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Marketing by Design: The Measure of Success

Are your marketing efforts working?
By Dick Wolfe
November 03, 2010

OK, you have read every one of these columns religiously (you have, haven’t you?). You have maximized your presence at trade shows, you have done research, you have marketed your “green” capabilities, you have made the most of your association memberships and you have leveraged your digital presence.

Now it’s time to answer the big question: Did all, or any, of it work? How do you measure these activities in a meaningful way?


VISIBILITY IS VIABILITY

It’s fairly easy to select an approach that works best for individual needs. To put a frame around it, if you think about it as a mathematical formula, it might look like this:

increased awareness = increased consideration/qualified leads = increased sales

That’s a somewhat simplistic way to look at it, as many companies will often execute programs to enhance reputation or to be seen as thought leaders on critical issues facing their industries. This reputation-building is an effective and necessary way to build a halo effect around your business that will impact revenue at some point, but does not influence sales numbers immediately. For those efforts aimed directly at moving products and services, the above formula works well.

The digital age has made measuring efforts much easier. There are built-in tools with websites and email to enable you to count exactly how many people are touched by what you are doing. If you are driving people to your site and your unique visitor count increases, you know the tactic you used to accomplish that worked. How well it worked depends on what your goal for new visitors was. If you send an email offer, you can track the open rate and response rate to see how well received it was.


MEANINGFUL MEASUREMENT

Before you start a marketing/PR effort, decide what your goals are. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume a web initiative to get more unique visitors and qualified leads. Set a goal of XX visitors and X qualified leads as your metric. You can also set a goal of Y sales based on the visitors and leads.

A couple of caveats:

• If you hit your unique visitor number, but miss your qualified lead number, the problem is not with your awareness program. There is something lacking in what you have on offer. What they see when they get to your site is not drawing them the rest of the way in. Your website has to effectively showcase your products/skills or you have just wasted your time and alienated a large number of potential customers.

• If you hit your qualified lead number and don’t hit your sales number, the problem is not with your awareness program or your website. It’s with your sales process. Make sure the sales force is ready to close on the opportunities your marketing/PR program provides. Most critically, MAKE SURE ALL LEADS ARE FOLLOWED UP IN A TIMELY FASHION. Hot leads become cold leads very quickly.


A BROADER LOOK

Obviously, what works best is an integrated marketing/PR campaign that goes beyond the Internet. The key is to find a blend of measurement tools that tells you what’s working and what isn’t.

Below is a grid of some of the measurement protocols we use at Gibbs & Soell to quantify both traditional and digital campaigns. Depending on the client and the program, we might use some, or all, of these approaches.

 METHOD  DESCRIPTION
Attitude/Awareness Survey; Market Research Statistical survey/research analysis that provides the best measure of actual impact on target audience awareness and attitude levels; this is done by executing initial research to get a baseline and then executing further research after a specified period of the campaign to see how awareness/attitudes have changed
Sales Inquiry Tracking
Orchestrate and set mechanisms to properly track incoming leads generated from the marketing communications program; strategic initiatives are designed to integrate directly with a client’s lead management system
 Customer Feedback
Provides feedback on image and message effectiveness, including credibility gauge based on online conversations; can also include surveys and interviews
Number of Impressions/Unique Visitors
Measures number of people reached via traditional and digital media
Web Analytics
Media relations and other public relations programs are specifically designed from the outset to drive traffic to clients’ web assets; working with our clients’ IT departments and other search engine marketing partners, we would track traffic from individual campaigns 
Competitive Analysis
Compares how you stack up against the competition (e.g. share of discussion, tonality, message positioning, etc.)
Editor Feedback (surveys & interviews)
Measures message acceptance within the media community, pre- and post-campaign
Content Analysis
Evaluates how messages were reported/published in the media—positive, neutral and negative


CLOSING THOUGHTS

The goal of measurement is to make sure your marketing/PR dollars are being spent where they do the most good and add to your bottom line. Like a good suit, it should always be tailored precisely to achieve the desired result.


Dick Wolfe is VP of Gibbs & Soell Inc., a leading independent public relations agency that specializes in the residential and commercial building and remodeling industries. As a part of G&S’ Consumer Lifestyle and Building Solutions Practice, Wolfe brings deep experience as a trusted communications advisor to companies seeking successful brand positioning, marketing communications and visibility campaigns that focus on the design community. To contact Wolfe with questions and suggestions on topics for future articles, please email him at dwolfe@gibbs-soell.com.
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