Two reports that survey marketers lay bare two festering issues in the profession. The reports are The State of Marketing: Unica’s Annual Survey of Marketers and the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report from the Social Media Examiner. Both are well done and provide some interesting statistics, yet, the findings are disappointing.
The top findings are shared by both studies and just happen to be the same ones that were identified as critical when I entered marketing over twenty years ago. The enduring issues are measurement and integration. “Marketers Seem Ready to Bridge the Gap Between Analysis and Action” is Unica’s chief finding and “Measurement and integration are top areas marketers want to master” is identified by the Social Media Examiner.
Of course, my disappointment is not with the survey results, it is with the profession’s lack of progress. In marketing we often speak of trends, arguably the biggest trend in the profession is remaining stumped about measurement and integration. I have not been to a conference where these two issues are not referenced (or are the subjects for the entire event) or a client meeting where they are not raised in some form or another.
So what to do? From my perspective, measurement is a constant experiment and must be specific to each brand, campaign, and initiative. The secret is to stay focused and have all stakeholders agree on manageable set of metrics that contribute to sales. Take my word, do not make sales one of them. By monitoring and adjusting metrics that contribute to sales, the team is addressing strategy and tactics simultaneously.
When the issue of integration is raised it is often described as the lack of connectivity between communications channels. This is a misdirection, it is really about organization and process. Marketing exists to answer three fundamental questions: 1. What do you have that is unique? 2. Who wants or needs it? and 3. How do they like to to be engaged?
The answer to number three is the ‘marketing mix’ and these days it can be broad and complex. But if the questions are answered thoroughly, no one will debate the channels that make sense. The real challenge is coordinating the various skill-sets that deliver the communications across the different channels.
When I was in management consulting, I kept organizational design specialists on my speed dial. This is because I knew that when my clients complained about the lack of integration in their communications, it more often than not came down to dysfunction within their own organizational structure and the processes within it.
I am not suggesting we can eradicate the complexities of marketing measurement and integration. I am advocating actions we can take to improve results and advance the profession’s capabilities. Marketing must be accountable through measurement and efficient through organizational effectiveness so we can move onto fresher challenges.