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The Value of Focusing on Outcomes Over Outputs

Outcomes over outputs

When I first began practicing Agile, a colleague told me, “I’m impressed by all of the work that your team is producing. But is it producing business results? Or are we running multiple campaigns and generating additional content without generating more leads and revenue?” In other words, were we focused on the outputs of marketing rather than delivering the customer and business outcomes that were the reason for doing all of the work?

He had a point.

Teams that focus on customer and business outcomes and are rewarded for achieving those outcomes produce better results than teams producing more outputs and who are measured on throughput.

More marketing output does not translate into better business outcomes. A study by Amplero Research and Boeing Employee Credit Union, BECU, confirmed this. After implementing a new targeting strategy—personalizing emails to customers— the average customer received just two emails per month, down from 17. However, the lift in average revenue per user attributable to the campaign grew from 0.32 percent to 2.8 percent, a 9× increase! In a three-month period, this resulted in $3.2 million in increased revenue from fewer, higher-quality emails.

The focus on outcomes also transforms marketing from a content factory and cost center to a contributing member of the revenue and profitability team. It changes the relationship of marketing to the business units, aligning the two on common goals.

A focus on outcomes motivates the marketing team. No one wants to be part of a marketing factory, taking orders for collateral and spitting it out at an increasingly frenetic pace. Focusing on outcomes empowers marketers to strategize with the business units, take responsibility for poor outcomes, and reap the rewards of great outcomes.

Take a look at all the work you’re doing. How much of it is clearly focused on achieving outcomes over generating outputs because a stakeholder made a request? Which of your outputs is most closely tied to achieving your desired outcomes? How aligned are you with your stakeholders on the exact outcomes that would most benefit your customers and your business?