Marketing accountability demands increase

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B-to-b companies are demanding more accountability from their marketing programs, according to a study released last month by Patrick Marketing Group.

The study, based on interviews with about 75 senior marketing executives, found that 81% said accountability had increased in their marketing organizations over the past 24 months. The remaining 19% said it had not.

"Marketing in many ways has gotten a pass from being held accountable," said Jim Speros, chief marketing officer at Ernst & Young and former chairman of the Association of National Advertisers. "CEOs and CFOs of major corporations hold finance organizations accountable for driving results, yet marketing has not historically been held to the same standard."

Speros noted that marketing metrics have been "soft" measures, such as brand awareness and brand preference. "Now, CEOs and CMOs are driving requests for more metrics and more accountability," he said.

When asked about the effects of increased marketing accountability at their organizations, 59% of respondents to the Patrick Marketing survey said marketing programs must show a return on investment, with every dollar spent producing revenue or returns.

"Marketing needs to drive sales results measurably and predictably," said Craig Shields, partner at Patrick Marketing Group, Calabasas, Calif., and the author of the report.

Twenty-six percent of respondents said they are using new metrics to track ROI; 11% said there had been a shift to marketing-led initiatives at their companies; and 7% said they must hold themselves to the highest standards. (Respondents could select more than one response.)

Another key finding was that marketing is seen as more of a lead generator than a brand-building activity. When asked to identify the role or roles of marketing at their organizations, 61% said its role is to generate leads or demands. Only 27% said its role is to generate awareness of the company or products; 25% said it is used to build the brand.

"The types of things that make sense from a long-term marketing standpoint are roundly disregarded because people need such short-term measurable results," Shields said.

Respondents were also asked to identify which marketing activities received the "lion's share" of the budget. Direct marketing/e-mail had the highest response (26%), followed by trade shows (21%), Web site (21%), advertising (19%) and PR (13%).

Kelly Sellar, marketing officer for Real Estate Capital Markets at LaSalle Bank, Chicago, said the bank is using more marketing functions that can be directly measured, such as e-mail, e-marketing and value-added sales materials for its brokers.

"Print advertising is great, but you don't always see a direct result from an ad in a publication," Sellar said. "Print advertising is more for brand identification. With e-marketing, you have the capability to see how many deals resulted from a campaign."

When asked to state reasons for investing in marketing disciplines, the greatest response by far was to drive leads (48%), followed by brand building (15%), relationship building (8%) and measurability (7%).

Marketers said their greatest challenges are budget constraints (31%), generating market awareness (20%), brand building (14%), internal communication (14%), changing markets (10%), balancing short-term requirements with long-term strategy (8%) and competition (7%). (Respondents could again select more than one answer.)

Lack of support from senior management was identified as one of the greatest frustrations of marketers (43%), as well as not enough time or resources (29%). Budget constraints were another frustration (25%), as well as inadequate information on which to make decisions (8%).

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