The Marketing Strategist:
Ask ITSMA: Communicating Marketing’s Impact
Each month, ITSMA receives a number of queries through Ask ITSMA, a resource designed to give members a quick and easy way to get insight on important services and solutions marketing questions they face. In this column, we will publish some of our favorite questions, along with excerpts from our replies.
Question: Since you work with so many other companies, I’m wondering if you’ve seen any layouts or formats that work well in communicating marketing’s impact to leadership. I realize that the data is what’s most important but we also struggle with using too many words. Can you help?
Answer: Collecting the right data is definitely the first challenge since the data you need is often spread around different spreadsheets, servers, and marketing automation systems. But even when you have the data, getting real value from it with business leadership is no simple task. Most marketing organizations fall short in effectively communicating marketing’s impact on the business.
Before thinking about HOW to communicate or what particular format to use, marketers should establish a basic communications plan that addresses three questions:
- What should you report?
- To whom should you report?
- How often?
Then you can think about format. Most marketing organizations need some sort of dashboard to serve as a visual representation of the essential information that executives need to make decisions and manage the business. Ideally, the most important information can even fit on one screen so executives can view it at a glance.
At the same time, you want your data to tell a good story so the impact of marketing is clear and memorable, and not just a mass of data.
According to ITSMA’s most recent survey, Measuring and Communicating Marketing’s Impact, only six in ten companies produce a dashboard — and that’s using a liberal definition of the word that includes PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, and marketing automation reports. Of those that do produce dashboards, only about one-third provide an executive-level view. In essence, the majority of marketers are just reporting to themselves, not to business leadership. No wonder they’re struggling to communicate how marketing makes a difference!
CSC and Deloitte, two winners of Marketing Excellence Awards for communicating marketing impact, have shared their approaches with the ITSMA community, including views of their dashboards.
For more information on CSC’s award-winning program, check out the ITSMA case study CSC’s Dashboard Ties Marketing Activity to Business Results (available at no charge to ITSMA member companies and for sale to all others).