I gave presentations on both U.S. coasts this week, and if my experience is any indication, measuring marketing results is top of mind as this economically troubling year draws to a close.
To be sure, in San Diego I was speaking to marketing professionals (at the Society for Neuroscience) whose job performances are measured in part by how many leads and other ROI they generate. And in New York I was speaking to the executives of a healthcare supply company, including their marketing folks, about a not-inexpensive rebranding initiative. It’s just that the questions I was asked about measuring results came from such a variety of stakeholders — from chief marketing officer to public relations executive to science publisher to sales rep to CEO — that I have to believe everyone’s got metrics on their minds these days.
And their questions reveal that many, even those with years of experience working in business-to-business, even those in marketing, haven’t a clue which are the best ways to measure the strength of ads, brochures, trade show activities and the like.
My suggestion? Measure success, not tactics. By this I mean sure, count the badges you swipe in the booth. Track the leads your ad brings in. Clock the time online visitors spend trolling your website or noodling with your rich media ad. Those measures give you at least a sense whether those tactics are worth what they cost you.
But in the end, you want to measure your entire campaign — whether it’s a product launch or a yearlong effort to rebuild your brand. And there are essentially two ways to do that:
- Create a baseline and test against it. To know whether you’ve moved the needle you need to know where the needle started. Invest in market research to test awareness levels and perceptions of your company or product. Do it quantitatively through an online survey or qualitatively through a series of interviews with key stakeholders. Twelve months later, go back and do it again. How’d you do?
- Get intimate with your CRM. I hear two things from a lot of companies: One, we have a customer relationship management system; and two: We don’t use it very well (if we use it at all). A system such as Sage SalesLogix can give you real-time feedback if your campaign is working and point to course corrections mid-stream.
Finally, remember that nothing works in a vacuum. That low trade show booth attendance might not have been because it was a lousy show; it might because you didn’t send out enough pre-show alerts … or you didn’t offer a compelling enough reason to stop by. Your print ad might not have generated a lot of leads because even though they loved it, people preferred to respond to the much more immediate online version.
Measure success, not tactics. Success is what you’re buying.
Rob Kinslow is vice president for strategic communications at Seidler Bernstein. A journalist by training and former president of the American Medical Writers Assn. in Boston, Rob gently guides companies through the often byzantine world of brand and message strategy. His work has been recognized by the American Hospital Assn., AMWA, Diagnostic Marketing Assn., the Healthcare Information Awards, Rx Club and others. An avid magician and musician, he is also a former three-term president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians in Boston.