Are You Over-Investing in Marketing Analytics?

Are the creative aspects of your job being trumped by the analytical demands from the Board?

Lisa Nirell

Are the creative aspects of your job being trumped by the analytical demands from the Board?

Pressure to prove return on investment on virtually EVERY marketing initiative has reached a fever pitch. As marketing analytics captures front and center stage in the boardroom, CMOs are facing greater pressure than any time in history. This trend can easily draw resources and attention from an organization’s core identity, leaving it vulnerable to missed branding opportunities.

Esurance, an Allstate company, provides a classic example. After they spent two years building innovative demand generation and marketing analytics programs, Esurance’s brand earned the “price check and cartoon company” moniker. Prospects used Esurance’s website to compare prices, then buy from competitors. The market had seized control of their brand.

John Swigart, their CMO, realized that if they did not react quickly, they would waste millions on advertising and witness stagnant growth.

Their experiences remind us of the dark side of over-investing in marketing operations at the expense of the creative aspects of marketing.

Be mindful of these traps as you plan for the coming year:

  1. Don’t expect to be an instant expert in marketing analytics. The market is changing at warp speed. I recently counted over 100 community building, blogging, and social marketing management platforms. Hire vendor-neutral external help to navigate this messy market.
  2. Build a safety net as your responsibilities expand. Half of the marketing leaders in my peer groups now carry a sales quota. Stingy, executive teams often cut back on professional development and marketing funds when they are needed the most. This is the optimal time to invest in expanding your demand creation expertise.
  3. Avoid the “order taker” mentality. You cannot anticipate new opportunities when you constantly focus on fulfilling urgent needs.

The rest of the Esurance story? John began tracking how he allocated his management time, and began investing at least 60 per cent in branding and positioning efforts. He and his team also invested in a significant brand makeover. Within months, Esurance saw 14% insurance premium growth over the prior year quarter, and a 30% upswing in new business sales.

Don’t forget the power of your brand. Some things cannot be captured in a spreadsheet.

copyright  2013, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved

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