At the Blue Sky Factory User Conference this past year, I unveiled a marketing framework that I think does a reasonably good job of explaining what’s broken in your company, how to find it, and how to make things better. It’s called Line of Sight Marketing, and it’s derived from Avinash Kaushik’s Line of Sight Analytics, which was in turn derived from Professor Ken Wong‘s Profit: The Ultimate Client Need framework. Here’s how my variation works.
We start at the same place, always: net profit. If you’re not earning money faster than you’re spending it, you’re going out of business sooner or later. There’s no way around that. Everything that we do as marketers, as business people, must have a clear line of sight back to net profit, or ultimately it’s not a priority compared to keeping your business running and your bills paid.
Net profit comes from two gross business buckets: margin (the net profit per unit of action, such as a sale) and volume, or the number of units of action.
In turn, margin comes from income and expense. In order to improve your margins, you have to do things like raise price or reduce the cost it takes to produce your goods and services.
Income is generally a product or service development function – someone like a Product Director determines the features, benefits, and pricing of the product. Expense is generally an operational function, finding ways to reduce the costs of your products or services.
Equally in turn, volume comes from audience and action. In order to improve your volume, you have to do things like increase the amount of audience you have and increase the number of actions that audience takes.
Action is generally a sales function, whether automated or executed by dedicated sales professionals whose job it is to motivate consumers to buy. Audience is marketing’s function – finding people to bring into your community and getting them engaged in what you do.
Put in terms of a formula, Income – Expense = Margin, Audience x Action = Volume, and Margin x Volume = Net Profit.
What this framework provides is a means of diagnosing quickly where your business may be most broken. Generally speaking, marketers are often told to take very tactical actions (“we need more web site traffic!”) without a big picture perspective on what’s truly broken at the company. They are then deeply frustrated in turn by the fact that none of their efforts are generating the results they expect.
For example, if margins are razor thin and there’s no way to convince leadership to add value as a way of boosting price, then no matter how much audience marketing brings to the table, the profit generated will continue to be small.
For example, if action and engagement is low because your sales efforts are lackluster, volume will always fail to shine unless marketing pumps an absurd amount of audience into your business to compensate, making it a numbers race.
For example, if income is wonderful and sales is selling to everyone who walks in the door but audience is negligible, volume will remain low until marketing brings more people to the table.
The wonderful thing about this framework is that it’s relatively straightforward to apply key performance indicators to each of the areas. Price of goods and services, expenses to produce those goods or services, audience size, and closing ratio are all examples of concrete metrics you can assign to each of the areas. Once you lay out the numbers, you know which area of your company is most badly broken, and rather than come up with pat “solutions” that might or might not have any impact (“more Twitter followers will fix everything!”), you can see which area of improvement will deliver the most impact for improving your business.
Explore the Line of Sight Marketing framework and see how it applies to your business. If it’s helpful, please let me know!
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