WASHINGTON, DC — A panel of business leaders urged the communications and marketing industry to do a better job of proving their impact on revenue during a session on Day One of PRovoke19.

The panel pointed out how the industry has fallen short on implementing metrics that can easily be translated to finance or sales leaders. Without a clear view into the return on marketing and communications investment, business leaders will be reluctant to make investments, in particular, when resources are tight. These were among the points raised in a panel sponsored by Proof Analytics.

“I personally see a lot of good activity coming from marketing, but I’m always pausing on this: what is the benefit the organization will receive?” said Kevin Moriarty, CFO at JDA Software.

Julie Brown, institutional market leader at Johnson Controls, advocated for the industry to think about what activities they are doing that, if they ceased, would negatively impact the business. “Have the courage to stop doing what doesn’t matter and take those resources and put them towards” activities that matter, she said.

“There is so much data and information out there,” Moriarty said. “I would encourage you to work on narrowing it down to three to five C-suite metrics. Then figure out demonstrated outcomes that support those metrics."

Chris Talago, head of PR for Oracle in APAC and EMEA, called for an industry-wide mindset shift towards revenue generation.

“We're in sales,” Talago said. “So if you don't get that, you're probably in the wrong place, in the wrong industry, at the wrong time. You have to ask yourself, when was the last time you went to your executives set and really asked what they want you to do for them?"

Building on this, Michelle Killebrew who leads marketing at PwC New Ventures challenged the industry to focus on quality lead generation.

Proof CEO Mark Stouse, who moderated the panel, said a push towards measurement can be perceived as an excuse to cut budget. Yet this “fear of finding out” is actually keeping the industry from realizing its true value.

“Great marketing and great comms are great multipliers of business performance — and as an agency you are more valuable than your wildest dreams," Stouse said. "[Business leaders] want to understand what they have been getting [from communications], so they can predict — to some degree of accuracy — what they might be losing if they cut budget in your area.”

This point was reinforced several times during the conversation, including when Tom Schodorf (pictured), global sales leader for Splunk, warned delegates how much is at stake as other functions graduate to more advanced analytics.

“There’s been a change in the quality and believability of data from other functions and marketing and comms is not keeping up,” Schodorf said. He said product teams have become well-versed in showing how new features or roll-outs can increase revenue and profitability. “But marcomms seems to be presenting the same slides. They are very pretty, but they don’t connect to what the company really needs.”

“We need to embrace our inner geek,” Talago added. “We need to science the shit out of this.”