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  • Writer's picturewilliam wright

A 'universal' framework for marketing effectiveness

Just listened to the MarketingWeek debate on marketing effectiveness, 'Should Marketers have a 'universal' framework for effectiveness?', hosted by Russell Parsons with Mark Ritson Cheryl Calverley Peter Weinberg Jon Lombardo and Matt Holt . A great debate and 'right on the money'.

Discussion on the effectiveness of marketing is where it all began for me over 20 years ago. It's the origin of AdaptomyDNA. It's critical that this conversation continues like this, at a strategic level and doesn't regress into popular market dicourse with people '10,000 times more famous', talking about irrelevant and sometimes misleading anecdotal concepts.

Three factors for Marketing Effectiveness

I'd say that to measure effectiveness you have to understand three things:

  1. Your current and future customers and the world they live in

  2. Business and customer outcomes and the value you're creating

  3. The system or reference model that you're trying to measure

The first point is a 'no-brainer', except there is a tendancy for practioners to obsess about current customers and forget future ones, or past ones for that matter.

The second point is that 'marketing', is part of a commercial system, a system that creates and distributes value, for the business and its customers. It's part of value management.

The last point, and arguably most important from the point of view of measuring effectiveness is the need for an agreed, or at least well defined system or reference model to set expectations and build the propsects for systematic performance improvement.

There's a problem in marketing

As Peter said, "...there's a problem in marketing where the answer is always...well it right or wrong way...everyone just figures it out on the job.."... well, that's just not good enough. 'It depends' is a reasonable response if you have a system or reference model to explain what 'it depends' means. You need to be able to explain what the objectives and outcomes are, as Matt said, " depends diagnose and get to the biger outcomes..." is the key.

To explain 'it depend' and the bigger outcomes you need a reference model or system, and as Jon said, "...there's no agreed framework for marketing...". I'd say no agreed framework for commercial. Essentially, the disicplines that relate to marketing can eminate from and exist almost anywhere in the business.

As Mark said, "...if you want to see soft fleshy, useless marketing...go to the marketing function (large multi-national headquarters), that's the place where you'll see the worst's out in the field where, in the product team, in the pricing team where there's really proper marketing going on...".

There are great corporate marketing teams in many businesses, but Mark has a good point that functionaly ineffective silo's can easily emerge. Without an agreed way to assess effeciveness, a common framework, contibution and effectiveness can't be measured - which parts of the business have built capability and are making a contribution and whaich are not?

Why build a framework?

The debate completely encapsulates the reasons why I created Adaptomy DNA, a methodology for systematic commercial strategy, marketing, sales, operations and performance improvement. It's a framework that helps businesses build and deliver customer and business value.

What often gets in the way is the term 'marketing'. A while ago I thought that defining what it meant was the answer, I don't think that anymore. It's a functional constraint and marketing can be made up of a wide range of commercial disciplines.

With AdaptomyDNA a definition of marketing doesn't really matter. Rather than focusing on functional outputs we are focued of the strategic and tactical outcomes from a deliberately orchestrated collection of comemrcial disciplines, in line with what Cheryl was suggesting as, focus on critical path disciplines for particular context or circumstance, business and customer outcomes. With AdaptomyDNA you can wrap any organisational structure you like around a set of disciplines and 'functionlaise' them.

A Methodology for Commercial

Through my own analysis and work I've concluded that what's needed first and foremost are:

  • Founding principles that include: an externalised 'outside-in' perspective, a focus on value management, value creation and delivery for customers and the business, a strategic and tactical orientation and an ability to adapt quickly in response to market and economic conditions. Also required, at least to build capability and differential advantage is a 'non-functional', process or discipline perspective, an appreciation of what's required to drive short term P&L outcomes, Balance Sheet assets and liabilities and capital assets or intellectual capital. One more gem, more a 'rule of thumb', suggested to me by David Gluckman in a recent conversation is, "...always try and reduce the distance between the idea and the customer...". This plays well with the non-prescriptive, configuarable nature of AdaptmyDNA.

  • An over-arching framework that's not anchored in traditional organisational, functional or silo'd thinking, a framework that re-sets the agenda and conversation around exploration, management of complexity, re-thinking, propogation, fulfilment and renewal. A framework with an 'externalised' perspective. (I've built this framework, it challenges orthodox organisational thinking to focus on current and future customer outcomes)

  • A clear reference model, terminology and vernacular that focuses attention and shared understanding of specific commercial disciplines, a way to organise debate, learning, knowledge sharing and execution (I've defined, in detail the origin and processes that support 67 of these)

  • A non-prescriptive approach that helps practitioners build critical paths aligned to the business and customer outcomes, a way to shape capability to fit business needs and outcomes (each of the 67 disciplines are configurable, they can be grouped to form focus areas like scale-up, marketing transformation, go to market...)

  • A methodology that accepts the wide variety of roles and capabilities that contribute to commercial success, (not just marketers, but sales people, account managers, computational scientists, technologists, strategists...). As Jon said, "...there are some good marketers in marketing, good marketers in sales...). I'd say the breadth and depth of moderm marketing, commercial strategy and operations must include a range of skills and capabilities that would never have been considered to be part of marketing or commercial, even just a few years ago - systems engineers, bahavioural scientists...

  • A framework to help allocate metrics and measures to capabilities that produce business outcomes, (specific discipline measures, wide-angle metrics, metrics that matter and those that don't, accurate descriptions and use of metrics and measures...)

  • An approach to help business leaders identify and allocate investment in intangible assets and intellectual capital that drive business value (relationship stickiness, connections, brand assets, capability...)

I've been working on this methodology for decades, building it through commercial projects with many different clients of different sizes in different industries and sectors. I did this because I shared the same frustrations and ambitions with Mark, Cheryl, Matt, Peter and Jon.

I agree with all those on the panel that this is important stuff, not helped by some of the more popular anecdotal nonsense around, 'focus on your why' for example, (anyway our approach is always start with 'What if?', then 'Who'). I'd say if you want to undersdtand effectiveness from a commercial or marketing point of view, focus on building capability in specific commercial disciplines and outcomes that really matter to your business and your customers. Often the first challenge will be knowing what these disciplines are and how they relate to each other to deliver value.

I'm no where near finished building AdaptomyDNA and have a great support network of associates and clients, and there are some exiciting things comming down the pipe this quarter where I'll start to share AdaptomyDNA methods and tools with a much wider audience.

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