Reach the Right Audience — Sherburne
If you are not calling on them, you certainly should be. And what are they really looking for?
I recently came across an interesting survey of Chief Marketing Officers. While the title Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) can be a little intimidating and sounds like a title only found in very large companies, 51 percent of respondents to this research reported a total number of employees in their companies of 500 or less. This means that understanding what these CMOs are looking for can be relevant to businesses of almost any size. That’s why it’s worth sharing the highlights of this research with you.
The research was conducted by Targetbase (www.targetbase.com), a direct marketing agency in Omnicom Group’s Diversified Agency Services division. They surveyed CMOs from 40 leading companies—including Disney, General Mills, Sunkist and Whole Foods, as well as smaller companies—on the relationship between marketing and corporate growth.
The 19-question survey explores how these CMOs measure growth, the challenges they face in meeting financial goals, and marketing efforts and budget. In other words, it reflects how they measure their personal success as they strive to deliver success for their companies.
While companies use a number of metrics to measure their growth—growth that can be attributed to the success of their sales and marketing efforts—28 percent of the respondents reported that revenue was the most important metric, followed by profits (18 percent) and sales (15 percent). That being said, growth goals are relatively modest, with 38 percent of respondents indicating they expected less than 10 percent growth in their most important metric.
When asked about their approach to growing their businesses in today’s marketing environment, the top responses were:
Consumer Targeted Communication (12 percent)
Customer Identification/Segmentation (12 percent)
Identify/Satisfy Consumer Needs (12 percent)
Strengthen Communication to Consumers (12 percent)
In order to accomplish this, respondents identified a number of channels; 23 percent specified direct mail as the most important channel, with 15 percent identifying print (magazines/newspapers). Although 58 percent of respondents indicated they used e-mail, only 10 percent identified e-mail as the most effective channel. Eighty percent of respondents indicated they choose marketing channels based on past results, while 65 percent selected best projected ROI (multiple answers allowed).
Bottom Line on Budgets
Respondents reported that their marketing budgets comprise an average of 6.14 percent of corporate revenues, but 40 percent report that their marketing budget is not sufficient to achieve growth objectives. Besides complaining about inadequate marketing budgets, 40 percent of the respondents identified elusive ROI as a significant challenge. Interestingly, 50 percent indicated that pressure to produce short-term results frequently requires them to modify long-term growth strategies.
And, finally, when respondents were asked about the one thing that external agencies could do to help them achieve their growth goals (although 33 percent chose not to answer or didn’t know), 14 percent responded Reporting/Analysis/Recommendations and another 14 percent responded Understand Business/Industry/Products/Client’s Needs. Only 2 percent responded with Reasonable Pricing.
So what does all of this mean? Marketers are making it clear that external agencies (increasingly, that’s you!) need to have a good understanding of their business and that marketers need help in quantifying marketing ROI. Reading between the lines, quantifying ROI would help marketers potentially gain larger marketing budgets, since their management is likely to be very results driven. For many years, marketing has been a nebulous spend with which many CFOs are uncomfortable.
The good news for us is that direct mail is still viewed as the most effective channel of communication by many marketers as they aim to reach consumers with targeted messaging. But in line with their ROI needs, they are also looking for reporting and analysis, as well as recommendations about conducting effective campaigns.
Over the last couple of years, I have spoken to a number of printing operations—increasingly calling themselves marketing services companies or business communications service providers—that have taken this type of feedback to heart and, as a result, they are growing at rates well above the industry average. Many of the owners of these businesses come from outside our industry, bringing with them fresh, new ideas.
One great example is ImageMark, whose owner, Walter Payne, was an executive in the cable TV business, ultimately serving as the vice president of development for a cable company. Although he had no previous experience in the printing industry, Payne decided to acquire ImageMark in 1996 from the estate of victims of the ValueJet crash. ImageMark has 16 full-time and five part-time employees.
Payne has focused the company on select industries, including automotive aftermarket parts and orthodontics. While neither of these industries may sound particularly exciting, Payne has been able to deliver some pretty exciting results for his clients.
Orthodontists, for example, do branding and marketing campaigns targeted at families likely to have small children who may need their services as they grow up. These campaigns are designed to create brand awareness for them. ImageMark provides an online catalog of templates that allows orthodontists to go online, chose a postcard template, customize it to his/her particular needs, upload a list, and order a mailing campaign that is then executed by ImageMark. In addition, orthodontists also have access to brochures and other printed materials through this catalog.
ImageMark has been able to deliver an average of a nine-to-one ROI for these programs. In one recent case, the ROI was an astounding 25-to-one! That is to say, for every dollar the orthodontist spent on a direct mail campaign, he received $25 in revenues. Not bad. Who could say no to that?
In putting this program together, Payne has met the key requirements for the marketing executive by: understanding the client’s business, industry, products and needs. He is focused on their industry, providing ideas and recommendations via the design of postcard templates and brochures. ImageMark is making access easy through a Web-based application and delivering a clear ROI analysis, ensuring that orthodontists will continue to use the service based on positive past experiences.
And with proven results like these, price—while always a consideration—is not going to be the driving factor in getting orthodontists to adopt these programs. As a result of this type of approach to the customer—embodying responsiveness to the marketer’s needs—ImageMark annual sales have grown from $250,000 to nearly $2 million since Payne acquired the company. And he has done it by implementing tools and technologies that are readily available in the market.
The ImageMark example demonstrates that you don’t have to be an RR Donnelley to meet the needs of marketing professionals, and that solutions don’t need to be large and complex. It is simply getting out there and talking to marketers in your client accounts, taking the time to understand more about their business objectives and ways you can help them achieve those objectives.
Take a page out of ImageMark’s book and grow your business by helping your customers grow their’s. Find out how the needs of your clients’ marketing executives compare with those outlined in the Targetbase research. Develop innovative business communications solutions that help them achieve their objectives.
With a successful program in place, replicate that success to other like clients—and leverage your own direct mail campaign to get the word out.
You will be well on your way to becoming that trusted partner that marketers will turn to over and over again as they strive to help their companies—and their budgets—grow.
About the Author
Cary Sherburne is a well-known journalist, author and strategic marketing consultant working primarily with the printing and publishing industry. She is a frequent speaker at industry events, a regular contributor to industry publications and has written three books, available through the National Association for Printing Leadership (www.napl.org). Sherburne can be reached at Cary@SherburneAssociates.com.