By Olalah Njenga

CEO of YellowWood Group

I developed an integrated sales and marketing plan for one of my clients. In setting the projected revenue, I was generous, but not outrageous. When the client came in about six months later for our state of the business meeting, he slid a piece of paper across the table. It was a chart of the actual vs. projected revenue. The client was 16.9% above projected revenue. Naturally, I did what any self-respecting marketing strategist would do. I broke out into my happy dance.

When times are good, business owners will cheerfully allocate money for marketing. They are open to bigger, bolder ideas about the impact of marketing. In short, they’re willing to invest in marketing and wait for results. But when times are iffy and strained, the first line item to be eliminated is marketing. At a time when you should toe the line, why do so many business owners abandon the ship?

Most business owners see marketing as a cost center instead of a profit center.

While it was slow going at first, my client understood that marketing wasn’t a line item, but rather a lifeline for his business. He trusted my integrated, sales-centric marketing strategy – and it paid off.

The function of marketing is not the same as its role. There are eight functional areas of marketing, but only one role – to make selling easier, simpler and faster. The role of marketing creates a platform for the functional areas. Marketing is the primary driver of sales. Having a sales-centric marketing strategy will keep you from eclipsing the role of marketing with its various functions.

The shift from marketing as a cost center to marketing as a profit center is based on your ability to incorporate these performance-based concepts in your approach.

  • Marketing is an investment vs. Marketing is an expense
  • Marketing is value focused vs. Marketing is message focused
  • Marketing is capability driven vs. Marketing is intention based
  • Marketing creates relevant impact vs. Marketing creates abstract results
  • Marketing has meaningful metrics vs. Marketing has misleading metrics
  • Marketing answers tough questions vs. Marketing avoids tough questions
  • Marketing cultivates advocates vs. Marketing identifies buyers

If you only think of marketing as a way to “get the word out”, then the cost center/profit center shift is uncomfortable. It’s difficult to accept the notion of protecting the marketing budget no matter the market conditions.

There are no guarantees in marketing, even with the best strategy in place. But if you yearn for different results, then you must be open to a different concept. Achievement expert, Tony Robbins said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” When it comes to your approach to marketing . . . that just about says it all.


Category: Editorial