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Updated: Sep 15, 2022


Sitting at a Starbucks recently talking career opportunities with a highly skilled marketer, someone with both significant CPG and retail experience, he noted that every recruiter, every company, and in fact every job spec he was coming across highlighted a required and demonstrative expertise in performance marketing.

As opposed to what?

Let me get this straight: So performance marketing, i.e. marketing that performs is now a thing simply because it’s associated with digital marketing that drives clicks, sales or leads?

So when NIKE poured every last cent of $100MM into broadcast to launch Air Jordans, that wasn’t held to a projected standard of performance? The OOH sign for the local news network isn’t linked to performance? The Liberty Tax sign spinner dressed like the Statue of Liberty isn’t expected to perform, i.e. isn't performance marketing?

This is actually not a nomenclature thing, and instead it's a ridiculous example of mass delusion because there is, or rather should never be an acceptable level of anything less than marketing that performs, digital tactics be damned.

Every single marketing dollar should be accountable for ROI, whether immediate or downstream, and every tactic should be held to a performance standard and thereby should be considered performance marketing. Period.

It’s funny. A couple of years ago I was meeting with more than 40 members of an advertising Co-Op who asked me if they should continue their heavy investment in the local NFL team, mostly in the form of stadium signage. When I asked how they were measuring the ROI, crickets, pierced only by the occasional and uncomfortable cough. And these were otherwise shrewd business leaders. (Later, after quantifying the potential of the investment, we concluded that the spend could be reduced by 50% while at the same time delivering a 3:1 ROI based on new interactive in-stadium performance tactics).

That investment, no different than an SMB's window signage should be considered performance marketing just as much as the current and insane spends on AWS.

Bottom line: All marketing is performance marketing because the alternative implies, with absolute and unadulterated certitude, that there are tactics where it’s okay to waste precious investment spend.

So if you’re a marketer who pops for a sign spinner just because your kids think it’s cute, or spends money on stadium signage for the free seats, or you make yourself the star of your DRTV campaign just so people want to grab a selfie with you, then knock yourself out. But for those of you who think that the new definition of performance marketing is all that counts, make sure you start counting the ROI of every tactic you employ.

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