News From

You Can Use Your Company and Brand Anniversary
to Improve Your Marketing ROI

By Gary W. Kullberg
CEO, Kullberg Consulting Group

Management and marketing journals and conferences have been flooded with discussions about marketing return on investment (ROI). Is this because there are very few meaningful measurements of marketing ROI (much less predictive models)? Or is it because there is a lack of trust in the marketing function, and the communications agencies that tag along?

Whatever the reason, more and more purchasing agents today have been given the responsibility to, measure, evaluate and “purchase” marketing communications services, although their expertise is evaluating tangible, mass-produced products.

Can You Really Measure Marketing ROI?
With thirty years in marketing and a degree in accounting, I fully understand the dynamics of measuring and projecting price/value.

What I don’t understand, however, is how you can quantify the value of a “Big Idea” at its inception, much less when it is fully integrated, internally and externally, into all facets of your marketing mix.

Yet, more than ever, the value of a truly integrated “Big Idea” is being analyzed to a point of no return. The result is that mediocrity is flourishing.

Recently we talked to the Marketing VP of a large organization about developing an anniversary marketing program for his company. Subsequent to our discussions, his purchasing officer requested information on our warranties and guarantees regarding quality of service, written full security with all sub-contractors, indemnity against various occurrences, and more. Do they really think these could possibly predict the success of a program?

With the average tenure of a Chief Marketing Officer now hovering at around 18 months, is it their fault that they can’t predict or prove short or long term ROI? I think not.

All marketing and marketing communications disciplines have tried to measure and predict ROI. They’ve done so because it’s a lot cheaper to create one “Big Idea” campaign and keep it running than to constantly create new campaigns, hoping one of them will work.

How Can You Improve Marketing ROI?
The national and global multi-branch communications companies offer one solution – size. Forget about their huge overhead. Ask yourself if you will actually use any of their branches. And, if these branches actually have the ability to work together.

Then, knowing that marketing communications employment is at its lowest level since the fall of 1996, ask yourself if these “survivors” are the people you want to create, predict and improve your marketing ROI?

And, if you’re “only” a $50 million to $500 million company or brand, with the drive to improve ROI, what are you supposed to do?

First, accept that there won’t be a silver bullet to determine and predict marketing ROI.

Such a model would sweep all industries in a matter of years, and all companies and brands soon would be equal and back to square one.

Instead, continue to focus on dollars spent versus dollars received. This remains the most practical and credible answer to this problem, as well as the ultimate determinant of success (and the primary determinant we use for our clients at the Kullberg Consulting Group).

Also, to start to improve your marketing ROI, concentrate on finding experienced, independent consultants who are not tied to extensive overhead and, consequently, the cost of your program. Further, make sure they don’t have a vested interest in selling one discipline over another (e.g., events vs. advertising, packaging vs. the internet, public relations vs. promotion, etc.).

You want the right solution, not the solution that’s most profitable for your consultants. What you really want are knowledgeable, skilled people you can trust. Independent, established experience coupled with trust can be mighty weapons. With these, you have a chance to jump start your program’s ROI.

Anniversary Marketing– A Unique Opportunity
Your organization’s and its brands’ upcoming anniversaries are a unique opportunity to separate yourself from competition over a 12 – 18 month period. This can be a major factor in improving ROI in both the short and long term.

A well planned and executed anniversary marketing program can convey important messages to your existing and potential customers, employees, sales associates, financial and local communities, as well as the press.

Use this singular marketing opportunity to present your vision for the future. Anniversary marketing is not about adding a celebratory slogan to your communications. It is about presenting your past success to set the stage for your future.

Or, as we say at KCG, “Your Past Is the Strongest Criterion That People Have To Judge Your Future Performance”. A 12 – 18 month platform from which to tell your constituents where you’re going based on your past accomplishments.

And this opportunity certainly isn’t limited to companies and brands celebrating anniversaries in traditional multiples of 25 years. In fact, our analysis indicates that nearly half of all significant anniversary marketing programs came from organizations not celebrating multiples of 25 years.

But fully developing this takes time. As Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Improving marketing ROI in not an overnight process.

# # #

Gary Kullberg founded and manages the ten+ year old Kullberg Consulting Group, a strategic partnership of sixty companies representing all disciplines of marketing communications. He is a well respected marketing and marketing communications professional who has practiced his craft in New York, and now Rhode Island, for over 30 years.

He can be reached at 401.886.5001 or

171 Forge Road North Kingstown, RI 02852.1001Ph: 401.886.5001Fax: 401.886.5234
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