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Mine For the Growth Blocks

Key #3 of 10 to Inspiring Action: 10 Keys to the Future of Marketing. Check out Follow The Money  for Key #2 and download our summary poster of the 10 Keys here.

A marketer I know has himself twisted up like a pretzel inside.

He’s following the rules of marketing as best he knows them, and what they all add up to is making less and less sense.

The membership service he is charged with marketing spends just less than half its paid media money on digital advertising. In this realm, my Tums-popping friend remains an extremely disciplined direct marketer of the old school. He believes each tactic and channel must pay for itself in sales. The search advertising must pay for itself with memberships brought in through search advertising. Mobile sign-ups are mobile sign-ups,and nothing more. Retargeting returns are calculated based on retargeting conversions only, and so on.

Attribution across multiple digital programs, which he allows might generate a higher return on his marketing spend, would fuzz his perfect accounting. He could no longer be sure of anything, and he feels that knowledge is power.

For example, he and his team have tested display advertising several times. The search sign-ups increased during these modest tests, but when he measured the display on display sign-ups alone, it didn’t reach the allowable. So, no display!

Sounds like a tidy, orderly world, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s a false order at best. This system doesn’t account for the influence of one channel on the results of another. We all know that ignoring a reality doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Worse, it isn’t working. The greater portion of this marketer’s budget is spent on TV. You’ve seen it. Anyone who knows anyone with a TV has seen it. He’s tried everything to figure out how to attribute sales to his television spend, but he just can’t. He’s tried pulling the TV, but then his volumes plummet. On the other hand, no change in schedule, and no other form of testing, has ever been able to demonstrate a lift in memberships.

So, this marketer lives in two worlds, one with an insane level of order and accountability, and the other with absolutely none.

Somehow the business got to this level with this system, but the efficiency of the marketing is decreasing, new memberships are more expensive every day, and higher levels of television seem to have no effect on sales.

It’s a serious Growth Block. He’s stuck and they’re stuck. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Attribution is, no doubt, one of the biggest challenges in modern marketing. Direct marketers want to test and learn, but the interactions among multiple channels create noise in their tests. Some are better at tolerating the noise than others. Some orchestrate that noise into a symphony of sales and brand building.

Those of us who view the experience from the customer’s point of view realize it’s the mix that matters. Those who believe that only the last click counts, that impressions are meaningless after ninety minutes, and that advertising in one medium has no effect on results in another, are most definitely running the wrong advertising.

Get smart about attribution while getting the creative you need to build your brand and sell too. That’s how successful modern marketers scale.