Philip Kotler, the leading thinker on the subject of integrated marketing, has a new book out — According to Kotler: The World’s Foremost Authority on Marketing Answers Your Questions [AMACOM] — and it arrives on the scene just as another survey on marketing ROI is emerging.
New research from the Association of National Advertisers, MMA and Forrester Research, set to be unveiled later this month, reports only 13 percent of marketing execs are confident that they can forecast the impact of the marketing investment on sales. "The industry recognizes it has a problem," said John Nardone, MMA’s chief client officer. "Part of the difficulty is that while companies are expending a lot of effort on accountability, the work isn’t organized from senior management on down and integrated within a company, but siloed within an individual department."
Have yet to read the Kotler book, but seeing this survey news on the same day I read an interview with Kotler, I believe a lot of solutions reside in the current gap between business strategy and marketing execution — something that Kotler has been exploring for years. Many great marketing execs are working hard to establish sensible guidelines for measuring the impact of marketing on sales and market penetration. The talented marketers can do this with the participation of the other CXOs. First step: CXOs must take marketing seriously and guide it to becoming, if not a profit center itself, a key success factor in the company’s profit centers.
Guide is the operative concept. For the investment in marketing to be measured, CXOs must avoid what I call "throwing me in the pool and telling me to swim." If a function has never had accountability for sales or profitability, the company has to help define the path. And it’s going to be a different path for every organization — because Marketing, while shaped by basic tenets and standards, has the responsibility for creating a differentiation strategy out of what a company owns authentically and, with luck, uniquely. What works in one situation may fall flat in another. Kotler is a good source to consult on the question of what’s needed internally — in the way of relationships and focus — to make Marketing succeed — to help the function contribute differentiation strategies and actions that make sales happen and create impenetrable competitive barriers.