Strategic Question 1 & 2: How And When Will You Measure Success?

Marketing SuccessThis post is a continuation of our detailed look into the 13 strategic marketing questions that every marketer must answer.

What are you trying to make happen? How will you measure success?

Until you’ve determined how you plan to measure success, you will be unable to know if you’ve achieved it. For that reason, outlining your marketing strategy must begin by defining your end goal.

Specifically, what outcome would you like achieve? How will your organization keep score?

Oh, and please don’t fall into the trap of using your individual happiness or freedom as a measurement of success. Yes, your feelings are important. But such indicators are fuzzy, subjective and always on the move. Rather, your measurement of success should be specific, objective and quantifiable. Any staff member or casual observer should be able to look up at the scoreboard and come to the same conclusion.

Your outcome of success should also be realistic. Ask yourself: What share of the market do I currently own? What is my company’s market potential, that is, my ability to capture additional market share? Does my market have room for growth?

Admittedly, these numbers can be difficult to determine. So don’t get your tights in a bunch if you’re unable to calculate exact numbers. You may have to guesstimate the best you can. For example, if you’re in the carpet cleaning business and you operate five trucks while your largest competitor operates 20, then you are roughly one-quarter his size.

Examples of objective and quantifiable outcomes:

  • Annual gross sales of $1.5 million
  • Sales conversion percentage of 45%
  • 2,000 items sold
  • 300 daily visitors to your storefront or website
  • 5,000 email subscribers

So how will you know if your business has achieved success?

When will you measure success?

Okay, now that we’ve determined HOW success will be measured, let’s define WHEN success will be measured.

How long is your time horizon? When would you like to arrive to your destination? Are you promoting a special event or trying to become a household name?

Your time horizon for success affects the type of marketing strategy you’ll be able to implement. And be sure to set realistic timelines. Far too many marketers allow the weight of their enthusiasm to compress their time horizon for success.

TAKE ACTION: Using the guidelines above, write down how your business plans to measure success. Next, write down when you plan to measure success. Remember to be specific and realistic.

“When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” – The Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland

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4 Responses to “Strategic Question 1 & 2: How And When Will You Measure Success?”

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  1. Mike says:

    Tom, as you know there are many variables that effect the success of the campaign, right message, saleable product or service, spot placement…etc do you have a rule of thumb for timeline on judging results on becoming a household name? Example: if this isn’t happening by month 6 than……?

  2. Tom Wanek says:

    Unfortunately, Mike, I don’t. It’s just not possible. Add to your list of variables the following: relative advantage over your competition, complexity of your product, compatibility of your product with the customer’s existing values and beliefs, trial-ability of your product and observability of the benefits or outcome that your product provides.

    As you can see from this list, the time it takes for a product or service to become a household name will vary. Some products like the Apple iPad diffuse rapidly, almost instantaneously. Others take years or even decades.

    In this case, it might be better to measure progress rather than success (i.e. the end goal).

  3. Mike says:

    Thanks Tom! I have always thought of advertising like exercising, your not likely to get fit and tone in two weeks or even 6 months, it’s the first 6 months that you build your foundation, the 6 months after is when you start seeing your results. When I worked in a local market as a radio sales rep the rule of thumb I used in the first 6 – 8 weeks of the campaign was to ask the business owner if people he/she knows is hearing the ad? If people they knew weren’t commenting on the ad in the early go you could beat it wasn’t cutting the clutter, it’s been a little harder for me to judge on the national market though.. Thanks for dissecting these questions, this is awesome!

  4. Tom Wanek says:

    Mike, exercise is a terrific metaphor for an ad campaign. Thanks for sharing!

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