When I Paint My Masterpiece


Have you ever procrastinated? That’s what I thought. Me neither. Well, this post is about how one of the reasons for procrastinating really isn’t a good one (the others are fine) and how a simple strategy to deal with that reason will help you take on that project you’ve been putting off, like painting your house, or measuring your marketing.


In last month’s post, I joked about how I was going to need to steal time from one “fun” project, painting my front porch, so I could take on another marginally work-related project that was really more about me having fun. Well, guess what? Since I last wrote you, I found time to paint the porch!

I have to admit that I had been procrastinating (just this one time) about my hellish little chore. I knew it was going to be ugly. I’d look at the front of my house and all I could see was the toil and sweat awaiting me. I also knew that I would need a big block of time that I could never seem to find.

Then one day, a simple insight about that big block of time got me unstuck and into motion on my dreaded painting project. I realized that I could break down this miserable undertaking into manageable bite-sized pieces. I identified all the steps involved and did them, one at a time, in smaller chunks of time, as my schedule permitted. Looking at the problem this way made it easier for me to get started, and easier to see the path to the end.

One of the reasons that some marketers don’t measure at all, or not as well as they’d like, is that the whole project seems like too much to take on. Like my house-painting project, you can make implementing a measurement system seem less daunting by breaking it down into smaller steps. In short, it requires a plan, and here’s an approach to get you moving.

8-Step Plan to Measure Marketing

  1. Assemble Your Measurement Team: It is generally wise to create a small and diverse team that pulls members from some combination of marketing, sales, operations, finance, accounting, IT, customer service, and perhaps some external resources. Marketing exists to incent profitable customer behaviour. People from each of these areas will either have a perspective on what that means and what you should measure, or can provide the data you’ll need to measure whether marketing is achieving its objectives.

  2. Decide What to Measure: This key step requires having clarity about your overall business and marketing objectives, as well as each individual marketing program’s objectives. Well-defined objectives from your marketing planning process will help you to identify the metrics that you’ll use to assess how well your marketing is working. You’ll also identify the data you’ll need to collect, along with where, when and how you’ll collect it.

  3. Pick a Methodology: You need a measurement methodology that you can apply consistently across a diverse range of programs. The methodology needs to accommodate differences due to programs of varying complexity, targeting different customers, with different objectives and that require different metrics to assess performance. A consistent methodology across programs makes it possible to rank programs by a common overall program performance metric.

  4. Assign Responsibilities, Set Deadlines & Expectations: Make sure each team member clearly understands their role and responsibilities, what they’re supposed to do and when, and who else on the team they need to work with on specific tasks. Like any project, your success will depend on how well people perform.

  5. Test: Start small. Measure one program while you develop and work out the kinks in your process. Pick a program that will involve everyone on the team and that will test all aspects of your process.

  6. Review & Adjust Your Process: Things may not go entirely smoothly on your first attempt. Check back in with the team, fix what needs fixing, and prepare to roll out your process.

  7. Roll Out: You may need to do this in phases, perhaps to other brands, other program types, other divisions and other locations. Do it in manageable steps and be sure to pause between phases to review and adjust, as needed, until you’ve fully rolled out.

  8. Review & Adjust Your Marketing: Hold a measurement review session before starting your next round of marketing planning. Take the time to see what you’ve learned about which programs have been the most and least effective at meeting their objectives, so you can optimize your next wave of strategies, tactics and outcomes.

With all the hard work behind me, I find it interesting how the disdain I felt for this project before and while doing it has somehow vanished. All I feel now is the pride and satisfaction of a well-painted front porch. The key was finding a way to look at the project that made it seem doable and enabled me to get started.

If developing and implementing a marketing measurement process in your organization is something you’ve been dreading, a step-by-step plan will make it easier for you to start and finish. Now that I’ve finished painting my masterpiece, let me know if you need help with your project!

Planning to Measure


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.



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!

Stealth Benefits


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.

The ParthenonWhen 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

Delphi CountrysideMarketing 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!

Do Daily Deal Coupons Work?

Daily deal coupons are all the rage these days, led by Groupon and their numerous competitors. Since I have a pretty extensive background in consumer promotions, particularly couponing, I tend to get pulled into discussions on daily deal coupons and I often notice the frequent related media coverage. Setting aside all the buzz around them, they’re really just a new twist on an old marketing tactic, but do daily deal coupons work?

Traditional paper coupons and price discounts have worked quite nicely, since the late 1800s in the case of coupons, and I suppose for centuries or millennia in the case of price discounts. One of the main reasons to discount is to attract new customers to try your products or services, and then hopefully sell them more stuff and/or turn them into profitable repeat customers who will pay full price on future purchases. Daily deal coupons can certainly do this.

It is beyond the scope of this newsletter to address the dos and don’ts of daily deal coupons, but you’ll get some insights if you Google “Groupon horror stories” and “Groupon success stories”. I will say that you’ll want to have a way to limit response levels or to make sure you can live with whatever level of response you get.

To address whether daily deal coupons work from a measurement perspective, my answer leads to more questions, starting with “Well, it depends, what did you want them to do for your business?”

Drilling down a bit further, answers to the following four fundamental questions should inform the planning, objective setting and measuring of any marketing program. Clear answers should point the way to what and how to measure, and whether the program “worked” to meet its objectives.

Let’s look at each of these.

1. Who are you targeting? While many answers are possible, the best answer is often “new customers” to help grow your business.  Merchants benefit most when they structure their daily deal coupon offers to attract new customers, rather than subsidize existing customers who would have bought without a coupon.

2. What do you want them to do? You’ll want new customers to buy for the first time whereas you may want existing customers to buy something more or different than usual. In addition, you might try to prop up an under-performing aspect of your business, such as your slow month or time of day, or a product that isn’t selling well.

3. How much value will that create for your business?
This one is especially important and a bit tricky. You’ll need to consider the short term (this transaction) and the long term (the customer’s lifetime). Ideally, you’d like this transaction to create enough value to at least cover your costs, but if it doesn’t you’ll need to make up the difference and ideally much more over the lifetime of those customers who buy your daily deal.

Short Term – This Transaction: Consider your variable cost of providing the products or services you will sell through this coupon and compare that to the revenue from your share of the coupon selling price, which you will split (often 50/50) with the daily deal provider. Also, consider whether you’ll receive your share of the revenue when the coupon is bought, or when (and if!) it is redeemed.

Long Term – The Customer’s Lifetime: How long is the lifetime of a typical customer? On average, how many times will each customer buy over that lifetime, and how much will they buy each time? If each new customer’s lifetime is just this one transaction, it may not be worth your while to offer this coupon. But, if you can convert enough of those new customers to loyal repeat customers for many years, then discounting to get them in the door should be worthwhile.

4. How many people do you need to do that for this expense to be worthwhile? Once you know what a customer is worth to you over whatever time frame you want to use, and you know your costs, then you can set an objective for how much value (metrics include new customers, number of transactions, transaction values, etc.) you want this marketing investment to generate. Then you can measure against those objectives.

Clear Objectives Make Measurement Easier

To measure whether or not a daily deal coupon or any marketing program worked for your business, you need clearly defined objectives. In other words, to measure whether you have succeeded, you must  first define success. Clear objectives will tell you what metrics to use and where to find the data.

It’s one thing to attract new customers with discounts, and quite another to keep them. Can you convert discount shoppers to loyal customers? Success will come down to your company’s ability to deliver a superior customer experience in the short term, and to build a positive relationship with each customer over the long term and maximize both the lifetime and the value of as many customers as possible. Of course, that’s something every business has to do well, however they find their customers.

Daily deal coupons may be a relatively new marketing tactic, but there’s nothing new about the fundamentals that determine whether you should use them, whether you’ll be successful and how to measure your success. Clear objectives will help you to decide whether to use daily deal coupons and to evaluate whether using them worked, however you define success. To compare the success of a daily deal coupon program to any other type of marketing program, well that’s a topic for another newsletter.