“It’s time to return to growth.” With that simple phrase, Chief Marketing Officer and blogger, Lisa Arthur, neatly sums up what businesses need to do to grow and thrive in the year ahead. In her regular feature, “The Marketing Revolution,” on Forbes.com, Arthur looks at the past year in retail and offers some suggestions on how businesses can forge ahead. “Let’s move into 2011 with a new attitude, a new outlook and a new approach,” she says. “Channels continue to proliferate. Consumers are controlling our brands in new and different ways. We’re still adjusting, learning how to engage in conversations. We’re re-designing, re-tooling, striving to stay relevant. Yet, at some point, the navel-gazing must end,” she says. “We have to continue with the evolution. We have to take action.”
Marketing has been traditionally labeled as a cost center, but it’s not. It’s a revenue driver, she states, and she offers some steps to help businesses get started back on the right track.
• Drive deeper accountability. If you want to secure, or even better, expand your budget, you need to prove the direct relationship between marketing investment and revenue impact. There’s very little wiggle room today. Marketers need to apply rigor into where that spending goes. We talk about doing it all the time. Now, we need to prove ROI.
• Refine and update your revenue cycle. Sales identifies stages of its processes. Marketing can, too. Once you have formally defined the different phases of the revenue cycle, you can start tracking how prospects progress through each stage. A defined revenue cycle improves transparency and helps reveal ROI.
• Transform markets with customer controlled experiences. Customers control your brand. Discover how to use this to your advantage. Engage in two-way conversations. Create compelling experiences that capitalize on customer involvement. Then, integrate these into your media mix.
• Succeed using execution driven strategy. Outline a game plan. Measure your progress along the way. Respond to inputs and make tactical changes as needed. But, always know your strategy and how it relates to building business value.