What do you think of when you hear the word “marketing”? Fancy advertising campaigns in Times Square? Those hilarious State Farm commercials? That’s what I used to think, too. After all, the dictionary definition of “marketing” is this: “The process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.” I’ve learned over the last 12+ years of my career that marketing, especially data-driven marketing, really encompasses so much more.
How do marketers come up with these genius campaigns? They don’t come out of thin air—it requires a lot of background research and that includes—gasp!—numbers! This applies, more than ever, to direct response marketing. The goal of the IWCO Direct agency team is to create return on marketing investment (ROMI), so we’re not just looking at creating beautiful or hilarious or eye-catching campaigns (those have their time and place, especially when we’re talking branding). The proof is in the numbers—proof that our direct marketing strategy and approach are creating a positive impact for our partners. And in order to do that, yes—we have to do marketing math. And—gasp again!—we like it!
Marketing Math Helps Us Tell the Full Story of Each Campaign
I have pored over spreadsheets and data in numerous roles I’ve had over the years, including this one. I’m not a Finance or Accounting major—I’m a Marketing major. So, while I avoided Finance and Accounting courses like the plague, I still find myself in this wonderful world where marketing math helps us tell the story, and the story is what it’s all about. That story helps guide recommendations and creates a foundation we can build on over time. It helps us better target prospects and talk to customers. It helps us identify winning and losing strategies. And yes, I said losing, because sometimes we learn just as much in a loss as we do in a win, just like losing in sports can teach you a lot about yourself and your teammates.
One of the coolest things we can do in data-driven marketing is read the results of a campaign to show how one channel impacts another. When we use a holdout group in a test—in direct mail, for example—we can show what’s called the Incremental Lift—the lift that is created in other channels, simply by having sent that direct mail piece. It’s really quite fascinating to see how integrated all the channels are and how direct mail can have a huge impact on a multitude of marketing channels. So we test, read the results, do the math, analyze, and make recommendations (and then repeat, of course!).
In short, without marketing math, we don’t have the full story. So yes, marketers really do crunch the numbers in order to give you a complete story and help you create positive ROMI, which is pretty cool, even for a Marketing major.
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