“Measurement” is a hot topic in marketing right now, although I’m not sure there was ever a time when it wasn’t important.
Back in the day, when the bulk of a brand’s marketing budget was based on advertising and promotion, it was a tad easier to measure its effectiveness. With marketing budgets much more fragmented across multiple channels now, measurement is even more crucial to determine the most effective parts of the plan. But it’s also much harder to measure.
When teaching my class at New York University about measurement, the first words out of my mouth are “Measurement doesn’t begin when the program is over. It begins when you start planning for it.”
Every element of your marketing plan, and your business plan as well for that matter, needs to have a measurement and metrics protocol built into the planning with key benchmarks set at the beginning and end with milestones throughout.
How else can you know for sure if the program was successful? Without a goal and measurement system in place at the beginning, you can’t possibly ascertain success. Plus, by adding in milestones throughout the program’s life, you can track progress so that there are no surprises. In fact, you can monitor and control the progress and course correct along the way to ensure success.
That’s just smart marketing.
For the big brands of the world this may seem obvious. But for small-business owners and entrepreneurs, this kind of methodology doesn’t come naturally. So I’d like to break it down into a couple of simple components so that you can properly measure for your planned success.
Measuring the product
Measuring success of your product or service is the obvious first step, and most likely your ultimate metric will be sales. But it’s important to not only set your sales forecast in advance, but to monitor the key factors that affect your forecast along the way. You may also want to measure customer satisfaction of the functional attributes of your product as well, to see if an upgrade might be in order. This is just one example of measuring your product.
Measuring the brand
Most small-business owners track sales and think the job is done. Not by a long shot. You should also be measuring key brand metrics as well since they are highly influential towards your ultimate sales results. Attitudes and perceptions about the brand and what it offers will impact your future success, so you should be monitoring those metrics throughout your marketing programming. Sure, you may know how well your product is selling, but if you don’t know how the brand is delivering on its promises then you don’t know the health of your business.
The truth is that measurement is one of those topics we tend to avoid until tallying up our success at the end of the year or at the conclusion of a marketing campaign.
But by then, it’s too late to change course and it’s likely too late to impact the next year or the next program. I know it’s a daunting task, especially when you are resource constrained and managing all the other aspects of the business as well, so keep it simple and focused.
Pick a few key measures for both the product and the brand and monitor them. Pick the ones most tied to your firm’s success, so you know they are driving the business. Pick a couple and focus on them -- it’ll be a big leap forward in your thinking that will hopefully deliver a big leap forward for your work.