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  • Debbie Schwake

Why Revenue Marketing?

Updated: Feb 26

Revenue marketing is the differentiator for marketing leaders seeking real credibility.

The Fournaise Group in 2012 pointed out that "almost 80% of CEOs didn't trust marketers because they are too disconnected from the financial realities of the company."

Harvard Business Review's Kimberly Whitler summarized, "Something is going very wrong in the relationship between CEOs and CMOs… 80% of CEOs don't trust or are unimpressed by their CMO. In comparison, just 10% of the same CEOs feel the same way about their CFOs and CIOs."

The most alarming thing about these statistics is that I recognized myself in that statement. And it struck a note with my competitive side to take action. I had to get my marketing into the revenue camp.

What does everyone want more of? Predictability.

While this will still evade us in many ways because no one has that proverbial crystal ball, marketing must stop being the most unpredictable department in the building.

Marketing must stop being the most unpredictable department in the building.

What is the Revenue Marketing Camp?

The term "revenue marketer" was first used in 2010 by an early thought leader and author, Dr. Debbie Qaqish. Interestingly, the industry said in 2018 that less than half of marketers focus on revenue as a driving metric, even while analysts like the Aberdeen Group say that sales and marketing alignment can lead to a 32% increase in year-over-year (YoY) revenue growth.

However, you must live and breathe revenue if you want a seat at the strategic revenue table. Revenue is not only the way company performance is measured but also the way the company plans, measures and achieves growth.

Once you determine how to measure revenue, it's time to make sure it's profitable revenue. But we'll get into that later.

What does Revenue Marketing include?

Everyone loves checklists. The psychology of putting Xs in boxes makes us feel as though we've accomplished something important enough to have been included on a list. But I caution you that the following list is not easy to simply check off. Revenue marketing is a cultural transformation that starts with the marketing leader, runs through the marketing and sales teams, is championed by the executive leadership, and is at least minimally understood by all members of the company. This may be the most complicated marketing challenge you have ever faced.

Revenue marketing is also a core mindset that continues to focus primarily on revenue as the only metric that matters in the ROI equation.

  • Sales and marketing alignment - to the point of marriage

  • Target account management, customer expansion, and opportunity trajectory

  • Persona identification and targeting

  • Commitment to delivering a percent of revenue or a return ratio on marketing investment (ROI or ROMI)

Here's when you know.

How many times have you been asked by your CEO to run a promotion or to create a PowerPoint deck? All the time? Same here.

But the day your boss asks if this promotion or that presentation will drive your revenue outcome, you know you've begun transforming your marketing culture.

It's truly not easy to break hundreds of years of belief that marketing is, as Artillery Marketing's founder, Douglas Burdett, "the arts and crafts party planning department." I often wonder when terms like advertising might go away.

Marketing as an expense or a revenue machine.

Marketers are experts in budget defense - and for good reason. Cutting an expense for an outcome you cannot see or guarantee is straightforward. And while volumes of content have been written on the importance of data, we can agree that nothing stops an argument faster than data.

Your starting point is to look back at the revenue contributed by marketing during your last fiscal year or a rolling look back using an increment of time. From there, you'll want to develop your forecast model. This is where the budget defense ends. For example, when you can say that a given amount of marketing spend will result in a particular revenue result, your forecast begins to take shape. Further, you have a potent tool when you can model this in a formula that adjusts based on the inputs.

As with sales forecasts, this methodology is undoubtedly not bulletproof. However, with technology, this can be measured in real-time. Critics might question your data, and you can almost guarantee they will, but stick to your model. When you consistently use the same variables and data points, you will see how your model drives your decision-making over time.

Nothing stops an argument faster than data.

Revenue marketing aligns perfectly with account-based marketing (ABM) because you're ultimately going for a particular revenue target within your account(s).


Revenue marketing is life-changing for the marketing leader. Your relevance and credibility at the revenue table solidifies when you can transparently show your math. Your executive team colleagues deeply understand the equation because you're rallying around the same goals. And budget decisions become more about investment than expense.

Your Call to Action

Embracing revenue marketing and redefining the role of marketing within your organization can be complex and filled with unique challenges. Whether you're looking to refine your revenue marketing strategy to drive measurable growth or you're a marketing leader seeking to enhance your credibility and impact within your company, I'm here to guide you.

With a wealth of experience in transforming marketing approaches to align with business goals and mentoring marketers to achieve their full potential, I invite you to reach out. Let's collaborate to unlock the full power of revenue marketing for your organization, ensuring your marketing resonates with your audience and significantly contributes to your company's success. Together, we can turn your vision into reality, fostering a culture of accountability, growth, and innovation that positions you at the forefront of your industry.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does revenue marketing align with or differ from traditional marketing strategies?

Revenue marketing represents a paradigm shift from traditional marketing strategies by focusing intensely on generating measurable financial results rather than creating brand awareness or engagement. Traditional marketing often emphasizes the creative and qualitative aspects of promoting products or services, with success metrics tied to reach, impressions, or engagement levels. In contrast, revenue marketing zeroes in on quantitative outcomes, specifically how marketing efforts contribute to the bottom line. This approach demands a deep integration of marketing activities with sales objectives, leveraging data analytics to drive decisions and measure success in terms of revenue growth. By aligning marketing strategies closely with revenue generation, marketing leaders and company CEOs can ensure that their marketing investments directly contribute to their financial goals, offering a clear and compelling ROI that justifies marketing spend. This shift enhances the credibility of marketing within an organization and ensures that marketing strategies are fully aligned with the company's overall business objectives.

What specific challenges do marketing leaders face when transitioning their teams to a revenue marketing model?

Transitioning to a revenue marketing model presents several challenges for marketing leaders, including shifting the team's mindset, integrating new technologies, and aligning with sales and other departments. One of the primary hurdles is changing the traditional view of marketing as a cost center to seeing it as a revenue driver. Stakeholders must understand and support the new approach, which requires a cultural shift within the marketing team and across the organization. Additionally, marketing leaders often need to introduce new tools and technologies for tracking and analyzing revenue-related metrics, which can involve a learning curve and resistance from team members accustomed to legacy systems. Aligning with sales and other departments is also crucial for success, as seamless collaboration ensures marketing efforts are directly tied to revenue goals. Overcoming these challenges requires clear communication, ongoing training, and a commitment to data-driven decision-making.

Can you provide examples or case studies of companies successfully implementing revenue marketing?

Of course! Adobe transformed its marketing strategy to focus on revenue impact, aligning its marketing and sales teams around shared goals and metrics. This shift involved adopting a data-driven marketing approach, using analytics to guide decision-making and measure the impact of marketing activities on revenue growth. As a result, Adobe saw significant improvements in customer engagement, conversion rates, and overall revenue. 

Another example is Salesforce, which has long championed the revenue marketing model. By closely aligning its marketing and sales efforts and leveraging data analytics, Salesforce has been able to drive consistent revenue growth and maintain its position as a customer relationship management (CRM) software market leader. 

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