Accountants and statisticians look back at the numbers and draw conclusions, marketeers look forward and have visions.
A bold statement maybe, but if we’d listened to the predictions of the statisticians we’d have had faster horses rather than cars and CDs with more space.
It’s the marketing guys that need to be the visionaries in the business, to look forward not back. Yes, look at the numbers, but look at what they tell you, and don’t be constricted by them, be inspired!
Understand the numbers that make a difference to your business, understand how you can affect them and the impact of your decisions on them.
Crucially understand where the profit is to be made in your business, but don’t neglect the need to invest in development or to test new ideas, new formats, new thoughts, new flavours – whatever it is that will take your brand and business forward, but always with one eye on the numbers.
If all we did was look back and try to do the same again, but more profitably then some of the great innovations and inventions would never have taken place. And what’s more the world would be a pretty dull place.
This isn’t the standard ‘marketing is fluffy fun, accountants are dull and boring’ piece, rather it’s a call to arms for marketing to lead the business forward but not to be led by the business.
It’s key to success that we set targets for marketing activity, and that we measure success against those targets, but it’s also important that we don’t lose the essence of what marketing can add to the business, how it can make the difference. We need to work with the numbers guys to understand and measure performance and manage the cash within the business, but we shouldn’t lose sight of what our businesses are best at, what they are passionate about and where the point of difference is.
The explosion of digital media has meant that we can measure everything online, but that doesn’t mean we need to! We need to understand what are the KPIs that are most important to our business and then focus on them and how we can improve them. ‘Just because we can doesn’t mean we should’ is a mantra we often chant around this way, and we believe in it.
Don’t lose sight of what we do, marketeers are here to create demand for the rest of the business to fulfil, how we do it varies from business to business, but that essentially is our raison d’etre.
Look at the retailers who ended up becoming property management businesses and lost sight of what they actually did to their detriment. I’m not blaming the accountants but you can bet those businesses thought they had a sharp focus on their numbers, they were just looking at the wrong ones! Before long they weren’t the businesses that had been successful at something they loved and were good at, but had become driven by something they were not expert in and eventually the numbers that mattered suffered and one by one they disappeared from our high streets.
So what’s the message?
Same as it ever was, find what you’re great at, understand how it makes money and do it the best you possibly can, and enjoy it!