branding” style activities, toward campaigns and tactics where there is a direct line of sight to revenue.

Why is this shift from brand marketing to revenue marketing happening in the first place?

Digital makes measurement possible – Digital marketing has made it possible for marketers to measure more of what we do. 10 years ago when I was spending my money on print advertising, traditional PR and events it was hard to track the amount of revenue I influenced.  Because it was hard to measure we often allocated marketing spend across tactics based on anecdotal information.  We took a guess at what worked based on how many people we got in front of and not how many folks actually took action. Now for the majority of the tactics I run, I can tell you exactly what actions we drove in terms of numbers of clicks, form fills, opportunities and revenue. Using a tool like Marketo I can track which prospects received my emails, opened them, clicked on links, downloaded content, how many times they visited my website, what search terms they used to find my site and what they looked at once they got there.  And it’s not just me that can see that – my sales team can see it and use it to better prioritize what they are doing.  Why on earth would I want to spend money on tactics where I didn’t have that level of visibility into results?

Marketing is being asked to be more accountable – in my opinion, as digital marketing became more popular and executives began to see that it was possible to measure the results of these types of campaigns, it got people thinking about how they might measure everything else.  Historically most companies typically had two types of marketing programs they were running – lead generation programs that were measured in terms of pipeline generated and branding programs meant to drive awareness that were either not measured at all or measured in a way where it was impossible to attribute a shift in awareness to any single activity. Now, if you were a CEO and had to choose between spending money on things you knew were driving revenue and things you weren’t so sure about, which would you choose?  It’s no wonder we aren’t brand marketing like we used to.

Revenue and Respect for Marketing

One of my favorite quotes of the conference came from Jon Miller, Marketo’s VP of Marketing. In his talk he spoke about the respect and credibility he has earned from his executive team by being able to predict at the beginning of the quarter how much revenue he can drive by the end of the quarter.  He said,

Now when I show up at the executive meeting I’m not the arts and crafts guy, I’m the revenue guy

What do you think – are you still the arts and crafts person at your company?

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45 thoughts on “Brand Marketing has Left the Building”

  1. Certainly changes the rules for us marketing types. My view is that brand marketing still exists but in a radically different form and that it is becoming more inherently measurable. Blogs, Tweets, webinars, ebooks, et al are the new brand marketing – building that “community” – in place of the trade shows, print ads, etc.

    Trade shows, interestingly, are morphing into more measurable lead gen activities as they a) become less frequent, b) are attended by more focused attendees who are seeking you out and c) rely less on answering, “So what do you guys do?” or “Can have one of those cool tschotskes?”

    For a real eye-opener of a contrast, rent “Days of Wine and Roses” and watch the clip of Jack Lemmon trying to explain to his new father-in-law what he did in his PR job.

    Measurable things like leads, click-throughs, tweets, etc. are now the metrics for brands.

    Great post. As always.

    1. Thanks Tim,
      I agree that there are still tactics that I’m doing that might be described as more branding than lead generation but it is a dwindling list and you’re right -they are much more measurable than they were in the past. I’m still a fan of some types of traditional PR. I describe it as like caffeine in many medical drugs. It isn’t the active ingredient but it can make the active ingredient work better. But again, if I can’t measure it, I have a hard time justifying it in my budget.
      April

  2. Great post! I do find that it’s difficult for marketing to be taken seriously (particularly if your CEO is an analytical person) if you can’t back up your requests for budget with actual data that shows what you should be able to produce with that budget. I do not want to be the arts and crafts department!
    Emily

  3. Hi April – Great post! And I’m with you – love Jon Miller’s quote.

    I agree — being able to measure prospect behavior and engagement is empowering marketers in new ways. And thank goodness these measurement tools are available, now that marketing is often “in dialogue” with prospects farther into the buying cycle before handing off to sales.

    As far as the change in brand marketing — I would argue that brand marketing exists in a different form. In an earlier post, you define the 3 pillars of brand marketing:
    * Brand messaging and image – Articulating the “brand promise” and the image of what the brand means to customers.
    * Brand consistency – Making sure the logo, trademarks, branding elements (fonts, colors, etc.) were used consistently across product lines and across multiple marketing and communications tactics and channels.
    * Brand awareness and tracking – Make the market aware of the brand and track changes in how the brand is perceived by the market.

    In today’s hyper-connected and social-media-heavy world, it seems much of brand messaging and image is increasingly tied to/measured by how companies interact online with prospects and customers. David Meerman Scott is offering a free download of the first chapter of his new book: Real-Time Marketing & PR. Check out the story about how United Airlines failed to respond when a passenger had a baggage issue – even after that passenger’s story went viral because he took matters into his own hands by posting a video on YouTube. It’s hard to believe this didn’t have a negative impact on United’s brand. http://www.webinknow.com/2010/09/free-chapter-of-my-newest-and-most-important-book-.html

    Brand consistency now extends to how the company is being represented online by the various spokespeople (both official and unofficial). And brand awareness and tracking can now be measured with social-media monitoring tools.

    Obviously this only captures the online life of the brand, but it seems online is playing an increasingly important role.

    What do you think?

    Best,
    Stephanie

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      Great comment – thanks!
      The part I think that is really shifting is the part where we spend a lot of money on running tactics aimed only at shifting perception in a market (and not at driving revenue directly). Although I agree that companies have to monitor their brands and be consistent in their branding, I’m less of a believer in spending marketing budget on tactics that can’t be traced back to revenue.
      Using another David Meerman Scott example, I never saw a single quote from Stride gum on how much their sales were impacted by having their video of that guy dancing all over the world go viral. Although I thought the video was entertaining and it certainly got in front of many, many people, I don’t believe that most people associated it with Stride.
      April

  4. For technology marketers, and I would expect other b2b markets, branding is not important to buyers, and hence why it may be dying, according to recent research from Harte-Hanks. With two downturns in the past decade, buyers are focused on value and ROI, as Frugalnomics reigns. Buyers seek business partners who can help them do-more-with less, and as a result brand marketing is taking back seat to content marketing, interactive smart content and sales enablement:

    http://tompiselloroiguy.blogspot.com/2010/10/tech-marketers-may-need-to-rethink.html

  5. The growth of digital marketing and the evolution of internet marketing have certainly changed the world and how we conduct ourselves. I think it is making everyone more accountable for services generated. Brand marketing is still a important player within the digital evolution and will always have a important roll its a presentation kind of thing. Content is key.. but brand still has its place for sure.

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