In my recent webinar “Building a Business Case for Localized Marketing Automation” hosted by Gleanster and Balihoo, we explored how organizations with a national or global focus (overseen by a centralized corporate marketing function and a network of affiliate or local marketers) justify investments in localized marketing efforts. During the webinar we asked respondents to participate in a poll that captured top challenges with local marketing. The top three challenges included:
- Visibility into local campaign effectiveness (50%)
- Lack of resources (30%)
- Difficulty justifying investments (20%)
Justifying investments in any technology can be a challenge for marketers. Let’s be honest: most marketers choose a career in marketing to be creative – not to project manage or champion technology investments. But what happens when your ability to execute optimal communications is severely limited by technology and inefficient processes? What happens when your best work never lives up to its full potential because it’s fragmented across different channels or fails to resonate in a relevant way with target audiences? According to Gleanster, 86% of corporate marketers rank personalization as a top priority for capturing higher revenue in 2014. But seven out of ten local marketers say they don’t believe corporate marketing is doing a sufficient job at personalizing communications to local target audiences. In fact, local marketers believe they can do a better job. So how do we bridge the gap?
There are lots of nuances and best practices to cover when building a business case – not the least of which is tangible measurement. The webinar and the supporting research Deep Dive “Building a Business Case for Local Marketing Automation” provide lots of details, but let’s cover the top three takeaways from the webinar:
1. Understand your current challenges and have goals in mind for what you want/need to accomplish in the next 1-3 years with the investment.
The biggest mistake marketers can make is insufficiently understanding the challenges and the opportunities for improvement. If you can’t measure the current state of business by operational costs, time spent, and opportunity cost, then stakeholders that are involved in approving the initiative are unlikely to fund it. Show them the challenges and make a case for immediate action. The more pressing the issue, the more likely it will be funded above other technology priorities this year. Try using a process swim lane template to document current and future marketing execution.
2. Justify the investment with real, tangible numbers.
The cost of inefficiency multiplied across dozens or hundreds of local marketing entities often aggregates into a very compelling year one return on investment. This includes the cost of local resources, local agency spend, local spend on redundant technologies, and time spent delivering campaigns in corporate. Local marketing automation also has one unique advantage over other back-office investments – LMA actually impacts sales! Higher response rates from campaigns executed by local marketers, along with the ability for corporate marketing to manage the brand centrally and gain visibility into performance, translate into higher sales. Gleanster used benchmark metrics from Top Performers in an ROI worksheet that allows marketers to calculate potential revenue savings with current internal stats and performance metrics.
3. Learning how to build a business case is good for your career.
This is an often overlooked benefit. But if you look at senior executives and CMOs in some of the world’s largest brands, they typically have a history of shaking things up and being innovative. This includes a propensity to make early stage investments in technology – and a skillset for making an internal business case and driving it to investment before their short 24-36 month tenure as the CMO is up. Marketing is the last frontier for automation in the organization. Think about it: every other function manages execution using best-practice technologies like customer relationship management (sales), enterprise resource planning (finance), or human capital management (human resources). There are technologies that are designed specifically for the nuances of a distributed marketing organization because it’s necessary for managing the complexity of a multi-channel customer experience. Marketers who know how to make that case will be invaluable.
Those are three key takeaways, but there are lots more in the webinar and the research asset. You can also find more tips and tricks from my video on the Gleanster YouTube Channel, compliments of Balihoo.