Monday, July 19, 2010

Accountability in Marketing

I once attended a breakfast meeting in which the speaker asserted that marketing is all the soft things we do in promoting our businesses that cannot be measured, while advertising constitutes the hard, measurable activities in which we engage. How unfortunate that he, and anyone who subscribes to his way of thinking, is missing out on the lion’s share of actionable, measurable marketing that goes on every day for those who understand otherwise.

I’d like to apply my thoughts on accountability to our in-house teams--the people who make the products we sell, fill the orders, provide services, answer the phones, enter client data, and even sweep the floor. All these things play a role in marketing our businesses--especially if we see our businesses as marketing businesses first, regardless of the products or services we provide.

A number of years ago, I worked with a company that was failing. As I evaluated the situation, I found quality defect issues, equipment problems, low production numbers, and general lack of employee morale. I corrected this situation by establishing aggressive accountability measures; but not in the way one might imagine. Here’s the five-step approach we took:

1. With my executive team, we determined what the company needed in terms of production levels, acceptable reject rates, and so on. These were non-negotiable if we were to succeed.

2. I called our entire team together (yes, delivery drivers, production personnel, office staff…everyone), told them what the company needed out of them, and asked what they wanted to make it happen.

3. They devised their own reward system. It was nothing like anything I would have suggested. It fit well within the financial needs of the company. I approved their package deal.

4. I had to do very little in the way of holding anyone’s feet to the fire. The team became a real team. They helped each other. They kept each other motivated. They collectively enjoyed the financial, physical, and emotional fruits of their efforts.

5. The company’s production numbers, quality level, revenues, and profits soared.

It’s tough to sell products when you can’t deliver. It’s even more difficult when the delivered products are sub-standard in quality. Does this apply to marketing? You’d better believe it!

Look inside your own organization. Where are internal shortcomings thwarting the overall marketing efforts of your company?

Focus on these issues. Fix them. Marketing encompasses the entire client experience. Stop thinking in terms of “marketing” meaning only the vehicles that carry your message to your audience; or worse, that “marketing” is that department down the hall.

What I’ve shared today is just one of many facets of the face of marketing. You may have this one under control in your business. Where else can you apply accountability in your marketing?

If you can’t measure your marketing, you’re doing it wrong. Period.

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope


  1. Excellent pointers. Does anyone have examples of #3 (They devised their own reward system) and #4 (I had to do very little in the way of holding anyone’s feet to the fire.) ?

  2. In the example I shared in this blog, the employees came up with a reward system based on the daily production goals of the company. In a nutshell, when they met the day's production requirements, regardless of what time it was, they were done with their shift. This happened regularly.

    Secondly, when they met the day's quota, they all got $1/hour more for the day. Finally, when they met the quota, they got paid for the full shift at the higher rate, even though they went home early.

    Meeting each day's quota was worth thousands of dollars more than the extra money paid to the employees. And, since production numbers were the issue, it made no difference how many hours it took to complete the day's work.

    With regard to holding employees' feet to the fire, you've probably already figured this one out in the case noted. These employees wanted the extra money. They wanted to go home early with a larger full day's pay. Therefore, they became each other's motivational coaches.

    If someone failed to tow his weight, employees were coming to management asking to have them replaced. They had no tolerance for dead weight. Slackers were messing with their free time and income and they wouldn't stand for it.

    I hope that's helpful!