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Do you need more marketing control?

If your sales and marketing people are not getting the kind of results you expect, then now might be a good time to take more responsibility in the marketing function-to do some meddling.

Even though many managers feel that they can control marketing performance by measuring financial results, a growing number of top managers have adopted a more operative posture. Particularly in these tough times, it appears that there is a growing concern that casting marketing is too fraught with risks, or too laden with opportunities, to be left totally in the hands of middle management people, no matter how talented these people may be.

This management style is based upon Ted Levitt's approach-that marketing is a subject uncommonly replete with uncontrolled, uncontrollable, unstandardizable and unpredictable hazards," and it requires the active concern, participating and contribution of all levels of management. Specifically, there is now much more interaction between top management and marketing management at annual business planning sessions, monthly performance reviews and informal meetings.

Consequently, top management's role with marketing management ranges from being constructive critic and devil's advocate to acting as counselor and consultant. In essence, the objective is to exert a positive, supportive and controlling force upon overall marketing strategy and performance but not to get involved in the day-to-day operations and decisions. Control must be improved without repression. Usually, the worst mistake the boss can make is trying to be his own marketing manager. A basic law of physics states that no two bodies can occupy the same space at the same time.

Setting Up A Program

In becoming more involved, there are five significant management decision areas to be considered: What is to be controlled? By whom? How often? With what data requirements? How can we overcome our sales and marketing people's resistance to change?

When deciding what to control, try to select and monitor only those areas of marketing that will have a significant impact upon the foundry's operations and financial health. Sales and profit objectives should be indicated clearly as well as what yardsticks are to be applied in evaluating them (i.e., ROA, ROI, ROS). Growth policies, whether from within or by acquisition, should be spelled out and reinvestment plans outlined.

Carefully explaining these policies is critically important to the marketing program, since major marketing decisions usually depend on the foundly's overall financial capability and need for profit. A particular marketing program may be very sound, and yet it may have to be abandoned or modified in order to make it possible for the company to realize the minimum profit objective established by top management.

When considering who should be responsible for monitoring marketing performance, there are three possible alternatives: top management, marketing management or a combination of the two. Particularly in the present business circumstances, there are two reasons to use a combination approach. First, this approach allows direct marketing management to take immediate and timely corrective action when required. Second, it allows top management to have the necessary visibility, but from a control perspective.

In deciding how often to monitor marketing performance, try to establish reasonable standards that won't be too loose or too tight. In critical periods like the present, the emphasis should be on monthly monitoring, perhaps even weekly monitoring in the case of critical situations. Uppermost should be the question, What is the time period that allows the most realistic and accurate picture of our marketing performance?"

Many foundry marketing information systems could stand a lot of improvement. However, there is a significant trade-off between the cost of obtaining more precise performance data and the value of that information for control purposes. With this in mind, decisions must be made as to what are the most important kinds of information and how they can be provided in the most timely and cost-effective manner.

Overcoming resistance to change may be the most difficult problem in establishing a better marketing control system. Of prime importance will be a constructive and positive attitude. The basic objective of top management should be to help sales and marketing people to become more effective. Practicality of any changes should be addressed with marketing people. And, in implementing changes in the marketing control system, a number of things should be made clear: What specific actions should be taken? When? By whom? What are realistic starting and completion dates? Who should be responsible for implementation and for taking corrective actions? improving Marketing


Effectively controlling marketing is more than just measuring past results and implementing corrective steps. What also is needed is more top management involvement in marketing and a philosophy that strikes a delicate balance between over- and undercontrol and between short-term pressures and long-term needs.

While improved control of your marketing program will not automatically assure success, it will help improve your marketing effectiveness.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Warden, T. Jerry
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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