Ever wonder what the biggest part of a company is?
“Marketing,” Gunner Technology CEO Cody Swann said. “Of course, there are a few exceptions, but those prove the rule. Marketing is, by far, the biggest part of most companies.”
Big enough that most companies break it into it’s own direct branch of the company.
“That’s certainly one way to do it,” Swann said. “And a popular one at that. But we align it under business development because marketing’s end goal is getting work, which is the overarching function of biz dev. Biz dev is getting the work. Product dev is doing the work.”
Several other functional areas lay within marketing
Advertising is the placement (where) and the creative (what) of marketing.
For example, a company may run a Video ad (what) on Facebook (where).
“This is the arena of the creative folks,” Swann said. “It takes a strong right-side of the brain to create a good, creative and effective ad.”
Research is the process that determines what audiences (who) to show an ad to at what time (when) and what the desired goal of the audience (why)
“And then we have the analytical folks,” Swann said. “The left brainers. This team is crunching numbers to see what resonates with who.”
Creating an audience isn’t as easy as it sounds, Swann said.
“As a software development company, we can’t just say ‘Show this ad to people who need software development,'” Swann said. “There’s no central repository where people register their needs. In fact, most of the time, people don’t even know their needs.”
Instead, the research team has to use data available from several sources.
A pipeline is a funnel-like structure that moves members of an audience from one affiliation to the next.
“Pipelines are important because they’ll show you if you’re marketing is working,” Swann said. “This is the left brains, working with the right brains to put together a logical progression we hope to move people through.”
One tough part with pipelining is that, usually, companies won’t know who an individual is.
“For example, your first stage might be ‘Know,’ which is people who know about your company. Simple brand awareness type stuff,” Swann said. “The next step is ‘Like,’ but you won’t know that Bob from New Jersey went from ‘Know’ to ‘Like’, you’ll know that 200 people moved from Know to Like.”
This leads to another import function of marketing: Reporting and Analysis.
If 200 people moved from Know to Like this month, but 2,000 people made the move last month, why was their a drop-off?
Maybe this month was intentionally different and the company’s marketing priorities weren’t on Know to Like, but some other stage in the funnel.
Or maybe the company is seeing dimensioning returns on the dollars it’s spending.
“Reporting is one of the hardest parts of marketing,” Swann said. “Because, again, you can’t ask the person why they didn’t like us. You have to use data to make inferences. And the worst thing you can do is not have an explanation as to why your marketing is or is not successful.”
One thing that Swann said surprises some people is the lack of networking from the branches of marketing.
“I think it’s perfectly reasonable to put Networking under the marketing umbrella,” he said. “We don’t do it at Gunner because it’s a totally different process, requires a totally different skillset and is much closer to the close, if you will.”
However, a critical factor in marketing that often goes overlooked is the content strategy.
This is almost an editorial guideline of what types of content the company is going to produce, who’s going to do it, why they’re doing it and when they’re going to do it.
“Advertising is a type of content,” Swann said. “But so are press releases, podcasts, books, blog posts, white papers, case studies and on and on. It all needs to be intentional and planned. Rarely does anything accidentally work.”
And whether you’re paying for content indirectly through employee salaries or directly through advertisement placement, all of this has a cost.
But how does a company figure out how much to spend on marketing?
“This is why nothing is accidental and why you have to methodically track everything you do with marketing,” Swann said. “Remember the pipeline we talked about? If you want to have any idea how much to spend on marketing, you have to place a value on each step of that marketing funnel.”
For example, if someone at the Like stage has a 1% chance of becoming a client or a customer and a client is worth $10,000, the company should spend up to (but not including) $100 on marketing for the people in that stage of the funnel.
Of course, it’s never that simple.
“It’s not simple because it’s multiple stages,” Swann said. “So no one really goes from ‘Like’ to client. They’ll go for ‘Like’ to ‘Trust’ and then from ‘Trust’ to ‘Engage’ and it’s only THEN they enter our sales process.”
In cases like that, the company needs to track the cost of moving someone from each step forward, which is critical to know if the marketing is working or not.
“If we’re paying $101, instead of $99, we’re losing money and something needs to change,” Swann said. “Either we’re not reaching the right people or our message isn’t effective or a combination of the two. But one thing’s for certain – we can’t go for long marketing at a loss.”