Outcome-based Marketing: It Will Change the Way You Market in 2011


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“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” You can either attribute this quote to UCLA Bruins football coach Henry Russell “Red” Sanders at a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo physical education workshop in 1950. Or you can credit the passage to American football legend, Vince Lombardi, who is on record using the quote as early as his opening talk on the first day of Packer’s training camp in 1959. I’ll leave it to the football aficionados to work it out.

This is a quote I never dared share with my two sons and daughter while I was their little league coach. The quote made the hair bristle on the back of my neck. What about fair play, good sportsmanship, or trying your best; even if, at the end of the day, your team lost the game?
There’s a movement afoot today that says everyone is a winner. There is no second or third place. Every child that participates in a sport should receive a trophy at the end of the season. Are they saying Lance Armstrong should share his nine Tour de France wins with those who finished behind him? Is Michael Phelps somehow hording his 16 Olympic swimming medals? This talk needs to be relegated to the kitchen table, certainly not the board rooms of successful businesses or any business for that matter.

Companies that consistently finish behind their competitors eventually go out of business. Anyone still have Enron stock in their 401(k), taken a trip on Trans World Airlines (TWA), or had a thirst-quenching Tab Cola lately? There’s a reason these companies are no longer with us. It’s the law of the jungle: only the strong survive.

Thought leaders push companies to survive in good times and bad. When the economy is running lean and when times are flush. These business leaders find a way to grow when everyone else is cutting back. These companies rely on positive “results.” This is where Outcome-based Marketing strategies come into play.

Whether you call Outcome-based Marketing performance-based, results-based, or purpose-driven the focus is just where it needs to be; on the consequence, the upshot, the outcome.

At times, some businesses are more involved in keeping the marketing activities going instead of worrying about positive, lasting results. Is there anything wrong with not worrying about the results? Money is being spent. Everyone has their head down. There’s hardly a free hour to rest. Let’s call this marketing method the “hamster” marketing approach. Keep the wheels turning something good is bound to happen? Unfortunately good things seldom occur when doing the wrong activities over and over. Just ask the past employees of TWA or Enron.

Companies have wanted results from their marketing campaigns from the beginning. Somehow metrics and milestones have been left out of the marketing equation. Companies seem to be focusing more on activities than outcomes. Because Outcome-based Marketing is results orientated, it asks these questions: Can we accurately measure the progress the campaign is making? Did we convert more of the visitor traffic this month? Did our cost per conversion go down?

Notice the campaign results deal with finite numbers and not generalities or gut feelings. Over-simplifications such as: the visitor traffic is up, more people are downloading the whitepapers, or we have more Twitter followers than we did last month mean little; perhaps nothing. The results of statements such as these are hard to quantify or qualify for that matter. What were the actions that caused the increases? Are the results reproducible on demand and sustainable? If not, why not? Outcome-based Marketing answers these questions.

Let’s dissect the different elements that make up Outcome-based Marketing. There are Inputs, Activities, Masses, Leads, Outcome Targets, and Outcome Indicators. Here’s a breakdown of each outcome-based element:

• Inputs – Materials and resources used during the marketing activities. The “materials” could be case studies, whitepapers as well as other collateral pieces. The “resources” might be people, time, and money.
• Activities – Processes the business executes during the marketing campaign. Processes such as: e-mail blasts, webinars, blog postings, or podcasts.
• Masses – People made aware of the marketing promotion. The number of people that visited the blog, joined the webinar, or received e-mails.
• Leads – The number of people that took some action as a result of the marketing campaign. For instance, the number of people that subscribed to the blog after reading it or the number of prospects who downloaded a whitepaper after watching a webinar. Outcomes are people that took some action to move the relationship to the next level.
• Outcome Targets – The number and percentage of leads that you need to achieve the stated outcome. For example, the stated outcome might be: 1,000 new attendees to the next webinar series or a 15 percent increase in visitor traffic to the company website over the next three months.
• Outcome Indicators – Observable and measureable “milestones” toward the Outcome Target. For instance, if a marketing campaign is launched and it generates a 5 percent increase in visitor traffic in the first month. Then it is likely the visitor traffic will increase by 15 percent after the third month. The Outcome Indicators let you know if the Outcome Targets are realistic and achievable or if other

Activities need to be added to reach the marketing goal.
Here’s how an e-mail campaign might look using the Outcome-based Marketing strategy:
• Inputs – messaging, the e-mail sent out, and newsletter
• Activities – sending out the e-mails
• The Masses – list of recipients
• Leads – those that sign up for the newsletter
• Outcome Targets – 1,000 new subscribers (short-term goal), 20 to 30 new partners (long-term goal) (2-to-3 percent return)
• Outcome Indicators – e-mail service to track: non responders, opens, bounces, click-throughs, unsubscribes and new newsletter subscribers

Are the results created by Outcome-based Marketing reproducible? If certain activities increased the visitor traffic to the website by 5 percent the first month, will another 5 percent increase be generated the second month?

Granted close attention has to be paid to all six elements of the Outcome-based strategy. The Inputs have to be compelling. The Activities have to be well orchestrated. The Masses have to be of good quality and the Leads have to be measurable. The Outcome Targets have to be made up from achievable numbers and the Outcome Indicators need to be pertinent, closely watched and calculated.


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