Marketing under pressure: showing a return on investment

Contemporary marketing, shopping centre or otherwise, is under enormous pressure to shape up or ship out. Microsoft is scheduled to have their first job cuts in five years after their merger with Nokia, and rumour has it that the jobs to be cut will include marketing and engineering positions. In a struggling global economy, the first casualty is always the marketing budget.

Added to this is the fact that the marketing funds at shopping centre level are usually controlled by the finance people, and in their Rand and cents world, marketing is a liability that makes pretty pictures and creates feel-good warm and fuzzy stuff that does nothing for the bottom line.

Also just recently, LinetteImrie (head of marketing for Pareto), Doug Mayne (MD of Primedia Lifestyle, a shopping centre marketing consultancy), and Vanessa Fourie (owner of marketing consultancy Purple Plumm) became the first three people in South Africa to complete the International Council of Shopping Centre’s marketing qualification. Imrie notes how focused it is on return on investment, and the handy formula that are used to make the necessary calculations.

So whether you like it or not, any strategy or campaign plan that you put together will have to, increasingly, show how you are improving your KPIs (or key performance indicators). Usually these would revolve around foot traffic, turnover, spend per head and dwell time.

What to do? Well, you can lament the decisions that have been made (or are being made), or you can get on the bus. It can be quite interesting to set yourself a measurable goal with a campaign and see if you meet the target. If you don’t, then you can always evaluate, figure out why, improve the campaign elements to ensure future success, or set more realistic targets.

There will, of course, always be elements of marketing that can never be measured. How does one calculate the effect of Christmas decorations on a centre’s turnover? How can the impact of street pole ads be measured?

Even so, it’s a brave new world put there, so get ready to measure it.

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