The attribution framework that signals your intelligence

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Welcome to 5-Minute-Friday-Newsletter-02. “The attribution framework that signals your intelligence”. Psst.

Stop trying to MECE the marketing funnel.

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“MECE? What’s that?” Let me quickly level-set. The MECE principle, pronounced “Meesee” was coined by Barbara Minto during her time at McKinsey & Company in the late 60s. It stands for mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive and underpins her other popular framework, The Pyramid Principle for narrative building. The principle exists to ensure: All items is accounted forThere are no overlapping items

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Famously, its application exists as a framework to ensure reports address a whole problem with clarity and confidence.As such, often this framework and way of thinking is embedded within the executive culture. The mindset can trickle down into the questions asked of the marketing team in justifying channel or program level ROI.

This is fundamentally the wrong move.

This newsletter is to explain why that is, and offer a plan for how to create a narrative that can influence a change in the questions you are asked.

Why stop MECE-ing the marketing funnel?(Just made MECE a verb, hope that’s okay Barbara)

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This is why: Most of your attribution framework is for you, not for your CFO.

This isn’t to say marketing can skirt accountability. It’s merely only one part of the question and as such, a specific reporting methodology is required.The reason I often hear “attribution is complex” is because many make the mistake of simplifying it down to one question. They pursue the futile exercise of attempting to build one report that answers all of our attribution questions at once. For finance, for us, for our teams and agencies. Perhaps we do this in the hope we can reduce our team’s burden of reporting and keep them focused on other initiatives, but if we’re really honest with ourselves, it’s just lazy and not intelligent reporting.

Over simplifying attribution leads us to answering the wrong question.

This is what NOT to ask.

“What is the ROI allocation to your channel that doesn’t double count revenue from another channel so we can ladder up all our channels into a collectively exhaustive ROI on our marketing mix?”

This assumes that our marketing funnel looks like this:

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Requests discrete assessments of performance in a linear funnel.

This would be a MECE marketing funnel.

Unfortunately, we know that’s not how the world works. After all, if it did, there would be no such thing as Omni-channel attribution. Life would be linear. It’s in the overlapping multi-exposure, multi-touch combinations that collectively influence prospects through the buyer journey towards the actions we want them to take.THAT looks more like this:

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Understands that to assess the performances of tactics in a multi-touch journey, overlapping ROI and conversions are inevitable to assess performance.

As a program manager, the onus is on you to guide the right question to be asked and answered.

Before we go there however, there’s a fundamental cognitive requirement to master. One that is a test of “first-rate intelligence” according to F. Scott Fitzgerald.Scott is quoted as saying this sign of intelligence is “the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”Otherwise referred to as cognitive dissonance.

The art of being an effective, data-driven marketer hinges on one’s ability to do this.

Here’s why. We must be able to maintain the ability to understand that the reports that serve us and our teams to optimise the mix, will conflict with any attempt to simplify and isolate an ROI by channel for the purposes of investment justification and decisioning.

“But Kate, I have to make an actual investment decision and allocate a finite budget to each channel in the mix. The investment decision is mutually exclusive (a discrete budget for each channel) AND collectively exhaustive (laddering up to one total budget allocation.

”Yep. How’s that cognitive dissonance feeling?

This is the art of holding those conflicting ideas in one’s mind at any one time.In my experience, it sounds a little something like this… 

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This means there will always be two sets of reporting requirements required to be fulfilled for you to be an effective marketing leader.

Here are a couple of quick reference cards with those methods. 

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Still simple, a little more effort, but wholly a more intelligent attribution framework.

Still simple, a little more effort, but wholly a more intelligent attribution framework.

Depending on your mix of channels and activities, your focus (whether it be acquisition, retention or driving marketing efficiencies) and the level of analytics maturity you have established, the execution of the above is going to look a little different for every marketer. However, the overarching principle of presenting a MECE output to finance but quickly pivoting to let go of that idea with your teams is key to effectively managing an omni-channel strategy.

An effective marketing leader knows the art is in holding the two conflicting ideas that “I’ve promised an investment plan that will see us driving X return” alongside managing a marketing mix that seemingly double counts revenue per channel.

Okay sure, I’ll admit it….Interpreting the output of overlapping revenue reports is more complex.In my experience however, much of the complexity can be reduced when we isolate the right question and determine exact methods for reaching the best answer with the metrics we have available. Knowing how to interpret the overlaps and guide a team towards executing the best tactics is another art altogether. One I hope we’ll unpack together in the near future.

One thing is for sure though, the journey to effective marketing mix management with our teams and agencies starts with ditching the oversimplification.In adopting and embracing the cognitive dissonance that exists the two reports required of you, you can feel good knowing you’re adopting an attribution framework that also signals your intelligence.

From here on out, I’ve decided I’ll pop my weekly Meal Prep Routine over in my Wiki-Garden on Notion. You can explore packed lunch inspiration over there if it takes your fancy.


Eating… Boiled egg and spinach cups have been the go-to protein snack this week.Listening to… One of my colleagues Phil Wild (also the Lumery’s Solutions Consulting Lead) gave a cracking Lunch & Learn on reverse ETL. Ask him about it if it’s a topic you’re curious about. Reading… I purchased the official documentation and measurement framework for the ISO 10668: Brand Valuation standards I referenced earlier. More on this to come. Watching… The Bachelor. Yep. In between consulting & writing newsletters I like to switch my brain off sometimes. Connecting… Absolutely pumped that my good friend and Strategy Lead at Milwaukee Tools, Olivia Restuccia, has just joined the committee for Melbourne Networking Group Marketing Women. Fantastic group of women connecting over breakfasts and drinks often. Check them out. 

That’s it for the second instalment. 

Enjoy your weekend & stay curious! 

– Kate

Hi I'm Kate! I'm relentlessly curious about the attribution and origin of things. Especially as it relates to being a corporate girly balancing ambition and a life filled with joy.

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