Better Planning or Better Measurement for Marketing Effectiveness

Wednesday Feb 10, 2010

Facing pressure for heightened accountability, many marketers are putting much more emphasis on measuring actual performance of their programs.

Having helped many clients build state-of-the-art direct marketing strategies, I have compiled five typical mistakes companies make in designing their marketing strategies. Hoping we can all learn from the mistakes of others to build better and more effective campaigns, I suggest these mistakes as five ways of increasing marketing effectiveness through better planning — rather than better measurement after launching a plan.

1. Run early feasibility checks: Ground the strategy early-on with quick feasibility checks to prevent building a strategy so sophisticated that is not executable given your company’s capabilities around channels and systems.

2. Build your strategy on a balance of real data and best practices: Some companies tend to short-cut the strategy and want to simply build a program mostly based on best practices. However, best insights come from a company’s real data about customers and competition. Even if higher investment is required to do some strategic analysis of the competitive white space and gather unique customer insights, it pays off at the end with in-market performance. A custom-designed shirt always fits better!

3. Get a clear inventory of offer assets: Impactful offers are usually neglected due to the fact that they are constrained to “what is available.” Offers make or break good marketing programs and drive response. They should be aligned with the buying cycle of the prospect and their commitment level to engage with your company. In other words, you should know what you have and what you can possibly produce within your resource constraints.

4. Cadence, cadence, cadence: Just like an author would tell her story in chapters — with a beginning, a middle and an end — you should tell your story in a sequence of singular messages, because that is what your target is expecting – hearing a meaningful and comprehensible story. Page-long text-heavy emails, newsletters listing the entire product portfolio or messages to mixed audiences lumped together in one direct mail piece to save mailing costs are all examples of wrong-doing that actually hamper effectiveness while trying to increase it. It is much more effective to break your message into simple and contained stories and tailor it to your audience. This way your audience will follow your story with ease and, if you did a good job, will respond to your offer after a sufficient number of touches – just like you planned!

5. Integrate direct marketing with the brand direction: Although direct marketing programs can stand alone by themselves and accelerate business above and beyond all other marketing and brand activities, they should still align with the brand’s voice and integrate with its calendar for heightened effectiveness. This empowers both the brand and the direct marketing efforts with continuity and multiplies the response. This integration is usually impeded by having different agencies for direct and brand, or even having different managers at organizations leading direct and brand. However sometimes a walk across the hallway might create multiple-fold higher ROIs.

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