CTO Tries To Crack The Marketing Code

How Hard Can It Be?

 “Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree
than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.”

— Captain A. G. Lamplugh, British Aviation Insurance Group, London. 1930’s

Technology is to a large degree analogous to flying an airplane.

There is preparation, execution, and measurement of success.  “Off” does not equal “On” and I cannot look a client in the eyes and say that we are “60% successful” much like a pilot of an airliner can not say “we sort of landed”.  So when I begin to try to answer the question “How do I drive revenue through modern marketing?” (which includes social media), I must confess I have been flummoxed as of late.  How hard can it be?  We all buy and we all sell, but it seems that this is a mysterious business process.

Consummating a sale is not just concluding the “magic promise” of marketing.  All business professionals should have respect and admiration for excellent relational sales people – their colleagues and often quite literally “the face of the company”.  When they make sales, the company has the resources to pay the staff and grow.  Marketing’s job is to till the soil of the market and provide an environment where the value proposition is strong for when the sales pros go do their thing.

But lately, there is in my humble estimation, a whole lot of modern snake oil being sold in the area of “Social Media Marketing”.  It is true that we cannot depend on television commercials, newspaper ads, and radio spots to sell in the modern world, no matter how good our product is.  We must build excellence in modern channels which include going to where the customers are.  And invariably, they are in social media (whether that is LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube).  Therefore, we need to go present ourselves, our value propositions and our key differentiators in those places.  We should be having fun and creating great content that those potential customers can embrace.

However, like aviation, finding a good instructor may be the difference between life and death.  OK, maybe more accurately between financial life and death.  Would we be OK being trained how to fly a plane if our instructor said that when we fly solo, we have somewhere between a 30% and 90% chance of landing well?  Would we be patient enough to live with random, arbitrary results like that?  It surely seems like learning how to drive real R (Revenue) in the ROI equation within Social Media Marketing is like spinning a chance wheel with a flight instructor of the week.

So this technology executive is on a quest to learn what those actual controllable elements are within the modern marketing toolbox and create a repeatable, dependable “engine” that can both delight customers and deliver consistent ROI.  I am not interested in the following aviation-snake-oil buzz terms in isolation:

  • Expanding My Audience
  • Building My Social Media Presence
  • Generating Followers

and for the love of all that is good:

  • Getting Likes

I am only interested in something that actually works and provides consistent returns.  We have better tools, connectivity, and resources than ever before.  Indeed, what I have been delighted with in today’s modern technology toolset is the following power tools:

  • Content Automation (awesome)
  • A/B Testing (rockin’)
  • Targeted Ads in Real Time (powerful)
  • Automated Email Squeeze Pages (wow!)

But the ultimate report card for me, my company, and for my rational executive colleagues is the following:

  • What is the Return on Investment?

where Revenue = Dollars and Investment = Time and Cost of that activity.

Anything else is like paying for expensive aviation fuel, pouring it into an art project on my wall that looks like a complex rube-goldberg flying machine, and then waiting for dollar bills to come flying through the half-open door.


I am hoping to bring the discipline of science, the art of honest relationships, and the precision of technology to develop a “Marketing Engine” that will pay for itself.  Does such a marketing engine already exist?   There are unlimited articles accessible via Google that tell us how to spend inordinate time “being busy” – but precious few equations or blueprints to tell us how to make the engine.  We must measure success in actual R (Revenue).  Anything else is really just like a crazy complex and busy machine, sitting there on the wall.

How hard could it be, really?