Why are you paying for marketing?

Most months I take only a cursory glance at each of my recurring bills: phone, internet, cable, electricity. If the charge looks to be about the same as I paid the previous month, I pay it.

But for the first bill of the year, I make it a practice to look more carefully. Under this annual scrutiny, I saw that my January land-line phone bill included a $6.99 charge for "inside wire maintenance." It's insurance that covers me should hungry squirrels nibble on the phone wires inside my walls. Yes, I know I'm paying $84 a year for something that's very unlikely, but that's not my point.

At the time we moved to this phone service provider about 15 years ago, I made a conscious choice to purchase "inside wire maintenance." And once per year when I scrutinize the bill, I ask myself again, "Why am I paying for this service ?," and I make a conscious choice to renew.

From time to time, you should ask yourself this same question about your marketing programs: "Why am I paying for this?"

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers are spending a lot on marketing. Why? What are they getting for their money? What should they expect?

Let me suggest a few answers:

  1. Marketing helps revenues. Effective marketing should have a positive impact on winning new business or keeping existing business. In fact, if marketing isn't driving revenue, either directly or indirectly, don't pay for it.
  2. Marketing tells your story. Good marketing people can clearly explain what your company makes and why people should pay you for it. This story - your value proposition - is different from explaining how your product works.
  3. Marketing helps you win positive recognition and generates trust. People buying SaaS solutions in particular need to trust you. With a SaaS solution, customers are not just buying a product; they're buying a promise, a promise that you'll deliver services over the life of the subscription.
  4. Marketing accelerates the sales process. Effective sales enablement tools - a web site, presentations, collateral, on-line demos, case studies, etc. - move prospects toward a purchase. And they should do it more cost-effectively than, say, a direct sales force working without marketing support.
By the way, the voluptuous redhead pictured here is Calliope, the Greek muse of Epic Poetry, a darned good storyteller in her day. That was before they called them "marketers."