Marketing Bullseye 4: Scalable Programs

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A couple posts ago I talked about the P&L aspects of marketing cost scaling. A key factor to marketing costs scaling is for marketing programs to scale. In effect, any marketing initiative or process  created should be sustained and optimized for less resources over time.

The best marketing programs are those that get set up, perform, and don’t require my attention. This is and was my philosophy as a marketer and online retailer, and I’ve heard this from many of our online retailing clients now. Some may require attention, but for the same effort, grow in impact over time.

Examples of Scaling marketing programs:

  • Online affiliates programs, where others sell your products for commission
  • Automated RSS Feeds
  • Blogging — for same weekly effort, as time goes on more people link to you increasing your search impact
  • Search engine marketing (except for the costs going up) you can set it up once and it can run and optimize with limited bandwidth.
  • Web site functionality — features that live on the site with one time cost which drive conversion or attract new customers (could drive word of mouth).
  • Email newsletters — same effort each email can drive more results as email list grows and we test/measure as part of the process to make them more effective.

Marketing programs that don’t scale include:

  • Custom marcom, letters, or mockups for every prospect that calls.
  • Advertising campaign that requires new creative often, rather than using creative templates or getting more out of one creative.
  • Custom direct mail that requires a lot of versioning and effort each time, but delivers limited incremental lift each mailing.

It costs signifant time and effort to set up a new program or process — much like it costs a lot more to attract a new customer than to keep one.

Whenever considering any marketing program, consider the maintenance, support, and optimization requires to get the same results or more out of that program over time. All effort into the sustainment of that program is effort you forego to create a new one. As a colleague once said, "Is the juice worth the squeeze?"

Another consideration is to people-proof the program. Any program that requires specific expertise or specific person to run or optimize that program can be orphaned or sub-optimized when that talent leaves. Programs with good process around them and can be managed by multiple people have a good chance of sustained impact.

As part of your bullseye marketing prioritization process, consider the factor of resources to sustain and upside opportunity to optimize. Consider your time as working capital, and you want the best return on capital as possible.

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6 Responses

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