You can't manage, if you can't measure
You can't manage if you can't measure. Measurement is the single most important technique in determining progress and results in virtually any marketing performance evaluation. It is a discipline that leading marketers recognize is the backbone for advancement in everything from budgets and sales goals to staff training and customer satisfaction metrics.
In order to establish a comprehensive initiative, Gulf Coast marketers must have the discipline to "measure" in rigorous fashion. There is probably no other technique that can better prove how your marketing strategies can drive the bottom line with precision results.
According to Naras Eech Ambadi, best selling author of High Performance Marketing, there are relatively few essential objectives you must provide to validate measurements and to drive actions.
Here are three basic principles that should be your guide to achieving compelling results:
1. The measurement must be relevant.
2. The measurement must be visible.
3. The measurement must drive improvement.
The most desirable financial outcomes for the Wall Street crowd may include enhanced shareholder value, revenue growth or profit increase. However, for your Gulf Coast law firm, community bank, accounting, real estate or other professional services firm, you must target more immediate performance objectives. In order to deliver, you must make causal linkages between key measures such as customer satisfaction, cross-selling, campaign response rates, and the financial results it seeks to produce. In other words, "what really happened?"
These links are not as obvious as one might think. In recent years, the American Marketing Association has raised questions about the implication of customer satisfaction on overall corporate success. Marketing campaigns that are assumed successful, may not be truly successful if outcomes are misaligned with objectives. For example, consider the Gulf Coast community bank with a major deposit-generation campaign in which it paid above market rates for CDs. The bank raises deposits but ends up cannibalizing money from many of its existing account programs at a much higher cost. Until a clear linkage between action and outcome is established, the relevance of favored performance is merely a false hope.
The level of resources that must be devoted to the measurement task will depend on your industry dynamics, the size of the marketing budget, the buy-in of senior management and your own profiency in measurement. You'll want to report outcomes to the executive suite in a written report and then to staff in a less formal newsletter-type review.
Measurement represents a powerful lever for organizations that are struggling to drive performance gains. They have the potential to depersonalize and depoliticize change. Objective measurements provide a touchstone to guide actions that are not merely hunches or whims of management.
A Skill Level
If you want to truly promote this technique, you'll want to link rewards, compensation and promotions to measurable results. Finally, those building the project must not only have the will and motivation but must also have the necessary expertise to intelligently interpret and act on the data. The development of a measurement competency is a continuing thrust. Disruptive directions are always introduced. Markets change. Customers make new demands. Management attention deviates. This is especially true of Gulf Coast enterprises without the luxury of dedicated marketing professionals.
An adaptive, robust marketing organization is one that continually challenges, tests and redefines its metrics. It ensures that linkages between marketing and financial measures are clear and defensible. You'll want to act on what you'll learn to continually improve your marketing performance. Remember the legendary CEO statement: "I know half of the budget is a waste. I just don't know which half."
Lou Lasday, an independent marketing adviser residing on Longboat Key, creates action-oriented strategic marketing initiatives for emerging companies. A career direct response executive, he has been a general partner of a major national firm and regional president of the American Marketing Association. Lasday can be reached at [email protected].