Nearly 50% of marketers score a grade of C or lower for their ability to prove Marketing's value, impact, and contribution to the organization, according to our 2015 Marketing Performance Management (MPM) benchmark study: A Diagnosis and Prescription for Marketing Performance Management.
But it's not the grade itself that matters so much. It's that marketers with lower grades exert less influence on decisions and have less credibility in the organization.
Becoming an "A" marketer is not an easy task, however. First, you must be able to step back and figure out what corrective actions need to be taken. This article will explain why nearly 50% of marketers are receiving a low grade and what actions they need to take if they are to improve their own and Marketing's performance, credibility, and influence.
Most marketers feel the pressure. They know that their credibility and influence are at risk when they cannot connect marketing investments and activities to business results.
Despite such awareness, they have yet to take the plunge—to dive into making the necessary effort.
After talking with marketers in this group, we found three common themes regarding that lack of action:
- A sense of paralysis: The effort seems so daunting they don't even know where to start, so they don't start at all.
- A heavy current workload: Their plates are so full with activities and responsibilities that the thought of taking on more things is overwhelming.
- A lack of confidence: The work that needs to be done is outside their comfort zone.
Those are not surprising themes; they often accompany situations requiring change. So what can you do to overcome them?
The first two are a result of what is sometimes referred to as Paralyzed Productivity, which stems from a feeling of being overwhelmed. When people feel overwhelmed, they tend to over-complete things, or to delay in fear of doing something incorrectly or imperfectly.
I sense this situation may resonate with some of you vis-à-vis marketing accountability.
In Laura Stack's book Execution Is the Strategy, she offers seven tips for addressing this scenario:
- Reject perfectionism.
- Accept the possibility of failure.
- Realize that the simplest solution is probably the best.
- Follow your core values.
- Focus on getting started.
- Establish milestones and a drop-dead deadline.
- Listen to both head and heart.
People who study workload paralysis suggest honing in on two of these tips to make headway: take a small step—a little momentum is better than none—and focus. Even a small step can give you a sense of accomplishment.
If this situation reflects your current state, the first step is to make a plan.
Marketers who are successful at marketing performance management (MPM) have made it a priority, a focus—and they have a plan for driving their MPM efforts forward. If you don't know how to create a plan, reach out to peers who are tackling this initiative or tap into experts who can help you get started.
Lack of confidence, the third theme, is something altogether different from the first two. People who lack confidence often make choices based on fear.
Psychologists who help people build confidence recommend many of the same steps for this theme as they do for paralysis: Don't seek perfection; visualize and define success; take action; and, most of all, gain and master skills.
All of us can recall moments when we were paralyzed in the face of fear due to lack of skill. For me, it is my memory of learning to dive, plunging headfirst into water.
When you first learn to dive, your coach doesn't have you climb up on the high board. You start poolside, crouching down, your hands above your head, leaning forward so your hands first cut the surface of the water, followed by your body. As you improve and master the process, your confidence increases, enabling you to move from crouching to standing straight, from standing to the low board, and, eventually, to the high board.
Diving into marketing performance measurement and management takes a similar approach:
- Study up: Read articles and books written by experts to learn as much as you can about the subject. As your knowledge increases, so will your confidence.
- Choose an instructor: Whether its martial arts or performing arts, a team or a solo sport, or any other endeavor, coaches and guides are instrumental to skills development, and they help you avoid pitfalls and obstacles.
- Take baby steps: Start at the metaphorical poolside before you try to a somersault twist combo off a cliff.
- Understand that pain is part of the process: No one likes to smack in diving, but it is part of becoming a better diver. So be persistent, because the pressure to connect marketing activities and investments to business results isn't going away.
Diving headfirst from a cliff or mastering marketing performance management and measurement can be scary and daunting. Facing and overcoming your fears is not an easy thing to do; many are never able to do it. But creating the right plan, getting started, and staying focused will help you gain the confidence and momentum you need to eventually overcome those fears.
Immerse yourself in the world of marketing performance measurement and management. See the comprehensive final report of the 2015 Annual MPM Study: A Diagnosis and Prescription for Marketing Performance Measurement and Management.
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