Today’s post will share a personal case study that illustrates, once again, why I consider myself a performance marketer and why all marketers should do the same. I was reminded last month that I’m the world’s greatest marketer, well, until it’s budget review time.
First off, let’s get on the same page. Performance marketers are those whose believe the goal of their campaign is to measurably and purposefully link marketing activity to bottom line results such as revenue, cost savings, and/or customer lifetime value.
Brand marketers measure their activity through an increase in brand awareness and sentiment, relationship building, and earned media. Each is valuable and each, it can be argued, is required in a business.
Of course, my experience leads me to focus on the performance vs. brand marketing and today’s brief case study is proof that my instincts are correct.
You’re The Greatest Marketer
Three years ago, Sensei was hired by one of the world’s largest financial institutions to work with its wealth management division. We were tasked with an impossible project: “Create a direct relationship with out investors.”
On the surface, building a customer relationship is a “piece of cake” for any half-decent marketer. The challenge with this particular situation is that the client relationship belonged to third-party financial advisors, not the financial institution itself. In effect, our client’s clients were financial advisors, not the investors whose money they managed.
The problem with this reality is that the company that is managing the investor’s money has no ownership over the client relationship or customer experience; the financial advisor does.
What this means is that if the independent financial advisor chooses to move his/her clients to another firm, he/she can do so on a whim with no repercussions or complaints from the investors.
There’s no emotional attachment to the brand that’s investing – and growing – their net worth, and thus no loyalty.
Sensei was hired to reverse this trend. We were tasked with supporting the valuable network of independent financial advisors while simultaneously creating a personal relationship between the financial institution and the investor.
The Trouble with Relationship Building
At first, we almost rejected the project because the task was to build a relationship, not generate increased revenue or customer lifetime value (CLV).
However, we saw a future play here and so we accepted the project and purposefully strategized solutions that would deliver what we knew would be the eventual demand.
Three years have passed and we’ve successfully built and currently manage an affinity and advocate program for this client. This past month, along with our creative agency partner, we presented our year-end status report that showcased the increase in client adoption, opt-in subscriptions, personal information volunteered, and year-to-date engagement increases.
Adoption is high and satisfaction among those registering in our program is even higher.
The client was thrilled. For the third year in a row, they indicated that we surpassed their expectations and delivered what was previously considered impossible in this industry. We were thanked for being great marketing strategists and for enhancing their customer’s experience with their brand.
The Other Shoe Drops
Then, the question that we were expecting from day one was finally asked when we raised the question about next year’s budget: “What revenue has this program generated for us?” The other shoe dropped.
It seems that the budget made available to enhance customer experience and build a stronger relationship, exactly what the client asked for and what we delivered, was in jeopardy.
The client recognized the success of the program by pure marketing metrics but the executive was questioning the value of extending that budget into the future if it wasn’t measured against business metrics: Revenue and profit.
We were the world’s greatest marketers, achieving what no one else in the industry has ever done, until we weren’t.
You see, we were able to demonstrate an increase in engagement and brand awareness but unless we could also demonstrate a net effect on the bottom line, future budgets would be challenged. Luckily, as referenced at the beginning of this post, we’re performance marketers and we’ve been planning for this day.
Connecting the Dots
At one point or another, most marketers face this day. The day when metrics are just that: Metrics. Ultimately, marketing metrics are not measurement, they are contributing factors to business success measurements.
Key performance indicators, if you will, that allude to the general trajectory of a business’s marketing effort, not necessarily its impact on the bottom line.
Lucky for us, we planned for this occasion and were able to demonstrate how the infrastructure created – and the engagement driven – provide the necessary platform from which to increase and measure direct sales and decreased churn.
Sadly, many marketers and marketing agencies are released for failing to link an increase in earned media and brand awareness to bottom-line results. They claim they lost jobs because of personality conflicts, changing staff, or the ubiquitous: “the economy” excuse.
In reality, most marketers, even those considered successful, fail to maintain a client in the long-term for one simple reason: They cannot accurately measure their value in pure business results.
- Is a performance marketer more valuable to clients than a brand marketer?
- Is it the job of a marketer to prove his/her value in sales and CLV or in the quality of the relationships built and earned media?
Share your thoughts – pro or con – in the comments below.
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego