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How To Run Marketing Like A Business: 4 Top Execs Share Their Approach

  • Written by Sam Melnick, Contributing Writer
  • Published in Blog

The demands on a modern marketing team are ever-changing. What hasn’t changed, however, is the need to demonstrate transparency, accountability and impact on the business. These needs are greater than ever.

Enter the growing discipline of Marketing Performance Management (MPM), the ways in which marketing leaders manage their marketing budget against plans and results.

With the growing number of channels and tactics complicating where marketers invest their budget dollars, combined with an overall decrease in marketing budgets — according to Gartner — MPM has become a top priority for organizations today.

“The modern day marketer is tasked with becoming a revenue driver and an architect of the customer experience,” said Kathleen Schaub, VP in the CMO Advisory Service of IDC. “To lead in these areas, marketing leaders must guide, build support and energize what happens behind the scenes. Led by the CMO and Marketing Operations, marketing performance management powers these efforts. Marketers must look beyond execution to the operational scaffolding that makes success possible.”

In fact, one study from Allocadia found that companies that excel at MPM expect their marketing budgets to increase, see significant revenue growth (at least 10%+ YoY) and have a higher confidence in their ROI than the average marketing department.

To showcase companies with great MPM strategies, Allocadia held a nationwide awards program for this emerging practice. The RunMarketing Awards recognized companies for “running the business of marketing.” Demand Gen Report sat down with the winners to find out:

“What is your top key to success in running marketing like a business?”

Here’s what we learned:

1. Ryan Danner, Director Global Marketing — Planning & Financials, Red Hat

Ryan DannerOur focus on Marketing Performance Management has fundamentally transformed the way our marketing organization operates — globally. My key to success in running marketing like a business is to be hyper-focused on data quality and to set strong standards related to metrics such as spend-to-target.

Since we’ve implemented these priorities, our marketing team has gained control and visibility into our marketing investments, plans and budgets, helping us to become a more strategic and trusted partner across the organization.

I also recommend that marketers not look at ROI as just a metric, but also use investment data to make strategic decisions, such as:

  • What is an acceptable acquisition cost?
  • Which tactics outperform others in creating new revenue?
  • How should I adjust to better optimize my highest performing assets?
  • If I spend $X on a specific campaign, how much pipeline can I expect to generate?

This helps to make metrics work for you – not the other way around.

2. Neenu Sharma, VP Marketing Operations & Analytics, GE Digital

Neenu SharmaOur key to success in running the business of marketing is to leverage cross-departmental relationships. My team has made it a key point to build bridges between Marketing and Finance, IT, Sales and other areas of the company in order to operate in lock-step against the same, shared goals. It’s important for us to maintain clarity about our contribution to overall strategic goals, as well as accountability for our own results.

At GE Digital, we are supporting a 26,000-person startup in many ways, as our business unit was formed in fall of 2015 to bring together a number of our existing technology and analytics capabilities. It’s critical for us to run marketing at a high level of excellence, so the rest of our team can “do marketing.”

In pursuit of this, Marketing Performance Management has helped us to create the structure, processes and technology that our entire marketing team needs to be effective. We had initially discovered a hodge-podge of formats, spreadsheets and documents for each group’s marketing plans among various business units, geographies and functional areas within Marketing.

In response, we now recommend every marketing operations professional oust their mess of disconnected spreadsheets and documents to bring in MPM — a far more strategic set of processes and tools that lets our marketing team work closely together, in tighter alignment, and with better visibility into business results. 

3. Harris Thamby, Senior Program Manager, Sales & Marketing IT — Global Ops, Microsoft

1harristhambyTo run marketing like a business most effectively, I recommend organizations strike a balance in change management between technical changes and human changes. To be successful in this discipline, you need to understand the way your teams work within your organization. Here at Microsoft, my team works to shape technology around the team’s business needs in specific ways. That means getting involved closely into the details of data, integrations and workflows. I try to practice conscientious project management, as these details do matter to me.

Even at a company of our size, Marketing Performance Management has helped us to plan, budget and optimize the performance of our marketing investments. No organization is too big for meaningful, yet agile change.

4. Bryan Semple, CMO, SmartBear

Bryan SempleRunning marketing like a business means having a strong handle on key metrics in the marketing organization at all times. You’ve got to use this knowledge to optimize each part of the customer journey, especially if you want to build the kind of high-velocity, predictable marketing engine that’s helped drive revenue growth here at SmartBear.

Another tip for success that we rely on is to take a results-first approach to budgeting. I communicate the outcomes I want to see from my team first, and they work to plan against that result. That way, marketing’s contribution to the bottom line is always paramount, and the team isn’t bogged down planning budgets.

To learn more about the winners of the inaugural RunMarketing Awards, visit