How to get boardroom buy-in

Translating ideas so that non-experts can understand will help performance marketers get C-suite buy-in.

The difference between being a good performance marketer and a great one is about speaking the language of the boardroom, Vitality’s sales boss says as he outlines the insurance business’ growing investment in the discipline.

Speaking to Performance Marketing World, Greg Levine, Vitality’s Managing Director of Sales & Distribution, says: “The great performance marketers will do incredible work, but they will also be able to translate that work into a language that senior leadership will believe in and put more money into.”

To be able to explain the key terms and philosophies of performance marketing, in a way that a non-expert understands, is crucial, Levine says – noting that marketers sometimes appear to be “speaking a different language” entirely.

Marketers in the boardroom

For years, CMOs have bemoaned the fact their role is often excluded from the boardroom, leading ISBA, the trade body representing UK advertisers, to launch an initiative almost a decade ago to address the issue. Although representation has since improved, it is not a problem that has gone away.

Now, as performance marketing takes on a more significant role within the marketing and business functions, Levine says it must take a clear business case to the C-suite – and demonstrate return on investment beyond the usual measures, including operational costs, to win support.

True performance marketeers take all of that into account,” he says. “They generate a very clear business case, that is very explainable. It stands up in the boardroom - it’s not about sentiment or gut feel.”

Beyond just clicks

Levine, who was previously worldwide sales and marketing boss for McLaren before joining Vitality five years ago, says he also wants to see performance marketing evolve beyond simply “buying clicks”.

At Vitality, that means underpinning it with other disciplines, including data science and actuaries – the latter of which uses maths and statistics to estimate the financial impact of uncertainty, and minimise risk.

That shows how much of an emphasis we've put on this; we put the smartest actuaries behind our machines to actually understand how sophisticated and how effective this world can be.”

Insurance businesses have already invested huge resources into understanding data, analytics and predictability, Levine says. “Why not apply that to performance marketing? All of that skill set, all of that learning, is so relevant.”

How to create luck

For Levine, this more holistic approach is now helping boost prospects. I'm of the philosophy that if you create the conditions of success, it increases the surface area for luck to land,” he says. “I don’t believe luck just exists.”

If performance marketing can serve the right content in the right place at the right time, then the conditions for success are favourable, and the likelihood of landing a sale is increased, Levine believes.

The more insight and data you have to be able to serve up relevant content, the more powerful the machine becomes. And then being able to measure it, that's really exciting.”

Levine, who oversees sales, distribution and retention, also views the “battleground of the consumer” as almost exclusively online; operating a rewards-based system to help its members stay healthy helps deliver ongoing and highly-targeted engagement strategies.

Grabbing attention

What's amazing about performance marketing is, it's also an incredible tool for you to understand your customer and customer behaviour much better… because if you know how to satisfy people’s needs, in a very efficient and effective way, you're going to grab their attention.”

Levine adds it’s a combination of a very clear purpose and narrative, combined with a clear content strategy and supported by an overriding ROI model, which adds “credibility” to the entire process.

I think performance marketing really gives credibility to marketing in general. It provides marketing with a very clear template of metrics and performance measurements, which we can tweak and adjust. It’s effective and very powerful. 

And it's this marriage of the creative genius of marketing with the science of numeracy and data analytics which gives you the perfect kind of environment.”