Objectives, Measurement and Program Planning

Five Helpful Hints to Jumpstart Your ’11 Marcom Success

This is “Annual Plan” season for many companies and so the next few blogs will focus on the brand and marketing communications planning process.  Hopefully, we will start a dialog that creates a catalog of marketing communications planning best practices.

Sadly, many programs are doomed from the gate.  The problem lies with the program’s objectives.  Well-stated objectives are the across-the-board, #1 key to success because they provide the foundation for measuring and evaluating the entire Marketing Communications Program. 

What does a well-stated objective look like?  Objectives must be SMART … simple, measurable, achievable and posses and element of time. 

Here’s some tips to make sure your objectives are SMART and really drive next year’s marketing communications success. 

1. Simple — Make sure you have only one objective per objective.  I know this statement is redundant, but too many times I’ve seen the word “and” in an objective (i.e.; increase awareness and leads.)  You can only measure one item at a time. And if you are going to increase awareness, awareness of what? a product, a product positioning? In all cases, a more tightly defined objective is simpler.

2 Measurable — How are you going to measure awareness? Is this a bench mark? Is this an absolute number? Is this a competitive comparison? State the measurement metric as part of the objective.

3. Achievable — This is a judgement call.  Err on the side of caution.  Think small.  Most organizations have limited budgets. Money indeed buys mind-share and awareness, for example, builds over time.  Be credible.  It is better to under promise and over achieve. 

4. Realistic — Define objectives that are germane to marketing communications.  By itself, marketing communications can not increase sales, or market share, or margins.  An objective “helping to” achieve any of the above suddenly becomes unmeasurable.   Revisit the classic hierarchy of effects — Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Trial, Purchase, and Reassurance.  These are relationship-building behaviors that marketing communications can impact.  Align your objectives with one of these behaviors.

One side note to all of the b2b types: “Leads” (he unholy grail of B2B marketing) communications, are an element of evaluation. You have to generate awareness and interest before you generate leads.

5. Timeliness — Over what period of time are you going to accomplish this objective?  Limited budgets often require a flighting strategy.  Few can support a single initiative over a 12 month period. So when are you going to measure improvement in awareness?

Finally, well-stated SMART objectives determine how to evaluate and measure the program’s success.  Measurement is built in.  There are no difficult questions of “measuring value” after the fact.  Anticipation of value, effectiveness, and ROI are all baked into the proposition upfront.  Most importantly, getting management’s sign-off on return on investment (ROI) and key performance indicators (KPI) up front as part of the program’s objectives contributes significantly to a much more productive, fruitful and positive discussion of the program’s value at the end of next year.

So what are some of your ideas?  Take some time and share your objective-setting and program evaluation best practices. We’ll publish them here.

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5 Tips for Defining IMC ROI

ROI is not a budget issue.  It’s a program issue.  And it’s more than leads.

I spent this week working with a couple of clients on their 2011 budgets and inevitably the discussion turned to how to measure return on the IMC investment (ROI).  I found it interesting that ROI was the last consideration when it should be the first discussion point. ROI, you see, is a program development issue as much as it is a budget issue and here’s why.

Return on investment, properly executed, should measure how effectively and efficiently the IMC program met its stated objectives.  After all, objectives are the program’s “return”.  Therefore, the investment should tie to pre-determined and measurable expectations.  So here’s some basic tips on how to structure, define and answer the inevitable ROI discussion.

1. Make your objectives SMART objectives.  SMART is the acronym for simple, measurable, achievable and timely.  A SMART objective might be: “Establish the market perception of XYZ as a leading edge supplier over the next 12 months” or “Increase the perception of XYZ as leading edge supplier in the ABC market space by x% over the next 12 months”.  These objectives are simple.  They are measurable, they are achievable and there is pre-determined time frame for success.

Here’s a public relations example: “Increase share of voice by x% in 2011.”

2. Leads are good.  But leads aren’t the sole success index.  Way, way too often the only objective of a marketing program is leads, leads, leads.  I’m going to be a contrarian and state that generating leads is a sales not a marketing function!! Marketing is responsible for the entire relationship with the market place.  It responsible for the entire adoption process … awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, adoption, and reassurance (or repurchase). Leads …. real leads … are the third and/or fourth step in the chain.  Leads don’t just happen.  They are developed (by you or your competitors over time) by understanding that IMC programs address each step and move individual decision makers along the adoption process.  Basically, there should be an IMC objective for each step in the adoption process.

3. Achievement is important.  State the goal not just in terms of quantitative achievable terms but also by stating indices that IMC can achieve.  Can an IMC program achieve a sales uptick? By itself, no.  It is part of the process.  Can it improve margins? By itself, no.  Can it increase interest as measured by visits to specific landing pages?  Yes.  Can it measure interest by measuring intention?  Yes.  Can it measure awareness? Yes.  Can it measure predisposition to re-purchase? Yes.  Define objectives to which you can assign a quantified accomplishment (i.e.; return).

4. Allocate a small percentage of the budget to research and measurement.  Five to 10 percent will do.  The rational is to spend a small amount of money to make sure that 90-95 percent of your resources are being effectively and efficiently invested.

5. Get management concurrence on objectives first.  Management approval of SMART objectives makes it easier to get concurrence on how to define and measure success.

Clearly, defining ROI indices requires increasingly sophisticated measurement methodologies.  Let me hear from you about how you measure IMC ROI.

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Real Life Marketing Success without Text, Tweet, or FaceBook

It’s amazing and perhaps sadly newsworthy that I witnessed a highly successful implementation of marketing initiatives that didn’t involve social media

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Welcome to “Upon Further Review”

Welcome to “Upon Further Review”, a new blog that takes a strategic look at marketing and integrated marketing communications and how it contributes to corporate top and bottom lines.

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