Competing for new customers is tough these days. To stand out in your market, you need to create a unique advantage in virtually every facet of your marketing mix – in your products, your distribution, your pricing structure and, not the least, in your promotion. Simply doing the same as your competitors just won’t cut it.
Oftentimes, clients ask us about the value of marketing or, more specifically, the value of unexpected communications. In my former life as a copywriter, I’d make the case that every brand needs to create a unique look and voice that stands above the crowd. But as a creative director, I understand now that when clients talk about value, they’re mostly concerned about the bottom line. What’s THAT value? How much will our mind-blowing idea for a website or online banner increase their sales?
For starters, I’d say it’s impossible to try to ascribe revenue to one particular piece of marketing communications. For instance, launching a revolutionary e-commerce site would likely impact a client’s sales revenue, but attributing all success to that site would be shortsighted. What about the email campaign that likely supported the launch of the site? Or any pay-per-click campaign that drove traffic to the site? Or inside salespeople referring customers to the site? Or every piece of communications the company ever produced that created an impression in the market? The real value of marketing communications must be accounted for holistically, not just in one project or even in one campaign.
That disclaimer aside, there are a number of ways that we can demonstrate how our creative communications create real, financial value for our clients. I’ll cover three of them briefly, just to share some real-world client experiences. So the next time you’re in budget talks, fighting for a fair share for marketing or the subject of an employee review needing to demonstrate what you accomplished last year, be sure to keep these in mind. The math around marketing communications is not nearly as fuzzy as it used to be. It has real value – in dollars and cents that you and your agency can maximize together.
The Big Acquisition
Twice in my memory, our creative communications led to the acquisition of our clients for huge financial windfalls. When SnapTrack came to M/C/C, it was a fledgling startup with a good product but nearly zero recognition in the marketplace. The company was one of the pioneers of GPS-based location technology for mobile phones. Within just 5 years of its founding, we took the company from a relative unknown in their space to one of the hottest in the market. The result was a $1 billion acquisition by Qualcomm.
Our work for longtime client CapRock Communications had a similar financial payoff. Throughout a series of business model changes and restructurings, which Jim Terry covered in a previous post, we worked with CapRock on messaging, brand positioning, advertising and public relations. Ultimately, CapRock found its sweet spot in the market, providing satellite communications to remote, global locations, and we helped tell that story in unique and inventive ways. Within a few years, Harris Corporation acquired CapRock for $525 million, crediting the company’s image in the marketplace as a leading factor for the acquisition.
The brass ring for many entrepreneurs, going public can be paved with both new riches and enormous responsibilities. Once that brand name starts showing up on tickers, marketing communications become even more scrutinized. At that point, marketing is not only responsible for driving revenue but also for creating mental shareholder value, which ultimately drives additional revenue. When one of our clients went public, we completely re-imagined its reliable, cost-effective digital programs and added new, higher-profile broadcast projects that were befitting a NASDAQ-listed company. In this case, the unexpected communications not only drove sales revenue but also helped support share prices. A year later, their share prices were up about 30 percent. How’s that for value?
The Everyday Grind
Let’s get real. Not every company is interested in acquisition or going public. Most just have their sights set on increasing revenue, which is no small feat in a crowded marketing landscape. If that’s you, what’s the value of creative communications for your company?
Well, the number varies for every brand, market and product; but in today’s digital era, we can associate revenue against your spend to determine the actual value of your marketing. For our clients today, we not only track sales through online purchases and elsewhere, we identify moments in time when their prospects move step-by-step closer to purchasing. And through research, analysis and optimization, we increase the frequency of these “conversion points,” creating even more customers and generating even more revenue for their companies. For a deeper dive on that, I’d refer you to this July post from M/C/C analytics guru Shannon Sullivan.
From experience, we’ve learned that every client is unique, and the value of communications varies in each story. But one thing is consistent for all of our clients. Here at M/C/C, the value of creative communications is actual financial results.
No matter who your agency is, we hope your communications are valued the same way.