Planning to Measure


Introduction

Hi there, welcome to my first post of 2014, and best wishes for the new year!

When you develop a marketing plan, it’s easy to focus on the plan itself, and to think of measurement as something you’ll do later after executing the plan. The problem is, you also have to plan to measure and the first step in doing that is to set proper objectives in your marketing plan. Today’s post looks at how to embed measurement in your marketing planning process.

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I’m an advisor to a social enterprise start-up called the Blooms of Joy Project. At our last advisory board meeting, we identified the need for a marketing planning process to help inform some decisions that the founder, Karen, needs to make.

Fortunately, I had recently completed the first draft of a new marketing planning process. I suggested to Karen that working through this process would solve her problem. She’d get a marketing plan out of it, and I’d be able to test my new process with her, get some feedback and learn how to improve my template.

Last week, as we walked through the process together on a Skype call, I found a problem. My new marketing planning process wasn’t making it easy enough to measure properly. Let me explain.

A marketer’s first responsibility requires answering the question “What should we do?” You have a budget and you need to spend it well in your efforts to attract customers, sell products and grow your businesses. That is the focus of a marketing plan, and it was my focus as I developed my process. However, having a good marketing plan isn’t enough.

With the responsibility of spending a marketing budget comes the accountability for spending it wisely. The follow up question to “What should we do?” is “Did it work?” An effective marketing process has to address and connect both questions so that you can continuously improve your effectiveness.

After executing the programs in your plan, you need to measure your results to see whether you achieved the objectives you set in your plan. That last part of that sentence is the key and where I found the problem.

One of the biggest roadblocks to measuring marketing properly is the lack of well-defined objectives. You can’t measure the success of your marketing programs if you don’t first clearly set measurable objectives.

With that in mind, I went back to the drawing board to embed objective setting into key elements of the planning process. Here are the sections of the plan where I did it, and where you should, too.

The Business

A marketing plan should include clearly stated objectives for the key performance indicators in your business, for each source of revenue that you want to affect with your marketing plan. Many of these objectives will roll up into your financial plan for the total business. Examples might include things like revenue, profit, customer counts, transactions, price per transaction and market share.

The Customer

Within this section, there is a Segmentation sub-section that helps you to be clear on who you are targeting. The Profitable Customer Behaviour sub-section is for defining what you want those targeted customers to do and for identifying Characteristics of Ideal Customers. For each product you offer, and for each market segment in which you compete, this section helps you to be clear on whom you want to communicate with through your marketing efforts, and what you want to persuade them to do.

The Plan

When setting objectives for specific marketing programs, it can be very helpful to ask four simple questions:

  1. Who are we targeting? (Target Segments & Ideal Customers)
  2. What exactly do we want them to do or buy? (Ideal Customer Behaviour)
  3. By when do we want them to do that? (To meet your Business Objectives)
  4. How much of that activity do we want them to do? (To meet your Business Objectives)

The Results

This section highlights the need to measure and suggests addressing questions like:

  1. What will your measurement process be?
  2. Who will be responsible?
  3. Where will the data come from?
  4. When will we measure?

The marketing plan is not the place to do all that work, but it is the time to recognize the need for it, to plan for it and to be setting objectives properly so that measurement will even be possible.

This section also addresses Lessons Learned, which is a critical step in optimizing your marketing effectiveness. The lessons you learn from measurement will include identifying the programs that performed best and worst at meeting their specific program objectives, and in helping you to meet your overall business objectives.

We all know that planning and measurement are important, but do we do these things as well as we should? It is equally important to recognize that we need to link them. You can’t measure well without setting proper objectives in the planning process and you can’t improve your next round of planning without measuring how well you did the last time around. Plan to measure, so you can measure your plan!

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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