The Myths of Marketing Metrics: What’s Your Real Return on Investment?


Many of us think about marketing as a simple, linear formula. We invest a certain amount of money into marketing efforts in the hope that this investment will eventually turn into additional sales from customers. As technology allows us to further quantify and measure advanced marketing metrics, we're able to see exactly what these investments are buying us.

However, the formula is not so simple as monitoring sales numbers during a marketing campaign. As brand awareness and loyalty become increasingly measurable metrics, marketers are finding value in numbers and statistics that go beyond sales. Daniel Newman, best-selling business author, explains why brands need to look beyond the final sale in their marketing:

“In fact, selling is not the sole motive, but just one part of the buyer’s journey… And that journey continues long after you close a sale. It may go on for a lifetime, if you are fortunate enough…”

Let’s dispel a few of the myths behind marketing metrics and identify what we can take from each of them.

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Cheering Them On: 3 Exciting Ways Sports Teams Brand for Success

avatarUnbeknownst to many of us, the “brand” we support the most is not a popular restaurant chain, nor is it a line of clothing apparel. More often than not, our strongest brand identification is with our favorite sports teams, and that identification runs deeper than knowledge of our favorite players or love for the sports themselves.

Our teams are our teams because of the values for which they stand for and the memories they represent. Just like the places we choose to shop and eat, our favorite sports teams are successful because they forge an emotional connection with their customers that extends beyond the play on the field. Just like in business, sports teams rely on strong brand identification to create value. Their colors, logos, names, and sponsorships are all part of their business strategy to inspire customer loyalty. Just like everything else, sports are a business, and business is about branding.

Through hours and hours of brand exposure, our brains have come to associate certain colors, logos, trademarks, players, and even songs with teams that we have come to know and love. Steelers’ fans will always identify with the “Terrible Towels” and the hard-working, blue-collar workers from which team derives its name. New York Yankees fans see the iconic pinstripes, worn by likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and they remember their brand’s promise of quality baseball that has developed over the last century. Lars-Haue Pederson, director of TSE Consulting Group, argues in an article for Fiba Assist Magazine,

“Even in the world of sports the number of offers grows (e.g., the growing number of new sports). Therefore every kind of sport, every federation and club has to find a way to distinguish itself from its competitors’ offerings. In a crowded marketplace it gets more and more difficult to differentiate the services offered.”

How exactly do sports teams build their brands up to the fanatical levels they reach? Let’s explore.

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Cause Marketing Revisited: When Does Conscious Capitalism Work?


When we get a morning coffee or take a trip to the grocery store, doesn't it make us feel even better about our purchases when they support charitable causes? These days, it seems like almost every brand has a charitable initiative that allows consumers to “shop for a cause” — which we think is great. 

We examined social impact, “cause marketing” and their corporate and societal benefits nearly a year ago. Yet much has changed since then, as cause marketing tactics have become more and more commonplace. Simon Mainwaring, author and founder of We First, explains the popularity of cause marketing in an article in Forbes,

“…in the social business marketplace, in which brands must increasingly establish why they’re meaningful to the lives of their customers if they want them to buy their products, cause marketing is now one of the most effective strategies for business-building and positive impact.”

Millennials, who now account for nearly $200 billion of spending annually, are the largest force behind this conscious capitalism movement, often choosing to support brands that help them contribute to a charitable cause through their purchases. Christie Garton, founder of UChic (and a graduate of SparkLabKC!), explains in an Entrepreneur article,

“Millennials… demand a 'participation economy' that allows them to contribute, co-create and shape the giving behaviors of brands they love.”

Many companies are now harnessing the power of cause marketing, and they're using it to simultaneously improve both their image and society. Let's examine a few of these campaigns to determine how cause marketing can be an effective tool for our brands.

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3 Crucial Questions to Ask When Building Your Employer Brand


Building a recognizable and trustworthy brand isn't just about attracting and keeping customers. As we have explained before, branding influences our products, our marketing, and even the way we vote. But did you know branding also influences who wants to work for us?

Even if our products are successful and we have a loyal customer base, job seekers want to know about more than just business success when choosing where to work. Prospective employees want to know about our company culture and our employer brand, which are essential to attracting the most talented and creative workers out there. TPD (an international talent management firm) discusses the importance of employer branding in attracting talent, claiming that:

“Prior to getting hired, candidates want to know that they’ll be valued as an employee and gain an understanding of their fit with corporate culture… Firms with strong employer brands attract at least 3.5 times more applicants per job post than other firms in the same industry.”

That kind of boost makes a significant impact on a company's ability to attract the kind of people they need to grow. Let's examine a few questions we can use to help build our employer brand and ensure that we're able to bring in the best talent possible.

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Radical Connectivity: Where Does Innovation Come From?


One of the great joys of the Internet is how much it has simultaneously both shrunk and expanded our world. We now have access to virtually explore many different parts of the world and are also able to remain connected with with friends and relatives no matter far away they are from us. New technologies allow us to share everything with anyone at the click of a button. The traditional hierarchies that once governed communication have been flattened, and technology has left the general populace with more options to connect than ever before.

And it's not only personal communication that has been affected, the Internet has also made for big changes in business. In a Forbes article on digital technology and communication, author Nicco Mele writes,

“Radical connectivity – our breathtaking ability to send vast amounts of data instantly, constantly, and globally – has all but transformed business and culture, bringing about the upheaval of traditional, ‘big’ institutions and the empowerment of upstarts and renegades.”

This week, let's take a look at one industry in which these upstarts and renegades are quickly taking over: the digital money exchange marketplace.

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Steady Breakthroughs: Where Does Innovation Come From?

avatarWhen we talk about innovation, the examples that often come to mind are of significant upheaval and disruption. Consider the way that iTunes completely changed the way we buy music, or how the first television sets in family households impacted marketing and advertising strategies. However, these disruptive innovations are far from guaranteed successes. For every Facebook, there's a Google+ and ten other platforms that never left the trial stage. Some big ideas and innovations may change the world, but there are probably more instances in which ambitious ideas fell flat. 

Instead of reinventing the wheel all at once, some innovations take small steps along the way. This is the route that many innovators, inventors, and business owners choose to pursue: find inconsistencies in the current market and make improvements to an existing service. This lower-risk, less disruptive form of innovation, which arises at a much more methodical pace, is known as incremental innovation. Sandeep Kishore, writer for HCL technologies, covers the power of incremental innovation in a piece for Wired:

“These developments often started with a basic platform which provided an initial framework for additional innovations and improvements.”

While incremental innovations can be seen everywhere — Gmail, iPhones, Rustoleum NeverWet — let's take a look at the incremental innovations that facilitated the rise of one of the world’s fastest growing companies — Netflix.

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You’re Screwing Up Social: The Truth About Social Media Marketing


Have you spent any time watching the AMC drama series Mad Men? While the show won praises for almost a decade for its acting and storyline, my fascination has been a little different: the drastic changes the field of marketing underwent during the 1960s. In many ways, the changes that occurred during Mad Men's timeline reflect the shakeup that many of us in marketing today have observed over the last few years. In large part, both changes were due to marketers trying to integrate new technologies into their strategy and practices. For the mad men of the sixties, this meant doing battle with the first computers and household television sets. In the digital age, this means determining how best to utilize social media in an ever-changing marketplace. 

Since the creation of Facebook in 2004, many in our industry have worked to solve the social media marketing puzzle. First, it was adapting campaigns to Facebook, then Twitter, and now smartphones and tablets. Brands are in constant pursuit of an all-encompassing strategy that connects with customers on every platform. We all want our products, promotions, and ads front and center on whichever screen our customer is currently viewing. But, with over 27 million unique pieces of social media content posted daily, earning our share of that screen is becoming increasingly difficult.

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