3 Proven Strategies On How To Run Marketing Like A Profitable Business

Published: March 31, 2017

Debbie HeadshotClose to 80% of all B2B marketers are now tasked with driving revenue, yet barely a third can demonstrate any credible financial results. Marketing is stuck and must hit the reset button to get out of its own quagmire.

Throughout my career working with hundreds of B2B marketing organizations, I have witnessed marketing execs prosper and fail. The difference is their ability to drive financial results within their organizations. Here are three proven strategies for revenue success that will jettison marketing pros to a seat at the executive table:

  1. Run marketing like a business by adopting a profit and loss (P&L) mindset;
  2. Adopt a martech approach with strong marketing ops capability; and
  3. Drive practical change in bite-sized pieces.

Run Marketing Like A Business

Running marketing like a business first involves adopting a radical new mindset in marketing. It involves moving from a task orientation to a results orientation. It involves moving from an insular reality to a cross-functional reality. It involves moving from gut instinct decision-making to data-driven decision-making. It involves moving from pay for showing up to pay for performance. How are you tracking so far?

By definition, running marketing like a business also entails taking a profit and loss (P&L) approach. A P&L is a financial statement that summarizes the revenues, costs and expenses incurred over a period of time, such as a quarter or a year. Running and managing a P&L is one of the most important responsibilities of any business executive. Having P & L responsibility involves monitoring the net income after expenses for a department and making decisions on resource allocation based on maximum profit or net income.

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Let’s break this down for marketing. First, record your expenses/costs. This should be straightforward as this is historically what marketing has been all about. Next, record your revenues. This will be a struggle for many marketers, yet this is the critical next step. Begin by reporting what you can in the context of a P&L and improve this! By looking at your numbers in this format and using the P&L as a standard, you will be clear about what you need to do. Remember, “what gets measured, gets done!”

As you continue to work with this P&L approach, you will begin to make decisions that are good for the business (profit and net income). Now, this may cause all kinds of issues with other parts of the company when you are no longer available for busy work at the drop of a hat. Too bad, you are now running marketing like a business!

Adopt A Martech Approach

Forget right brain, it’s time to fully buy, train, borrow, or outsource the left brain. We live in a digital world and marketing is leading the company response to the digital revolution. Adopting a martech approach to help run marketing is a necessity, not a nice to have. AND, adopting a martech approach with superlative execution and adoption creates competitive advantage. So, what does it take to be in the latter category? Develop a marketing operations capability or group.

The charter of marketing operations is to drive efficiency and effectiveness that enables marketing’s attainment of goals and revenue objectives. By establishing a charter, defining a strategy and goals, assigning roles and responsibilities, and developing a martech architecture and roadmap, the marketing operations function begins to come to life. The marketing operations function is much broader than I have time to cover here. What you need to take away is that marketing operations is a specific structure that enables leading the digital revolution and running marketing like a business.  

Drive Practical Change

Running marketing like a business and driving revenue results will require driving practical change. I like to differentiate between change and practical change as follows. Change is a bigger construct. It is nebulous and can be scary. Practical change is bite-sized, clear, on-going and manageable. Rather than making sweeping announcements, take small actions and persist in those actions. When it is not possible to do things in small measure, ongoing communication about what the change means to all stakeholders is key. And, you can’t communicate the message just once—do it over and over. The key takeaway to practical change is that first, you need to recognize how much change you are driving; second, you need to make sure the change you are driving is necessary; and third, you need to consider how to make the change more palatable for all key stakeholders. Take a practical approach to change.

Debbie Qaqish is the Principal Partner and Chief Strategy Officer of The Pedowitz Group, where she manages global client relationships and leads the firm’s thought leadership initiatives. She has been helping B2B companies drive revenue growth for more than 35 years. Qaqish is the author of the award-winning book “Rise of the Revenue Marketer.” 

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