The Long and Short of It


Introduction

Are you a short-term thinker or a long-term thinker? Both? Neither? Maybe you’d like to think about it and get back to me?

Well, today’s post has a little something for both of you, or all of you. However you think, marketing measurement has benefits for you!

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Early in my career, I worked for a guy who believed that one of the biggest problems facing the country was an epidemic of short-term thinking. At the time, given my youth and inexperience, I didn’t give this epidemic of his a lot of thought. Over the years, though, I’ve come to realize that he was onto something.

Consider these common examples of short-term thinking:

  • Politicians who seem primarily motivated by getting elected or re-elected, rather than by doing the right thing in the long run for the citizens whose interests they supposedly represent.
  • General managers of professional sports teams who trade away young talent for veteran players. They sometimes make the playoffs and a little extra money for their owners, but rarely do they go on to build championship teams without investing in the long-term development of their young players.
  • Business executives might want to invest in the future but will tend to favour taking actions that contribute to meeting shorter term objectives. Missing those objectives can disappoint financial markets and can cost those executives their bonuses and maybe their jobs.

Short-term thinking can also cause companies to be reluctant to make marketing measurement a priority. It can be difficult to allocate scarce marketing resources towards something they perceive as having a longer-term payback.

Marketers will tend to allocate their resources and budgets towards activities that deliver customers and revenue today. They might think, “Why spend money on measurement, something that will help me next year, when I could spend that money on programs to find more customers this year?”

The pressure to think and behave that way is real, but the perception that marketing measurement’s benefits are exclusively long-term isn’t quite right. The long-term benefits from measurement are significant, but there are also important short-term benefits. Let’s look at both.

 

Long-Term Benefits of Measurement

Better Decisions, Better Results: This is the main and most obvious reason to measure marketing. What you learn will make your marketing more effective.

Optimize Spending, Reduce Waste: Measurement helps you to learn which marketing programs are the most and least effective, so you can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

Organize the Chaos: We live in very data rich times. As technology evolves and as the ways marketers interact with customers become more diverse, you’ll have even more data and it will be harder to make sense of it all. A good measurement system will keep your data from becoming a chaotic mess and will support making the decisions you need to make.


Short-Term Benefits of Measurement

Clear and Measurable Objectives: To commit to measurement, you must also commit to setting objectives for your programs. Proper objectives clearly define success and set expectations. This makes it easier for organizations to initially determine which activities to fund and afterwards, to measure whether they met expectations.

More Scrutiny = Better Marketing: Having to define success and set objectives will require that you examine why you want to do each program before you commit budget to them, and that scrutiny will help prevent bad programs from seeing the light of day. By merely planning to measure, the cream will already start to rise to the top.

Get on the Same Page: To do measurement well, you have to involve people from key functional areas of your business in the development and implementation of your process. The discussions you’ll have will help get everyone on the same page about the intent of your marketing programs and the impact across the organization of the resulting customer behaviour.

Understand the Drivers of Value: Marketing’s purpose is to incent customer behaviour that creates the most value for the organization. Measurement helps you to learn how various types of customer behaviour either create or erode value across your business. That understanding also helps to ensure alignment between your marketing and corporate objectives.

 

We may well live in a world plagued by an epidemic of short-term thinking, but that statement is probably a bit too dramatic, and anyway it’s always best to focus on what you can control.

If it’s short term benefits you need, then marketing measurement will deliver. As a great bonus, you will simultaneously be investing in your long-term marketing effectiveness. Those long-term investments will also help you to meet future short-term objectives.

The long and short of it is that measurement will improve your marketing effectiveness, today and in the future. If you’re not already measuring, what’s stopping you?

 

 

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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