Christine Schaefer of DLT Solutions, an RMR client, recently had one of her articles printed in Chief Marketer Magazine. The article is meant to help bridge the gap between the “creative” types and the “numbers” types in a business. The entire article is below:
The Creative Soul meets the Metrics Maven: Bridging the Information Divide between the CMO and CIO to Turn Marketing from an Art to a Science
By Christine G.D. Schaefer
CMOs are often approached by CEOs, who have a penchant for numbers, to present “data” to demonstrate results or reasons to support marketing initiatives. The trend for CEOs to push for more objective return-on-investment data from marketing expenditures is not new, and therefore neither is the struggle to take what was once considered an art and turn it into a science.
Marketing professionals tend to be unsatisfied with all the usual marketing numbers available – looking at expenditures in dollars as well as percentage of sales, headcount and comp versus industry benchmarks, etc. – to make decisions about how much and where to invest marketing resources. Instead they need data that helps them justify headcount, monitor productivity, and most importantly provide them with the data “ammunition” they need to report return on investments back to the CEO.
So, where does the CMO go to get the numbers they need?
To date, there is no silver bullet, no one analytical model or dashboard that gives the exact answer that a marketing professional needs. Instead, CMOs must come together with their CIOs to create a predictive model for forecasting sales results from marketing investments and an analytical model for measuring the results against their predictions.
Therein lies the problem. Traditional marketing professionals are notorious for having creative minds. Collectively, many heads of marketing struggle in working with intensive analytics and speaking a language that allows them to collaborate effectively with the CIOs, who are savvy with data and analytics, but can seem like human calculators.
So how do we overcome this language barrier between the creative and the analytic?
First, it is helpful to view marketing as a factory through which there will eventually be an output for every input. The CMO’s creative mind can more readily embrace that analogy than complex analytical models or marketing dashboards, and they can also better illustrate metrics to their creative teams.
Designing a strategic plan to change the way the marketing organization operates in order to better capture data through all stages of the marketing process through to lead generation will require CMOs to work with the head of information systems and their team to design the systems. To be most effective, the system should include a CRM, a Workflow Management Tool, a Marketing Activity Calendar and Enterprise Reporting – needed to build the dashboard that would provide the essential information.
The dashboard will now enable CMOs to develop a language and methodology that can be translated into an equation that the CIO can understand and manipulate. The initial discussions about the system may be challenging, but by establishing this common ground on which to communicate, CIOs can relate to the concepts behind the science of operating a factory. Plus, the most successful factories have developed systems for monitoring key metrics along the production cycle to make adjustments real-time to ensure results, rather than having to wait until the end of the cycle to know if they have been successful in achieving pre-stated output goals and therefore a great solution for translating art into science.
Second, it is important to establish precise definitions for every term – eg. What is the definition of a lead? Let’s say that everyone in the CMO’s company agrees that a lead is a customer who has expressed interest in purchasing, how does the IT system define it? Is it an automated selection based on triggers in the system, or is it manually set by a salesperson? The answers to those questions weren’t part of the “definition” but it should be in order for the CIO who must build or maintain the information systems and enterprise reporting tools. The code on which the system is written has no room for soft terms that can be defined in more than one way. Other ambiguous terms that need to be clearly defined could include any of the following: qualified prospect, conversion ratio, marketing activity, and sales activity. All of which are vital for understanding what is happening within the “factory,” while providing forecasting data for next actions and anticipated output.
Lastly, after the CMO has established their model, terms and definitions, it is then time to nail down the information needed from systems – i.e. what should the reports look like? At this point, the CMO can speak to the metrics that will be monitored through the production cycle. For example, going back to the factory model, the CMO may say that they need to monitor the quantity of the raw inputs into the factory (i.e. marketing activities) and the output (i.e. wins) to ensure that factory production (i.e. their marketing and sales operations) is at top efficiency.
The CIO, at the same time, can use the same terms and definitions to translate that information and build a requirements document. What type of system do I need to capture data on how many inputs are entering the marketing factory? That would need to be a database for capturing marketing activity information. What type of system do I need to capture data on output from the marketing factory? That would be a CRM or Order Management System that ties the Wins (output) back to the input (activities). Ultimately, whether the CIO needs to make changes to a current information system, build one from scratch or purchase one already in use, having the proper terms, definitions and requirements is absolutely essential to making effective decisions.
When this system is built and implemented, a company’s marketing lead generation can expand dramatically, the CMO can make predictions regarding annual lead generation numbers, broken down by quarter and division. The system enables effective monitoring progresses through a dashboard weekly, monthly and quarterly. Once this shared terminology is in place, the creative soul of the CMO and the metrics-driven mentality of the CIO can find true harmony in the IT enterprise and collaboratively turn marketing from an art to a science.