Spotting the spanner in the marketing works
Performance management and marketing are not the mutually exclusive terms that many marketers assume they are, according to marketing guru Rodger Roeser of US-based Justice & Young Advertising & PR, who provides a good five-point plan of best practices for managing marketing campaign performance.
According to Roeser, you can ask almost any marketer how their business is going and they should be able to tell you what effect their latest campaign had on sales and profit. But many of them will tell you "I haven't got the latest figures to hand" or just "very well, thanks" instead. But a good, proactive business model has to be built on and embraces the concept of performance management and continuous process improvement. True, these metrics are only a single cog in the overall marketing machine, but they're some of the most important: they tell you if the rest of the machine is working or not and, most importantly, what needs to be fixed.
Not just a term The term "performance management" is heard often in a number of disciplines and industries, and it simply means "having optimal performance at all times". As Roeser points out, it doesn't matter what the advertising or marketing department (or agency for that matter) thinks the colour scheme will do, or what effect the wording will have on the consumer's emotions: it's how well the campaign actually works that counts, and you can only know that by measuring results - monitoring performance.
Indeed, performance management should be the norm in any marketing department. All companies should adopt it, and demand it from their PR and marketing agencies. So what is it, and how is it best done? Roeser's five-point list of best practices is as follows:
- Set benchmarks You can't measure or monitor your results if you don't know where you're starting from, so the first step is to set benchmarks (known as Key Performance Indicators) based on any existing data you have or, at the absolute least, any reasonably up-to-date market-wide performance data you can find. This will set the expectation level for the performance you hope to achieve. These benchmarks can be reviewed and revised whenever appropriate, as your market position and corporate goals develop.
- Set core objectives If your core objective is to increase sales from US$1 million annually to US$2 million annually, or to increase store traffic from 1,200 customers a day to 1,500 a day over six months, a good statement of your core objective would read something like: "To increase sales by 25% from benchmark within 6 months". It's a goal you set at the beginning. Be ambitious by all means, but also be realistic.
- Set strategy and tactics The next steps involve several marketing disciplines that should help to bring about the core objective. If you're not used to these activities, setting strategies and tactics to accomplish the core objective can be challenging - in which case there's no shame in bringing in an outsider (e.g. a consultant or an experienced agency), even if you plan on conducting the programme or campaign yourself after tapping them for advice.
The strategies and tactics of a program can take on many different faces: anything from events and publicity to paid advertising and direct response. But again, performance management is critical. Ask yourself: Is the tactic you're looking at specifically designed to impact the core objective? How is getting an article placed in a trade magazine going to help? What are you going to do with it? How many people are actually in the target universe? What type of paid media should you consider that will most effectively reach your audience? What is the anticipated ROI (return on investment)? What is the reach? No matter what the options are, you need to measure the impact and effect of each. The aim here is to think through the ways of measuring each strategy option's success or failure.
- Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate Performance management keeps the focus on what is important rather than focusing on the smaller tactics to achieve your objectives. Measure them constantly. Track your clips, measure your impressions, understand your GRPs (how many in a given target audience actually saw an advert), understand the space you're working in, get insight as to why people buy from you and - perhaps more importantly - why they don't buy from you. Monitor the costs associated with each, and lay out a simple ROI spreadsheet (i.e. columns for costs and desired results). Once you've got hard figures in the spreadsheet, you will be amazed at how clear "the right path" of marketing will become.
- Expect results - from empowered marketers There continues to be far too little accountability (and a considerable amount of obfuscation) in marketing departments. Companies must expect more from their communications executives - in other words, not just pretty ads and catchy jingles but actual bottom line-impacting results. But at the same time, the corporate leadership must empower communications professionals to do their job properly, and that begins with a performance management approach that brings about strong business intelligence that can be acted upon for the good of the entire company and its core objectives.
Roeser concludes: "No longer are you increasing awareness, or working on 'branding', which may lead to some ethereal promised land. No longer are sales executives passively empowered to expect the phones to ring when a new advertisement is launched or an article appears in the newspaper. It all works cohesively together and is geared, measured, and timed on what that specific activity does to grow sales."