Tag Archives: Consulting

Embracing Measurement

As I have said before, with marketing being held to a higher standard, the days of running programs and hoping that they worked are over.  The old saying, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” rings true today, more than ever.  Nearly every target interaction can be measured in some manner.

But how do your get your marketing team to embrace measurement?

If you truly want measurement and accountability to permeate your organization, it can’t be just lip service.  You must make a wholesale change and bake it into the DNA of your company.  It may sound difficult, but it isn’t that hard to do.  We’ve helped many of our clients implement analytics programs to track and improve the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.

Here are a few of the keys.  Make sure you…

  • Put your analytics plan in place prior to any implementation.
  • Get input and buy-in from senior management.
  • Measure the right things – the data points that tie back to your specific objectives and can truly have an impact on revenue.  In some instances, 2-3 items will suffice.  In other cases, you may need to track 10-15 items.  It is fine to track softer items (e.g., awareness, favorability), but it is also critical to develop mechanisms to track leads/engagement and hard business metrics.
  • Create a conversion funnel that, where possible, tracks all the data points from each customer interaction all the way through to revenue.
  • Develop a scorecard to track the data.
  • Assign the team members who will be responsible for each data point.
  • Set a reporting schedule… and stick to it.

Don’t be afraid of measurement.  Embrace it.  Your future may depend on it!

— Stephen Weinstein, Director of Account Management

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Gut Is for Gamblers

It sure seems as if the days of developing creative and hoping that it breaks through, resonates with the target, and drives sales are over.  There is not a lot of appetite for statements like, “I think this is gonna work.”  Unless you can say, “I know this will work,” and back it up with some data, you run the risk of having your marketing programs killed and your budget diverted elsewhere within the company.

Marketing is being held to a higher standard, and rightfully so.  We are at the point where nearly every target interaction can be measured in some manner.  And if you’re like our clients, you need all the data you can get to prove that your programs are working, and justify future budgets… and maybe even your job!

But what about front-end analytics?  Sure, we always do our homework at the start of any assignment and try to learn everything we possibly can about the target and what they might respond to.  But is that enough?  What happened to the days of pretesting and being prepared to answer the question “Will this really work?”  I know… there’s never enough time or money to do it properly, and the creatives really hate it.

With every marketing dollar being scrutinized, improving your results by just a few percentage points can make a huge difference.  Sure, you can test lots of digital work on the fly, but what about print, direct, and broadcast?  Those media aren’t dead just yet!

It doesn’t have to be an elaborate, time-consuming process.  Here’s what I see as the seven keys to a successful pretest:

  1. Set specific goals and have a detailed analytics plan in place prior to implementation.
  2. Make sure all the core team members have bought in and are on the same page.
  3. Keep it simple – don’t test too many variables at one time.
  4. Understand the outside influences that can disrupt your test, and be prepared to mitigate them.
  5. Test a large enough sample to make good decisions and make sure the test group represents your target.
  6. Execute the plan – don’t let people redirect it in midstream.
  7. Commit to making changes based on what the results tell you.

So don’t be afraid of pretesting.  Embrace it.  Your future may depend on it!

– Stephen Weinstein, Director of Account Management

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Communication problem? Ask a nurse.

Ok, this may sound weird, but indulge me for a second.

We are in the communications business. Even though our clients’ businesses may run the gamut, we often rely on the same methods of communicating, just with different subject matter.

Recently I was privy to an internal communications project where a consumer marketing company tried something a little different. The discovery portion of the project involved interviewing professionals completely outside the company’s industry to see how they communicate. Professions where clear, simple and efficient communication is critical, like nursing and emergency response, were sampled. I say, “Brilliant!”

This got me to thinkin’. Too often, we get so caught up in our own lingo and best practices that we lose sight of what we really are in this business to do—solve problems and communicate. Approaching every problem with the mindset of getting our point across as clearly and impactfully as possible should be the criteria for every project. Never mind what the industry says we’re supposed to do.

People respond to the unique. Unique doesn’t always have to mean outrageous or shocking, just different from what the audience is used to. Talk to me like everybody else talks to me, and I feel like I’ve heard it before. Talk to me differently, and I feel like you have something interesting to say. Anything other than that gives me little reason to look up from my smartphone.

— Kurt Miller, Associate Creative Director

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The Marketing “S” Word — and seven other words to live by

With the title of Chief Brand Strategist, it is inevitable that you have to define what you do.  Chief and Brand are pretty self-explanatory, so I suspect that it is the “S” word that trips everyone up.  It isn’t that Strategy is an unfamiliar word – but it seems to mean different things to different people.

  • To some, strategy is a PowerPoint security blanket — put it in a binder on your shelf, so if anyone asks, you have one.
  • To others, strategy is a buzzword – something guaranteed to make you look smart if you throw it around in meetings, as in Great idea, Bob.  But, what’s the strategy behind it?
  • In some organizations, strategy can be a formula – For target audience x, brand y is the miracle product that delivers benefits a, b and c better than any other competitor.
  • And, strategy can even be paralyzing – something you know you should have but seems big, scary and insurmountable.

To me, strategy is as simple as a road map that both focuses and inspires effective marketing efforts.  The foundation of strategy goes back to journalistic fundamentals and six simple words — who, what, where, when, why and how.

  1. Why may be the most powerful word in strategic development.  Simply ask Why am I considering this initiative? Why is also a particularly effective way to refocus knee-jerk tactical assignments, as in Why do we need a Facebook page?
  2. What has two key components — What am I trying to achieve? (ensuring accountability) and What need does my brand address? (Note, this is different than answering What am I trying to sell?)
  3. Who defines the audience and is more than just Who am I trying to reach? Who really becomes effective when you can truthfully answer Who will be most receptive to what I have to offer?
  4. How demands discipline.  Answering How does my brand meet the target’s need? requires digging to find the true benefit your brand offers, not just making a list of product features.
  5. Where has changed dramatically over the past few years.  The question is no longer Where can I best reach the target?, but rather Where can I best interact and engage with the target?
  6. When can really make a difference when budgets are tight (and whose aren’t?).  The strongest strategies look at all the potential points of influence and clearly articulate When will the target be most receptive to this message?

In the end, developing a great strategy isn’t rocket science.  But getting from good to great requires the discipline of a drill sergeant.  Once you have defined who, what, where, when, why, how, go back and look for one more word – and.

7. And is the difference between good strategies and great ones.  Great strategies are focused, precise and require trade-offs – there is no room for and.

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Cross-selling services is good business. Except when it’s not.

Timing is everything.  And while I fully endorse capitalizing on opportunities to sell a customer another product or service, particularly when you have them on the phone, or in the store, doing so when that customer is extremely annoyed with you is… how shall I put this… NOT SMART.

Take my recent encounter with a leading satellite provider, for example.  In the short time I have been a customer, I have experienced three multiday service disruptions.  Most recently during the season premiere of LOST (which made me even more unhappy).  So let’s just say my sentiments toward this particular company are not favorable at the moment.

But that’s not something I can blame on the poor customer-service rep who happened to receive my troubleshooting call.  It was all going fine at first.  I explained the problem.  She walked me through the steps to try and resolve it.  She was cordial and professional.  I was cordial back.

Until she chose that moment to try to sell me another product, no doubt following the script she was handed.  A product that would protect me from having to pay more money if they had to come out to make the service actually work.  I don’t think so! I’m actually quite proud of how I handled it, as I did not take it out on her, though I did tell her that she didn’t have a happy customer on her hands, and that trying to sell me something new was not well timed.

Her response?  “I can appreciate that, ma’am. But don’t you think…”  etc.

Moral of the story:

1)  Train your front lines to think.  Not just follow a script.

2)  Make sure they understand that it’s way cheaper to keep a current customer than it is to acquire a new one.

3)  Equip them to choose their moments wisely.  Lest they meet up with a customer far less cordial than I.

— Ellen Repasky, Account Director

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