Where’s the Money?
So you’ve done your marketing and business development, you’ve got your budget, you’re on social media and you’ve got a website. How do you know if it’s working? How do you measure the benefits and compare the costs?
The answer is – it depends…
We all love a good lawyerly answer, but sadly, there’s no easy answer to this. Often as marketing consultants, ‘success’ can be almost impossible to measure. Some folk will claim to be able to directly link marketing expenditure to revenue, and occasionally it is possible. But more often than not, it’s a challenge at best!
But wait – what’s this? Don’t we always say we measure and monitor, providing measurable results?
We do, of course. An important feature of marketing is to measure and test. So we measure everything we can. And we test and tweak to ensure the best possible chance of success. There are, however, a number of factors affecting the results and the ease with which you can measure those results.
Why So Complicated?
Consider the following factors:
The type of service or product being sold. In the case of professional services, such as consultancy or even marketing, the purchase is likely to be extremely high value, possibly distressed, and may not happen for some time after the marketing activity has taken place. We have clients who have come to us, six, twelve months or even several years after we first made contact with them. It would be very hard to say, ‘we did this, and it resulted in that’.
The nature or response of the customer. Sometimes a customer will say, “I saw this, so I want your service”. However, often a customer or client may not even realise they saw something or had contact with you, or what it was that led to their decision to make a purchase. How often have you bought food from your local supermarket? Now think whether seeing an advert with Jamie Oliver cooking something made you go there? Of course it didn’t, but why then would they pay Jamie £11 million for his services?
What *can* you do?
Luckily, most professional services marketing and business development doesn’t cost £11m. But what should you be looking for from a marketing consultant? What kind of measurement can you achieve and how can you measure results?
The good news is that there is a lot you can measure. Though you may not be able to directly link revenue to marketing all the time, there is a lot you can do to measure success and performance from your marketing and BD team or consultant.
- Have a plan – everyone should have a marketing plan. You needn’t keep strictly to the plan, but you should have a direction. Somewhere you start from and want to get to. What is your overall strategy to achieve your goals with the resources you have available? Remember the strategy is how you get somewhere, not the destination, the key is to have an aim. Then you can look back at your plan and see how much of it you’ve managed to achieve over the course of a year or six months, etc.
- Set targets – any good marketer will be quite comfortable with measuring and monitoring their work and setting goals. Even if that goal is something as simple as increased numbers of visitors to a website, improving quality of visitors (because quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality) or something basic.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment – A great marketing expert once said to me, “testing is the rock upon which our industry is founded”. We tested a letter he wrote against one I wrote and his out-performed mine by a ratio of 3-1. I learned a lot from that experience!
If you’re sending emails, use multiple subject lines. Try different writing styles. Test and review, identify the things that have worked and do more of them, identify the things that haven’t worked and see what can be done to improve them or stop doing them if necessary.
- Use the measuring tools you have available to you – Most software (email, websites, social media etc) comes with built-in analytics. The analytics will help you identify what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. Use those analytics to help you.
- Talk to people – whether they’re in your business or outside. Find out how people discover you. Why did they decide to work with you? Remember they won’t always remember everything you’ve done, but sometimes those conversations can help you decide what you should or shouldn’t be doing. A recent focus group by one of our clients identified that the work we’d been doing online for them was the single thing that made them most memorable to their clients. Not only did this give us a warm glowing feeling inside, it helped give them confidence that they were getting things right. Equally such studies can help you to identify where you’re not getting it right so you can improve.
- Finally, keep things simple – there’s usually no need to be too clever or cute. Gimmicks or fancy and expensive software probably isn’t the answer to your problems. Stick to practical, common sense solutions. And keep measuring and improving them.
As you can see – you might not (always) be able to put an exact revenue value on each piece of marketing you engage in. Certainly not in the field of professional services. But you can measure, monitor, review and improve the things you do, to ensure it’s the best you can be doing.