AtTask-reconcile-marketing-activities-300x228Your CEO demands measurable outcomes and accountability from your marketing department. But this is a more layered and complex issue than assessed at first blush, and tackling it can be intimidating.

Historically, there has been a disconnection between marketing activities and business goals. Management may resist recognizing that marketing has a direct impact on the company’s performance. It may also appear that there are too many marketing initiatives and no one really understands how or which ones contribute to the bottom line. This can result, of course, in the right work—the work that can most improve the company’s bottom line—not always being the work getting done.

What to Do

So how do you align marketing activities with strategic business initiatives, effectively measure the outcomes, create accountability, and justify your marketing team’s actions to both CEOs and CFOs? First, recognize that this alignment is a continual process, not a one-time procedure. Here’s how to be sure your marketing and business strategies are aligned, and realigned again:

1. Know and understand the strategic goals.

This includes your entire organization. Strategic goals hang on the fundamental questions of where are we now, where should we go, and how should we get there? Looking to these directive questions, every organization must figure out what it wants to achieve and how their activities align with the overall strategic goals of the business.

Remember, strategy is fluid, continuous, and iterative. You must consider this when prioritizing marketing work requests, basing your efforts on the highest overall business return. No matter what your role at work, management or marketing, you always have more tasks than time—too much to do and too little time to do it. If you are not holding to a solid understanding of what work produces a return, it can be difficult to know where to start. You may start working on several tasks at the same time, which is frustrating and unproductive. Another risk when you don’t know how to prioritize properly is that you become deadline driven—focusing on the task that has the nearest upcoming deadline. As mentioned above, that may not be the right work that is most imperative to your company’s financial strength.

2. Create an internal measurement system.

It’s no secret that measuring performance should be a fundamental cornerstone of any marketing team. Any strategist will tell you that when a goal is identified, the likelihood of reaching that mark increases when activities are tracked and measured.

Make sure your measurement system uses a common scale to evaluate each internal activity. It can be hard to measure some activities that don’t have a direct impact on the sales process—such as creative development. However, you can set goals and metrics around improving something like campaign development times. Through measuring, consider time spent on repeatable work, ad hoc work, and effective resource allocation. Even reducing approval cycles is measurable and easily traceable to the overall strategy of financial strength.

3. Track effectiveness and efficiency separately.

Once there were two men who formed a partnership. They built a small shed beside a busy road. They obtained a truck and drove it to a farmer’s field, where they purchased a truckload of melons for a dollar a melon. They drove the loaded truck to their shed by the road, where they sold their melons for a dollar a melon. They drove back to the farmer’s field and bought another truckload of melons for a dollar a melon. Transporting them to the roadside, they again sold them for a dollar a melon. As they drove back toward the farmer’s field to get another load, one partner said to the other, “We’re not making much money on this business, are we?” “No, we’re not,” his partner replied. “Do you think we need a bigger truck?”

Kathryn Roy of Precision Thinking notes there is a difference between doing things that drive results, i.e. effectiveness, and doing things—including the wrong things. Never substitute efficiency metrics for effectiveness metrics. Having a 20% email open rate doesn’t mean much if the people reading would never qualify as prospects.

Work is pointless if it doesn’t benefit the business. That’s why prioritizing work based on what will bring the most ROI or benefit to your organization is vital. It is also important to track your resources, how long each deliverable takes to be completed, and who did it. This allows you to measure output effectively and increases individual accountability.

Method Communications





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Whatever disconnects may have previously caused headaches or misunderstandings between marketing activities and business goals, they should be buried, and buried deep. When managing and marketing stakeholders are united in subscribing to work measurement and stepping up to accept accountability, then strategies are aligned and there is clarity on what work is a priority—the work that promotes profitability.

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