Finding opportunity in marketing departments

Opportunity 33The first functional area we will look at is marketing, which also happens to be one of the more difficult functions to assess. The reason marketing is tricky is because it is sometimes difficult to draw clear connections between what marketing physically produces and the resulting impact of the effort. John Wanamaker, a department store merchant and early pioneer in marketing is attributed with the famous quote that sums up this sentiment, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” That was supposedly said roughly 100 years ago but still resonates with many people today.

Despite the difficulty in establishing clear cause and effect, marketing plays a vital role in helping to provide clarity about what the organization provides its customer or user base. To keep ourselves appropriately oriented in this area, we consider that the primary responsibility of the marketing group is to deliver leads that in turn ultimately become profitable customers. Marketing’s performance in this regard can usually be improved by focusing on some key aspects of how it operates. We focus on two things: customer targeting, and the actual delivery of marketing programs. Below is a checklist of questions designed to help a manager uncover areas of opportunity:

Opportunities in targeting customers

  • Are product/market segments meaningfully segmented?
  • Is the customer base segmented by different buying characteristics?
  • Is there a strategic focus on the highest potential products/markets?
  • Does the actual marketing communicate a clear and differentiated customer value?

Opportunities in delivering marketing programs

  • Is the actual selection process for marketing programs effective?
  • Are delivery processes productive and timely?
  •  Is there an effective project management system?
  •  Is performance assessed in terms of leads generated or increased sales, not just “clicks” or campaigns, or events?
  •  Is the organizational reporting structure and compensation design appropriate?