My Rule: Smart Marketing is Always Accountable to an ROI
This article addresses the critical combination of the Business Marketing/Advertising “Will It Work Formula” coupled with the understanding of the Counselor Sales process and Contextually Dynamic Customer-Centric Effective Communications.
The father of modern merchandising, John Wanamaker authored a statement about marketing expenses a century ago that I hear ringing through C-suites and marketing departments as well as small to mid-sized C&I company owners to this day; “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Naturally, the “go-to” statement of people in charge of these over a trillion dollars spent globally for all forms of advertising and marketing annually is “oh well, advertising and marketing are a calculated risk!”
In my 40 years in the sales/marketing and advertising business arena, each time I heard that statement come across the desk I’d ask, “Can I see what your calculations are?” Nine times out of ten, there were no calculations! And nine times out of ten, the people making these comments, unless they were the company owner, didn’t keep their position more than a few years.
My keen awareness of the pain and frustration business owners were dealing with regarding non-performing marketing dollars became pointedly apparent when I became the Sales Manager of a formidable FM radio station in Upstate South Carolina.
I was blessed to have a General Manager that insisted on me receiving the best Sales & Marketing training money could buy, so I was sent to Larry Wilson’s Counselor Sales Training. Larry had dedicated 10 years of his early life to study the tenets of the top salespeople at Fortune 100 companies and from that research built the Counselor Sales Program. It was fascinating and to this day, I’m amazed how many people are unaware of the plutonium it yields in effective selling. This benchmark study and ensuing sales platform are completely based on helping customers and their businesses achieve success. No snake oil here, only true, compassionate, deliberate, and conscious-competent processes practiced with this discipline.
So, at this point in my early career, I now had the conscious competence of this extremely powerful and effective sales training, a pretty good work ethic, a great position at a top-rated FM radio station, and a seasoned sales team. But guess what, our advertisers were still saying they’re not sure where their customers are coming from and if their ad dollars are working or not. Once again, we heard, and many times said to ourselves, “Well, advertising is a calculated risk!”. Enter a new hire from out of the marketplace by the name of Mark Dahl. Mark was a seasoned salesperson who was frustrated by the same quandary and had begun a process called the Will It Work Formula.
The Will It Work Formula pulls the pertinent data out of each business regarding its operating DNA and allows the business owner to hold their marketing and advertising dollars accountable as well as the companies they are spending that hard-earned money with. It doesn’t matter whether you’re counting customers across your business threshold or website hits, bounce rates, PPC, SEO, it’s all traffic. As long as you know a few critical data points about your business, you can halt non-working ad spends and fuel those that are performing.
So, what are the critical data points you need to know about your business to hold your marketing and advertising dollars accountable as well as the vendors you’re paying?
- Your advertising investment
- Your desired return on that investment. If you’re spending $X on an advertising campaign do you want it to have a 30%, 50%, 90% ROI?
- Your Gross Sales Margin percentage
- Your average sale and/or customer worth (annually, average sale X number of same customer transactions in one year)
- Your closing ratio, out of ten people that engage with you, how many become customers?
- Hours of operation
With these numbers, we can track daily/hourly, if your advertising/marketing campaign dollars are performing. These numbers represent the mechanics of the process.
Obviously, there is much more involved than mechanics in ad campaign success. Look at the Will It Work Formula as the powertrain of your vehicle. Now we get to the offer and the creative, which can be likened to the body or exterior and interior of the vehicle.
Regarding the facets and tenets of stacking the deck in your favor to be sure your ads are alluring, pertinent, and appealing there is another set of values that are as important as the Will It Work Formula.
These assets are born from the research and tenets of Larry Wilson’s Counselor Sales and from the research and development of Customer-Centric marketing formulated by Alan Varnson. Alan is the smartest marketing expert I have ever met and had the privilege of doing battle with side by side for multimillion-dollar ad campaigns from companies like Proctor & Gamble, Pfizer, Outback Steakhouse, Johnson & Johnson, Johnsonville Sausage (Brats), LensCrafters and many, many others.
We were up against behemoth advertising agencies in Manhattan, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc., and were a small 45-person agency outside of Atlanta in Buford GA. But our campaigns worked, and we were called on time and time again to save products that weren’t selling and even to save brands from extinction when they had received “disco letters” (discontinuation notices) from retailers like Walmart, Target, Grocery Chains, etc.
There are numerous stories where fledgling products and brands used our customer-centric approach and became Category Killers, received triple-digit sales growth, and as a result, these products and brands have become part of American and world culture. Brands like Swiffer, Cascade Complete, Johnsonville Brats, Crest White Strips, Hotels.com, and many others.
So, what are the tenets outside of the Will It Work Formula that addresses what we call Effective Communications, communications that change behavior? An important note here, effective communication is no easy task, Albert Einstein stated, “The hardest thing to change is the made-up mind.” Effective Communications are born from the homogenization of the Counselor Sales’ tenets Trust-Need-Help and Hurry silos and The Context authored by Alan Varnson which relates exclusively to the profoundly delicate posture of Customer-Centric communications.
I have compared this process to a vehicle’s powertrain and trim options, but we even incorporate some old school Dale Carnegie which I liken to color and trim choices in the facets of Attention, Interest, Conviction, Desire and Close.
As you can see, this typically confounding, frustrating point of measuring marketing and advertising results and holding them accountable does have a tried and true path forward implementing well-defined art and science best practices to assemble an advertising/marketing campaign that will absolutely work.
I am available to elaborate on these points and consult your business to drive a successful ROI for your next campaign.