You know how when you take a vacation there are usually certain things you must see or do at your chosen destination? For example, when you go to Greece, you have to go to Athens to see the Parthenon. While it’s one of the great and obvious things to see in Athens, I find it interesting how your vacation highlights may well end up being about the unexpected pleasures, like a beautiful scene in the countryside or a chat with a complete stranger at a café.
It turns out that networking and marketing measurement are much the same. Both are well worth doing for all the obvious reasons, but it’s the unexpected stealth benefits that may well end up being the most important.
Two days ago, I was drinking tea at Starbucks with a consultant I met in February and her business partner. We were enjoying a fun and productive conversation when it suddenly hit me. I love networking.
I know that love is probably too strong a word for my feelings about networking. Still, now that I’ve fully embraced networking as an integral part of building my own business, I can’t imagine my working life without it.
When I took my first tentative steps into the world of networking, my dual objectives were to expand my network and find clients, the obvious reasons for networking. While networking has proven to be beneficial on both counts, it has been the other unexpected benefits that I've enjoyed the most.
- I've made great friends
- I've built relationships with talented people I'd be happy to employ, work for or with, or recommend.
- I've learned a lot and broadened my perspective.
- I've become a connector, introducing people who could benefit from knowing each other.
- I've become a mentor to students and an advisor to start-ups, and was thrilled to learn last week that the Ryerson DMZ is adding me to their roster of advisors.
I didn't set out to make any of these things happen, but they did. While less obvious than growing my network and finding clients, these unexpected benefits are important and impactful, both personally and professionally. I call them stealth benefits because they sneak up on you. Without warning and undetected, they just happen.
In that respect, marketing measurement is a lot like networking. There are obvious benefits from measurement, and there is at least one multifaceted stealth benefit. The obvious benefits include:
- Finding out which marketing programs work or don't work.
- Knowing where to cut budgets or where to invest more
- Improving overall marketing effectiveness
- Driving better business results
Marketing measurement also delivers the very powerful, and perhaps unexpected stealth benefit of bringing more discipline to the marketing function and the broader organization. Here are three facets of this stealth benefit:
1. You will set better marketing objectives.
Good measurement requires first setting clear and measurable objectives for your marketing programs. If you don't know precisely what you want your marketing to do for you, then how will you know if it worked? As they say, "If you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you've arrived?"
To measure marketing properly, you have to set proper objectives. Without clear objectives, you won't know what to measure or if your results are any good. You'll also run the risk that your measurement might really just be counting, as I wrote about here.
2. Marketing will align properly with your whole business.
Your company's strategic planning and budget setting should guide the setting of marketing objectives. Marketing helps to deliver against the budgeted revenue and profit objectives. When you plan specific marketing programs, set objectives that align with and roll up to those company objectives committed to in the budget.
Measurement is most effective when the whole organization commits to it. This brings the right people from different functional areas to the same table to agree on what marketing success means for the whole business and what to measure. Measurement helps to get everyone on the same page.
3. Your marketing programs will focus more on the right things.
The best marketing delivers more of what I call "Profitable Customer Behaviour". What, when, where, how much and how often they buy, how and how much they pay, whether they are costly to manage or service, whether they refer new customers, etc. all impact the profitability of each customer and the overall business.
To uncover what Profitable Customer Behaviour means for your organization, ask people in different functional areas to complete the following statement:
We'd make more money if more of our customers (did this): (fill in the blank) .
Clearly defining profitable customer behaviour helps to clarify what marketing needs to achieve in order to create the most value for the business. Those clear definitions also force everyone to focus on the impact that various types of customer behaviour have on their part of the organization, and how that affects the bottom line.
Measurement brings additional discipline to marketing decision making, and that can only be a good thing. It may not be the first benefit you think of when you commit to measuring marketing, but the stealth benefit of that increased discipline will happen, whether or not you see it coming.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go sneak up on some more networking opportunities!