Sharpening the Point
Because good enough is never good enough
By Jeff Freedman, Marketing Principal, Small
In order to continually improve effectiveness and results of
marketing communications, you need to constantly seek to "sharpen
the point." To do so, it is critical to continually establish
criteria for success and metrics against which such success can be
While more and more marketers are implementing basic measurement
techniques to determine program success/failure, the extent to which
such metrics are being leveraged by many marketers is minimal.
Learning must go beyond determining whether or not a goal has been
reached. Metrics must be established to help determine specific
reasons for success and failure, and provide indicators that could
point to more positive results. By following this approach, even a
"failure" can provide valuable insight. And, successes can serve to
raise the bar for subsequent programs.
So, the next time you are about to launch a program, I urge you
to consider the following considerations for "sharpening the point:"
1. Always test
Knowing that a campaign succeeded or failed is not enough. Always
seek to learn more about why your efforts may work or not. Consider
which variables (offer, list, message, etc.) may have the greatest
impact on the return, and seek to learn how changing a variable can
2. Set realistic measurement criteria
It is critical that the measurement techniques used to measure
success align with the objectives of the program. How many times
have you launched a brand awareness campaign, and then been informed
that the sales group was upset because it was not generating enough
leads? This issue can easily be overcome if you can not only remind
them of the objective of the campaign, but more importantly, provide
data that demonstrates success against that objective.
3. Create clean measurable test matrixes
One of the most common mistakes of marketers in testing is trying to
test many variables at one time. For example, a direct marketer may
send Creative A to Audience A and Creative B to Audience B. If the
former produces results 2X greater than the latter, the marketer
will know which performed better. But, was it the audience and/or
the creative that impacted the results? Such a test would not
provide that data. Instead, a more effective test would be to have
four "test cells"
- a. Creative A with Audience A
- b. Creative A with Audience B
- c. Creative B with Audience A
- d. Creative B with Audience B
By setting up the test in each manner, where
only one variable is changed in each "test cell," a marketer can
learn which audience and which creative performed better. Generally,
this will provide much more useful information that the other test.
4. Establish benchmarks and continually re-measure
As part of Small Army's On Point process, we generally conduct
quantitative research to identify market awareness, perceptions,
etc. among target audiences. These studies are not only used to
provide data for more informed strategic decisions. They are also
used as benchmarks against which we can continually measure. For
example, 12 months after the initial benchmark and a launch of a
subsequent marketing campaign, re-launch the same survey
(incorporating additional questions as necessary) to determine how
the needle may have moved. This type of benchmarking can determine
increases/decreases in awareness, perception changes, competitive
impact and the like.
5. Leverage the Internet for Quick Testing
While Internet advertising has not completely met advertiser
expectations (perhaps because expectations were unrealistic), the
Internet can be a great tool for quick testing of audiences,
messages, offers and creative - especially when response is the
primary objective. If you are considering multiple industries,
audiences, offers, etc., you can quickly test these items online.
Create "online" versions of your creative (unless, of course, it is
already online), and purchase space on targeted websites. If your
test was set-up properly, within days you can have a much better
idea of which variables were most effective. This technique can also
be conducted via e-mail.
6. Trust your instincts - but don't rush to bet the farm
We recommend starting with educated, informed strategies. But, often
times, experience and instinct point us in a different direction.
Don't be afraid of that (but don't risk your job on it either). If
you are unsure, conduct a controlled test to determine market
viability. If it fails, you know not to do it again (or to modify it
based on results). If it succeeds, you can be a hero.
In an economy where companies are being driven to do less with
more (especially as it pertains to marketing), it is critical to
continue sharpening the point to improve results. Small Army's On
Point approach effectively provides for that. It is what keeps
clients coming back for more (well, that and simply great creative).
And it is what enables us to continually deliver positive results.
For more information about Small Army, or to learn more about our
On Point approach, visit us at
www.smallarmy.net. Or call us at 617-450-0000.