By: Lauren Weinberg, Chief Marketing Officer, Square
For CMOs specifically and marketers generally, determining where, when, and how to make marketing investments remains both art and science, even in our increasingly data-driven world.
As marketers, we shouldn’t expect to get everything right since we’re always adapting and evolving based on constantly changing industry and socio/macroeconomic factors. Still, while it should go without saying, but doesn’t, marketers need to be able to tie their investments to driving business results. Not all investments need to be tied to short term outcomes, but all investments do need to tie back to some business outcome.
In other words, for every marketing strategy and tactic, if you can’t clearly articulate what success means and how it effectively will be determined, don’t make the investment.
My advice, think about the balance between demand creation and demand capture. Create metric frameworks that combine short- and long-term success measures, including not just immediate transactions, but brand perception and consideration, which drive longer-term and sustainable performance and financial metrics. This helps you and your stakeholders understand and assess the intent and impact of your investments.
Be in the data
There is no such thing as the perfect measurement solution. Consumer patterns and the digital landscape move at the speed of culture, posing new challenges for marketers trying to accurately and absolutely measure ROI, especially when it comes to measuring brand marketing where there are fewer attributable touch points. Consequently, and in the absence of certainty, value progress over perfection. If this was easy, all brands would have figured it out already.
How do you do it? First, define your strategy for measuring short- and long-term goals. Then, test various technologies within your martech stack that might achieve these. Next, understand how these new technologies integrate with your existing stack, consider how each measures results, and how you’ll gauge and define success with each. Always continue to test and iterate and seek ways to improve your measurement inputs and outputs.
Finding insights in the data is where the tie of marketing investment to business results really lies. Data-driven insights will allow you to be more agile so you can either increase or contract spend as business performance varies. Take these insights and then push to evolve your measurement approach so it’s measuring what matters, not simply what it can.
Invest in brand awareness
Performance marketing will always be critical to generate leads and conversion, but performance and brand are not mutually exclusive and it’s still necessary to invest in long-term brand building to solidify awareness, steer perception, garner trust and generate demand. With only short-term performance orientation, you lose the ability to communicate brand values and distinctions, which are necessary in creating sustainable and long-term value.
While awareness investment undoubtedly returns value, there are a number of strategic approaches that drive awareness and consideration, each with their own strengths. The key is activating a mix for optimal growth velocity and investment efficiency. Increase investments in growing share of voice through new and organic channels, product seeding, events, and tradeshows, and earned media.
While brand marketing can be harder to measure, this shouldn’t put limitations on determining investment strategy, especially now, when economic uncertainty has led to media pricing efficiencies. It means brands have more opportunity to invest in market share capture.
Take principled risks
Even with a well-defined strategy, brands need to be nimble so they can not only adapt in a moment but make space to experiment and try new things. Risk-taking should be in every marketing organization’s DNA.
With risk-taking celebrated, during planning you’ll be able to reserve time and budget to test new strategies, and tactics. Creativity loves constraint, economic and otherwise. Start by taking small principled risks so you can iterate and learn quickly without investing too heavily in a novel tactic that doesn’t pan out. Keep your ear to the ground on what matters most to your customers and lean in during moments that matter. A few examples include investing in hyper-local activations, influencers, and partnerships. Moving at the speed of culture requires agility and speed. When executed well, these activations build trust and demonstrate your commitment to understanding your customers.
Transparency equals advocacy
Regular reporting of efforts and results with your CEO, CFO and marketing organization is the key to advocating and influencing marketing investment. It’s important to over communicate, be transparent and accountable, and continue educating those who may not understand marketing as you do. Consistent updates highlighting objectives, approach, findings, learnings, and next steps keeps everyone aligned. By including what didn’t work, what did and what was learned enables everyone—and your marketing—to get better.
There is no “right” answer when it comes to marketing, and in today’s world, brands are being given the opportunity to return to a beginner’s mindset and find new, unique ways to achieve their goals. With smart and strategic investments, I am more bullish than ever on marketing’s ability to deliver growth.
Lauren Weinberg is the Chief Marketing Officer of Square, where she leads global marketing and communications for the $80B company that provides technology and software solutions for millions of business owners all over the world.