Can your CMO justify his seat at the board room table? Or is he still scrambling to justify marketing’s spend?

Too many marketing organizations rely on the fuzziness of marketing results without being able to confidently stand up and say:  “Look, this is what we spent and here is the revenue we got in return!”  According to the 2012 IBM CMO study, 63% of CMOs believe ROI will be the most important measure of success over the next 3 to 5 years.

In today’s economic climate, marketing leaders need to be able to confidently report on their results to justify their seat at the table.  We have all heard that analytics are key to improving performance but what does this really mean for marketing organizations?

As a former Director of Marketing Operations, I was challenged to help my CMO answer some difficult and challenging questions.  When asked to answer critical questions around ROI, I would struggle to find answers.  In the early days in my role, I would reply..let me go get that information for you.  I would inevitably return with a spreadsheet that none of the leadership team would believe.  Now imagine hundreds of spreadsheets floating around with different sets of results.  This led to many interesting and heated conversations….about the veracity of the data versus discussions about business performance.

I soon discovered the magic of Business Intelligence which enabled me to confidently answer leadership’s questions.  CWTo address the challenge of multiple versions of the truth we embarked on a journey which would change the marketing performance conversation forever.

Our journey began by defining the standard metrics and KPIs which would form the common language across marketing and sales.  This was by far the most arduous and difficult part of the initiative.  I would submit that it was the most important step in the entire process.

A "dashboard" is like a speedometer ...
A “dashboard” is like a speedometer that marketing professionals use to report marketing performance.

Once we had gained agreement it took about three months to provide a worldwide marketing scorecard to track performance against KPIs, 5 roles based dashboards to the leadership team, standard demand generation reports for 120+ demand generation specialists with the ability to do ad-hoc analysis to understand why certain marketing activities performed well while others did not.

So what changed?  The conversation about performance completely changed…for the better.  The marketing and sales teams defined a common language about how to measure the business.  With agreed upon KPIs, Metrics and a single, trusted version of the truth, the marketing organization focused on what matters – the marketing activities are performing and which are not.  In the end, by using the data in front of us and acting on it, the marketing organization improved open and click through rates, pipeline creation and conversion to revenue.

If you would like more information about this journey please contact me via Twitter @BrendanRGrady

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