If you can’t do basic math, then you shouldn’t be in marketing. During my childhood I confidently excelled at most subjects, and then I encountered algebra and logic theorems and POOF! My intelligence perception and academic self-confidence disappeared. In college, I thought, “I am smart, maybe I had the wrong teacher and this math aversion was a mental hurdle to overcome. I should take math, it used to be ok, it could be fun”. No. I took a “Math for Dummies” type course titled, “Cultural Approaches to Mathematics”. Perfectly designed for liberal arts majors, we learned about Incan quipus, Base 6 systems and other sorts of counting and algorithms. I passed and decided NEVER to touch math again (except in my checkbook).
Embrace the Math Path
After I entered the work world, I discovered marketing and math go hand in hand. One must use math to measure to prove marketing campaign success. And to answer client questions, such as, how many visitors came to the special promotional website? How many leads did that campaign get to sales? Measurement is vital to bill a client and justify my marketing paycheck. In one of my first roles, I tracked client billings in proportion to the hours worked on projects, resulting in over $11 million dollars that was not billed. After that was uncovered, you would rightly assume the organizations’ work processes changed drastically. Simple math can lead to organization profitability!
The Proof is in the Pudding
You need to have math skills to prove campaign success: a hunch won’t prove it, but it can get you started in the right direction. Your career success relies on metrics. Start measuring something, it matters that you try to make sense of your data to justify your budgets and programs. Learn Excel and create graphs, they can add the punch to your marketing results. Creative, left-brained marketers use must be proficient with analytics, too. And don’t forget measurement takes time. Figure out the growth percentage of visitors to your website, or to a specific landing page. Your investment into numbers can lead your organization to new growth areas.
A pitch, a la Don Draper in Mad Men, entertains, but today’s marketer needs to know metrics in order to justify what types of marketing, the amount of budget dollars to spend on each channel for each audience and determine which metrics matter. If you don’t know where to start, log where you spend your time and where your audiences spend their time. Determine which tools, like Constant Contact, Salesforce, Sprinklr, Google Analytics or others that you can use to measure your online success.
Even though I will never love math, I appreciate the power that metrics bring to successful marketing campaign. Plus, using metrics to help you get the program you want to start, is a usually a brilliant career move. When career advisors talk about jobs which utilize math skills like astronauts, scientists, financial analysts…marketing must join the top of the list.
Originally published in 2011, Marketers Must Like Math has been one of my most popular blogs. It’s been updated a bit, but the message strikes at the fundamental core of business and marketing. Enjoy!