A Note of Caution


Introduction

I had an interesting experience at the bank the other day so I thought I’d tell you about it. I was a little worried about what might happen at the bank, just as you might worry about deciding which marketing programs to execute.

It turned out that I had nothing to worry about and if you measure your marketing, and follow my five measurement principles, you can ease your worries, too!

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As I handed the bank teller my carefully crafted note, I worried about how things were going to turn out. I had taken a cautious approach with my note, but I couldn’t control or anticipate the teller’s reaction.

Normally, notes handed to bank tellers might say something like “This is a hold-up” or “Put all the money in a bag” or in Woody Allen’s case, “Abt natural, I’m pointing a gub at you”. My circumstances were different, so I needed a different approach.

For one thing, I actually wanted to GIVE the bank some money. Well, not exactly “give”. I wanted to deposit a cheque from one of my clients into my business account. The other circumstance at play was that I couldn’t speak, not one word.

Before you start thinking that I bank at one of those new all silent branches, allow me to explain by sharing the content of my note:

“I’m sorry; I can’t speak temporarily while I recover from vocal cord surgery. I’d like to deposit this cheque into my account.”

Thankfully, the teller didn’t panic, the deposit went smoothly and I escaped the bank silently, without speaking a word to anyone.

It is natural to worry about taking actions or making decisions with uncertain outcomes. It is also natural to want better information to help us make better choices.

Marketers face difficult decisions and a lot of uncertainty every time they have to choose which programs to fund in their efforts to attract and acquire customers. In the absence of data or evidence of how similar programs might have performed in the past, such spending decisions become significantly more difficult.

To improve your ability to make good marketing spending decisions, you need good data about the performance of past marketing programs. The purpose of marketing measurement is to support making better marketing spending decisions.

There are many ways to approach marketing measurement. Whatever approach you take, be sure to follow these:

Five Marketing Measurement Principles

1. Pick & Stick: Choose one measurement methodology, apply it consistently across all programs and stick with it. Without measurement consistency, you end up with silos of data around each program that are difficult to analyze and compare.

2. Set Good Objectives: You’ll need to measure your results against your objectives. Integrate measurement into your marketing planning to force setting well-defined and measurable marketing objectives, for the overall organization, the brand and for each program.

3. Involve the Right People: Measurement works best when you have input and support from other parts of the organization. You will need other key individuals to agree that your approach is sound and that the results of your measurement efforts are meaningful. You may also need them to provide you with good data.

4. Use Good Data: Whether you use a complex and sophisticated methodology, or a scorecard, it won’t matter how good your approach is if your data is garbage. Be hard on the quality and reliability of your data to properly support your measurement methodology.

5. Compare & Learn: To learn what works and what doesn’t, and to find the best ways to spend your budget, you need to compare results to objectives and programs to each other. Seek answers to questions like:

  • Did we get the results we wanted for the company, for the brand and for the program?
  • Which of our programs, and in general which types of programs, seem to be the most and least effective at delivering the results we need to meet our business objectives?

When I handed my note to the teller, I was worried about startling or upsetting her and hoped I wouldn’t need to engage in any further communication beyond a nod, a smile or a thumbs up. When you have to decide how to allocate your marketing budget, your worries relate to serious things like meeting business objectives, achieving personal performance goals and advancing your career.

To worry less and to improve your marketing decisions, make sure you have a solid approach to measuring your marketing. It will give you better information about what works and what doesn’t, your decisions will improve and the business results will follow.

As for me, I’m glad I didn’t end up like Woody Allen’s character Virgil Starkwell in ‘Take the Money and Run’!


About Rick Shea
Rick Shea is President of Optiv8 Consulting, a marketing consultancy that helps small to mid-sized organizations improve their marketing impact and business outcomes through customer insights, strategic discipline and effective content. Copyright ©2016 Optiv8 Consulting. All rights reserved. You may reproduce this article by including this copyright and, if reproducing electronically, including a link to: http://www.optiv8.com/

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