Marketing Success Defined

How do you personally define success? High income? Substantial net worth? A fine home? Peer recognition?

On a personal basis, there are likely almost as many definitions of success as there are people in the world.

In marketing, though, there are just four measurable elements of success:

Profitability, Market Share, Customer Satisfaction and Customer Retention.

Profitability requires little explanation. The very reason businesses exist is to make a profit, or generate more revenue than they pay out. Profitability may be increased by reducing overhead and the cost of goods soldóor by increasing the price to the buyer.

But prices can only be raised so much. Per the laws of price elasticity, as prices rise, unit sales tend to decline, as does Market Share; which brings us to our next measure of marketing success.

Market Share, as a measure of success, is important to marketers since the greater the share, the more stable the brandís performance is in the marketplace. A product with 65% market share is a force with which to be reckoned. A product with 3% share is vulnerable to a variety of market factors such as competitive pricing, promotions, loyalty to better-known brands and more.

Financial managers understand the impact of Profitability and Market Share. But concepts such as Customer Satisfaction and Customer Retention are softer items and tend to be treated as lesser by those managers. Yet, the long term success and growth of a brand is highly dependent on them.

Customer Satisfaction doesnít appear on a balance sheet. It canít be measured in dollars and cents. Itís measured by the customerís feelings about a brand. Does the brand deliver its promise? Is it a good value? Does it bring status to the owner? Is the customer generally happy with the product? Customer Satisfaction begets repeat purchases, loyalty, word-of-mouth advertising and, of course, long-term profitability via Customer Retention.

Customer Retention, the final measure of marketing success, is closely tied to Customer Satisfaction, Profitability and Market Share.

A satisfied customer is likely to remain loyal to a brand, thus enhancing market share over the long-term, as new customers are acquired. Retained customers increase the profitability of a brand. In the course of acquiring new customers, retained customersí purchases can be counted on for continued profit performance.

Itís widely known that itís five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an old one. Makes you wonder why marketers donít generally invest more in Customer Retention, doesnít it?

Few business organizations focus on all four elements of marketing success, probably because theyíre difficult to balance and manage as separate items, yet theyíre strongly interdependent.

The four elements of marketing success are reasons enough for financial managers and marketing managers to gain a better understanding of one anotherísí disciplines and work toward the common good of their companies.

Mark Levit is managing partner of Partners & Levit Advertising and a professor of marketing at New York University. Partners & Levit is an aggressive marketing services firm leveraging branding, advertising, sales promotion, direct response, seminar and event marketing, the Internet and other channels to guide prospects along a continuum until they become your loyal customers. To learn more visit or call 212.696.1200.

Mark S. Levit