I used to work for a CEO who referred to the marketing department as the “Crayon Department.” He was joking, of course, but in a lot of organizations, marketing is viewed as a necessary evil or a bottomless pit of expense. This feeling comes from the challenge of linking marketing expenses with revenues. In a murky world of “brand value” and “reputation management,” it can be difficult to determine ROI for a full-page ad in a magazine or the sponsoring of a reception.
It is important, therefore, to see that marketing does in fact generate significant assets for your organization, and that a number of them are tangible. Consider the following list of marketing assets, and whether your current marketing efforts are working for you in a measurable way.
Qualified Contacts – Having a strong contact database is a huge asset for your organization. It can put key information and people at the fingertips of the sales team and senior management. Often, however, that information does not come from the sales team, but from various mailing lists and business cards that trickle into your organization. Focus on building out a contact list with updated information and usable emails and phone numbers. Such a list will help the entire organization.
Expert Content – Generating content is not easy to do. Most people hate to write, especially about business issues. And when they do, they feel uncertain about the quality of what has been written. But content is king, and using it to showcase your organization’s knowledge and expertise is critical given the free flow of information that the Internet has enabled. Marketing operations should be curating and generating content to reside on your website and be distributed in support of your sales message.
Photo and Video Stockpiles – Photos and videos are two specific forms of content that are particularly important for organizations. These assets tell stories and provide the visual appeal that a page of words cannot. They are unique because they require special equipment and thoughtful timing. Hosting an event to launch a new product or service? Your organization only has one chance to capture that moment. Attending a trackside event where several clients will be present? It is not often you have several clients all in one spot to capture their positive sentiment about your organization. Having the foresight to have the right equipment (and talent) in the right place can result in visual assets that will serve your organization for years to come.
Supportive Fans – Fans like to brag about being a customer and always want to see you succeed. Marketing’s job is to foster fans by giving them platforms and tools to sing to the hills about their love affair with your organization. Intelligently leveraging them in your own content generation (with testimonials or case studies), will help your organization make a great first impression and gather even more fans.
Marketing Stats – One reason marketing dollars are quickly flowing to Internet advertising is that it generates near real-time feedback on the success of the marketing effort. An ad in a magazine won’t tell you how many people were motivated by it, but by placing an ad on a website you can track exactly how many people click on it. Further, you can track if and how that person moved through your website after clicking the ad – perhaps they completed a contact form or looked at a related product. Your marketing department should collect and understand this data and be able to answer questions about costs and yields of online marketing campaigns.
Market Intelligence – Marketing efforts should not only work on pushing your brand, they should also be listening to what is going on with the competition. With better market place intelligence, you can find opportunities and tune your own sales pitch to win the day. Your organization should have a strong sense of what competitors are rising and falling and which prospects are open to considering your organization.
Yes, marketing can make things look nice or provide a creative edge that is not present elsewhere in your organization. But marketing operations can be so much more. Marketing can empower fans and capture special moments for your organization so they last forever. Marketing can build a robust contact database that powers your whole organization and create content for the world to discover. All together, these efforts serve to position your organization as a leader, engaged and dedicated to the work you do.