September 26, 2007

Do Marketers Matter?

Do you ever feel like nobody appreciates the marketing work you do?

"Back in the day", i.e. Nordstrom 2001, I inherited the circulation team responsible for mailing catalogs (hang in there e-mail and search marketers, the punchline is coming).

One of my first tasks was to investigate a sale catalog that missed expectations by 40%. That's FORTY percent, folks.

I asked to see the selection criteria used to determine which customer segments received the catalog.

I was told that the merchant responsible for sale/clearance merchandise decided who received the catalog.


That's right, the merchant, a strong-willed individual, wanted control over who received "his" catalog, and somehow convinced the circulation director that "he" should decide who received the catalog. The merchant decided to pick customers based on age/income/demographics, not based on prior sale/clearance purchase activity, not based on recent purchase activity, not based on loyal customers who spent a ton of money in the past.

So the circulation team gave him his wish.

And "his" catalog missed expectations by 40%.

Soon after that debacle, we had to pick customers for yet another sale/clearance catalog. We reverted back to having the circulation experts do the work they were trained to do.

We got back the 40% we lost in the prior sale/clearance catalog.

Catalog, Database, E-Mail, Search, and Online Marketers don't always tell a compelling story. These folks do hard work. Not many people notice.

Some companies break down their online sales by marketing activity, in an effort to demonstrate the value marketers bring to an organization. The breakdown looks something like this:
  • Annual Online Sales = $50,000,000
    • Online Sales Driven By Catalog Mailings = $15,000,000.
    • Online Sales Driven By E-Mail Marketing = $8,000,000.
    • Online Sales Driven By Paid Search Marketing = $5,000,000.
    • Online Sales Driven By Natural/Organic Search = $3,000,000.
    • Online Sales Driven By Affiliates = $3,000,000.
    • Online Sales Driven By Portal Advertising = $2,000,000.
    • Online Sales Driven By Shopping Comparison Sites = $2,000,000.
    • All Other Online Sales = $13,000,000.
A profit and loss statement is created for the $37,000,000 driven by the marketing team. Another profit and loss statement is created for the $13,000,000 created by the rest of the company. Of course, the results are exaggerated. But they prove a point!

If the marketing team did not exist, a $50,000,000 website becomes a $13,000,000 website. Regardless how enticing the merchandise is, regardless how powerful the "brand" is, a $50,000,000 website becomes a $13,000,000 website.

If the marketing team stunk (using the Nordstrom example from the start of this post), the $37,000,000 driven by the marketing team would only be $22,000,000.

In other words:
  • No marketing at all yields $13,000,000 of annual online sales.
  • Poor marketing adds $22,000,000, yielding $35,000,000 total.
  • Good people doing good marketing add another $15,000,000, yielding the annual total of $50,000,000.
Yes, marketers matter.

And gifted marketers are worth even more.

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