We are the dashboard for the client’s car: Michael Wolfe

02 Mar,2012



By Tuhina Anand


Michael Wolfe, the CEO of Bottom-Line Analytics, has been successfully providing solutions to his clients to measure the impact of their marketing spends and thereby help them increase revenues. The point being that while the marketing budget remains the same, the revenues increase because of the valuable insight that the analytics team comes out with for their clients. Wolfe who is also a Senior Director, Consulting and Analytics at BBDO Atlanta as well as on the advisory board of Bengaluru based Rainman Consulting was in India for the first time recently and met up with MxMIndia to share how he and his team have been working on helping clients gain maximum on their ROIs.


Q: How does Bottom-Line Analytics help clients in getting the maximum out of a client’s marketing budget?

We look at any commercial enterprises and a very large part of their expense is on marketing and sales. Traditionally there has not been any means to understand what results that investment generates. What I do is develop mathematical models which directly link each and every marketing activity that a company undertakes – be it TV, radio, outdoor, online, distribution or availability of products. These are what we call drivers of the business. One of the things that my work does is that it challenges the idea that marketing is an expense; it is an income- and revenue-generating activity that companies engage in and we simply derive the means to measure that. In developing that we can also measure a means to recommend how companies can improve the performance of their marketing investments by spending the available funds in a much more effective fashion.


Q: How do you perceive the Indian market and do you think that with growth also comes the pressure to maximize ROI?

In India, there is a fairly substantial middle class who obviously have a very significant amount of disposable income. Among the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, growth is happening as far as businesses are concerned and the truth is that wherever there is growth there is also an interest in generating that growth which usually is achieved by marketing. Without any measurement yardstick for marketing, it’s like an automobile which doesn’t have a dashboard, hence one cannot get any reading of its performance. Simply put, we provide that dashboard to our clients for them to understand how well their marketing is performing.


Q: In tough times, does the measurement aspect become much more significant? And how easy or difficult it is to convince clients to go for this kind of measurement?

In the US the demand for talent in marketing analytics and demand for the skill exceeded supply even during the depth of the economic recession. So there has been no lack of opportunity to develop in this profession. We have seen from experience that in the US the demand emerged more during a weaker economic period. It’s when there is pressure on being more accountable with large investment that marketers become more conscious of how each and every penny is being spent and what kind of returns they are getting from it. We are able to quantify the impact of media and marketing and tell the clients what is working and what is not. Moreover, we can help identify aspects that are not working, be it any kind of product, communication, even sales issues or any other external factors, and help clients move their money from non-performing assets to those that will give higher growth. By this we have seen companies seeing an increase of 5-10 percent revenues without increasing their marketing budget. Also from our experience we have seen that companies that are developing at a fast pace is where we somewhat face a challenge to convince them that they need us.


Q: In a market like India, which is not homogenous, do you think any yardstick of measurement can actually be applied?

Our task is difficult in India as there is diverse set of people and preferences. Here, I think the measurement yardsticks become all the more important for marketers as it will give direction on how much their spend is actually reflecting on the revenue.


Q: Does marketing analytics of your kind only help big spenders?

Not necessarily. We have done this kind of marketing optimization modelling for clients with modest budgets. One of our clients was a zoo and we were able to tell them with the help of our mathematical models what kind of animal exhibits work for them, we even looked at external things like price of fuel and weather conditions that might lead to a fall in revenues. So our conclusions look at different aspects and come out with solutions that will help in growth.

At the Coca Cola Company, where I worked earlier, we have even introduced new products based on our findings that have seen a rise in sales. We just finished an assignment for Coca Cola in Pakistan where we were able to tell them which, out of the six advertisements that they had come out with, was most effective. We have been able to help clients in driving their business even from the sales point of view. So there are different models that will suit different kinds of client.


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One response to “We are the dashboard for the client’s car: Michael Wolfe”

  1. Omprakash Banerjee says:

    Good write up. Would have appreciated an illustration on mathematical model/s – be it hypothetical.