Top Line, Bottom Line, And Waistline

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, February 16, 2015
Marketers sweat the top line, lead optimizers sweat the bottom line, but executives sweat the waistline.  In this age of machine learning, advanced algorithms and the hype of real-time personalization, looking simply at incremental sales as the driving proxy is an exercise in measuring inputs, not company health.  The leaders of this world want to know how fit you are to compete today and tomorrow, and what exercises you are doing every day/week/month to build sustainability. 

A few tips to help you think about these factors:

Tip 1:  The bar is not the goal, it’s the objective. Intel made OKRs (objective key results) famous, and the idea has been adopted by most Bay Area tech companies, though you rarely hear about it in marketing circles. OKRs cascade through the entire organization down to individuals. What’s most valuable is, they are 90 days long. A few examples:



Marketing Team OKR:
Objective: Increase social media engagement by 35%
— Key Result 1: Research and identify three most popular social media sites among two new target audiences and develop engagement strategy by Sept. 1.
— Key Result 2: Participate in six Twitter chats involving industry leaders.
— Key Result 3: Respond to new Facebook comments within three hours.
— Key Result 4: Increase number of followers on Facebook and Twitter by 20%.

Individual OKR:
Objective: Increase number of social media connections by 25%
— Key Result 1: Increase posting frequency on Twitter to 8x daily and Facebook to 3x daily.
— Key Result 2: Establish social media presence on two sites new to you, LinkedIn and Quora.
— Key Result 3: Join five LinkedIn groups with at least 2,500 members each, and leave comments on the 10 most popular discussions in each group.
— Key Result 4: Gain 15 followers on Quora by posting three answers and one question every week

Tip 2:  How to ask for help. One thing you’ll never hear from a consultant is “Everything looks OK. You really don’t need me.” There’s never a shortage of great minds to tap into, including peers and industry peeps.  But no one knows your business like you do. So if you hire a consultant, use her right. Have her help you sell your company’s leadership on a great idea you had, promoting you as the catalyst.  Worst thing you can do is have a smart person come in, WOW the organization, and then the CMO look at you and says, “And YOU are going to implement this?”

Have the consultant help you tell a better long-term financial story, or do an in-depth competitive analysis with specific goals (like, “show me evidence and methods that  XYZ company used to improve their customer engagement levels”). Make her do the work you can’t with the access you have. Consultants are valuable if you’re specific about what you want out of the experience; the outputs can help impact your 90-day OKRs.

TIP 3:  Market to your two audiences: your customer and your company.   The greatest marketing challenge is getting out of your own way.  You are the voice, the face and the canvas to tell the story.   Think of yourself as a story-teller. It’s your job to evangelize the passion, the reasons for people to be excited about your brand, inside and out, and even “save” the company when needed.  Imagine you were the marketer when a Chevrolet regional manager gave Madison Bumgarner, the 2014 World Series MVP, the keys to a 2015 Chevy Colorado. The manager stumbled when trying to explain the truck, saying it “combines class winning and leading, um, you know technology and stuff.”  Not really the message the brand had hoped for with millions watching, but an epic stumble turned into an amazing idea: #technologyandstuff was spun out and became a trending phrase.

You may be pushing email, but you’re not void of the responsibility to be a creative innovator.  Make it an OKR.

Don’t let old ways of doing things slow you down.

“Middle age is when your broad mind and thin waist begin to change places” -- marketing expert E. Joseph Cossman.

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