August 13, 2012 smz-blog

The Marketing Metrics Maze


An interview with Glenda Cole: Vice President, Sponsorship and Center Marketing for Taubman Centers

— Jamie Michelson, President

Marketing managers increasingly need to demonstrate the ROI of their programs. Finance executives need to assess the payoffs of marketing investments. A recent McKinsey survey, presented at the Chief Marketing Officer Summit at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, found that CEOs expect marketing leaders to cut costs and increase contributions to growth. At the same time, the rise of Internet and wireless communication and the increasing importance of word of mouth and sponsorship make marketing resource allocation decisions much more complex. Both marketing and finance executives are under incredible pressure to make every dollar count.

Last month our client Glenda Cole, VP and Regional Marketing Director for Taubman Centers, traveled to Philadelphia for The Wharton Marketing Metrics™ Executive Education program. We recently caught up with Glenda to learn more about the program.

Tell me about the program?
It was amazing. Intense. We were in class from 7 am to 7pm and then had five hours of homework every night. I didn’t work that hard when I was in college. It was fascinating how truly global the class was with marketing and finance professionals from leading companies.

What were big takeaways for you?
How marketing people need to learn to speak the language of financial people. One obvious insight was that marketing frequently speaks in “floofy” words. When in a meeting making the case for funding, we need to speak in terms of drivers of brand equity. And then we need a framework to help us better assess and communicate the returns from marketing spending.

What are you excited about implementing at Taubman?
The dashboard was key. It gave me real hope for demonstrating the value of marketing. Our company believes in research. We measure a number of things including likelihood to recommend, sales/square foot, and likelihood to visit. Capturing those visually in a dashboard will help us better link marketing strategy to results.

Where did social media enter the discussion?
Social media was handled almost not at all! Every participant talked about doing all this while seriously questioning the impact. We saw two areas of measurability: “Net Promoter Score” — a measure of loyalty/affinity — and modeling how GE is using LinkedIn to drive sales.

Were you especially influenced by any of the professors?
Professor Christopher Ittner presented a compelling look at the association between customer satisfaction and financial performance. As a cause and effect, that’s something quite relevant to a mall operator and leading tenants. 

What was a highlight of the five days?
We did a group exercise that including running regression models on a bankrupt beer company. The model looked at how to spend marketing dollars on sales, packaging, advertising, pricing, shelf space … After round one, no one saved the company. After five more models were reviewed in round two, our group controversially beat everyone. We did it simply by emulating the #1 competitor and resurrecting the bankrupt brand.

What do you hope to change in your day-to-day?
I’m going to try to block out an hour a day at least three days a week for thinking.

As proponents of Listen. Think. Do. we heartily endorse that. Thanks to Glenda for reflecting on her time spent at Wharton.

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