If you want to squeeze as much as you can from your marketing investment, tracking and improving the efficiency of your marketing activity is essential to ensuring your marketing results improve… but you’ll also need a touch of magic, too!
To address this challenge, you will need to focus your attention on three main areas: the people, the processes and of course the ‘magic’ – because the better the idea, the better the results you can expect. It’s imperative to your future success that you work with the right people in clearly defined roles, inspired and motivated to see your marketing results improve. The people you choose need to follow proven processes to ensure the right things are being done at the right time. Finally, when we refer to ‘magic’, we are referring to the spark necessary to ignite a project, the inspiration and drive that transforms an idea into successful marketing activity.
Working with a team of highly motivated people will consistently outweigh credentials, organisation size or reputation. You can pay someone all the money in the world but if they don’t possess the right attitude it is unlikely to deliver results.
People make decisions based on emotion; we are emotional beings. If driven by a cause, purpose, belief or principle, we are more likely to be wholeheartedly committed to the goal we’re working towards. Financial incentives alone are a blunt tool and don’t work in the long run. By ensuring the people you work with buy into what you’re trying to achieve, they will become emotionally invested and take on your business objectives as a personal cause of their own.
Rather than focusing on things outside of your control, put your energy into improving the one thing you can control: your company atmosphere. Your leadership will set the tone for how your team performs. You need to create an environment where your employees are not in fear of their job. In doing so, you will create the perfect environment for them and your business to flourish.
Once you have assembled a team capable of carrying the weight of your vision, there are two things you can do to maintain an environment conducive to getting the very best out of them. Firstly, to achieve mass-market success, your organisation will need a dynamic mix of people and you will have to understand how and why they work in the ways they do. Try distributing a simple personality test among your employees; by asking your team to fill out a short survey, you will gain insight into how they work and think, as well as an explanation why.
Secondly, celebrate success. Reward your team in a variety of ways for their successes – everything ranging from a simple ‘well done’ to an extra day of holiday a year will make them feel valued and their work appreciated.
To treble your marketing results, you need to be clear about your company objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs). Start by making a matrix that encompasses your organisation’s or product’s current standing and expands into the future. Map your priorities and set them alongside yearly targets for the next three years. Then breakdown each priority by its key elements and assign a team member to ‘own’ each element. Next, identify each component that will contribute to the yearly target and comprise immediate actions that can be taken this month to work towards it. Scrutinise these factors in a monthly meeting and it will soon become clear where more resources are needed. By setting out a clear plan of what you want to achieve and how it will be achieved on a month-by-month basis, improving efficiencies and generating a greater return on marketing investment will naturally follow.
There’s an interesting conflict with Lean Six Sigma practices in a marketing context. Whilst we aim to drive efficiencies and minimise waste, marketing relies on creativity and creativity is born out of failure. Generating many ideas is the best way to have a good idea, but that results in a lot of waste. Most marketing fails – when was the last time you got a 100% response rate? However, you can implement management practices to improve efficiency and effectiveness by eliminating waste in repetitive actions not related to the creative process. The core principle is to reduce and eliminate non-value adding activities.
Examine whether you are using automation to its full extent. Are there any processes that could be automated? Cast your mind to the tedious tasks and explore an automated alternative. By automating these tasks, you will free up resources, drive efficiencies and eliminate human error.
Working through the RACI model can also help. Ask yourself who is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed. If you can determine who these individuals are, your project is far more likely to proceed smoothly and succeed. Assigning a team member to each of these fields establishes clear lines of responsibility, transparency, eliminates duplication and enables specialists to focus solely on their area of expertise – all of which will help drive efficiency. Even if the project doesn’t achieve the expected results, you’ll be able to recognise where things went wrong and how to improve next time.
To perform at maximum efficiency, you must know what your ‘unfair advantage’ is; in other words, your unique selling point (USP). This is why people would choose to do business with you. Defining this is pivotal to your company’s success. If this is made immediately obvious to customers and they see the defects in the offering of your competitors, it goes without saying that you will reap the benefits of increased business. Your USP doesn’t have to be capable of outperforming everyone in your shared marketplace, it only has to resonate with your target audience.
Once you have differentiated yourself, you need to choose how to communicate with your audience. Email, social media, direct marketing, phone calls – it can all feel like a bit of a minefield. Because consumers have access to so much at their fingertips, they demand immediate gratification and expect to communicate with your business without jumping through hoops.
A product promotion could be conveyed via email or social media, whereas a product recall due to safety concerns may require a face-to-face meeting; regardless of how you choose to communicate, personalisation is of paramount importance. Addressing your customers by name and tailoring your approach to their spending behaviours will go a long way to securing sales and repeat custom, as well as strengthening how effective your marketing activity is.
To incorporate everything discussed above, we’ve developed a unique process that is proven to deliver visible results and drive efficiency. This five-stage process is a perpetual cycle with each phase of activity feeding value and insight into the next.
- Absorption: immerse yourselves in the challenge ahead – the issues, the perception, the products, the culture, the objectives, target audience, etc.
- Explosion: explore everything, discount nothing. Think about the challenge from every angle, listening to every view, thinking about formats, media, offers and concepts.
- Consolidation: bullet proof the ideas, checking them against budget, time, brand fit and key messages. Then make them even stronger.
- Action: putting great ideas into action requires realistic planning and scheduling that can move things along. The better the idea, the better the buy in.
- Capitalisation: when a campaign is live it’s time to measure its success. Be it converting sales, customer uptake or brand loyalty. Ask if your work met the campaign objectives, so you can build for the future.
Finally, we have the ‘magic’. Having the right people in suitable roles following the correct procedures gives you a fighting chance at trebling your marketing results. But, if your team isn’t capable of discovering that elusive spark, you’re unlikely to achieve a tangible difference in marketing results let alone treble them. We believe it’s the quality of the idea that makes the biggest return on marketing investment because once a truly remarkable idea has been conceived and properly marketed, it will spread far and wide.
Think of it this way: if a football team possesses a strong goalkeeper, defence and midfield, they will be solid and hard to beat. To transform that side into an elite, title winning team, the spark in attack needs to be there. Your ability to channel the elusive magic is the equivalent to a free-scoring, big money signing striker.
Here at OTB and our sister company Think!, we’re well versed in following a set of processes, but we know the importance of innovative thinking to create the biggest return on investment. There are many techniques intended to help you discover that all important spark, propelling a project from stationary start to an unstoppable force. Here are a few to consider:
360 degrees: This technique is used to encourage a holistic view. It challenges you to look at as many aspects as possible. It’s a vital precursor to creative thinking and innovation that you know as much as possible about the subject you are exploring.
Start by dividing a circle into eight segments and assigning each segment to one of the most important factors in relation to your chosen subject. Pick one segment at a time and discuss as a team – it will soon become clear which areas your team’s knowledge is strong on and which areas need further research.
Random stimulus: This exercise aims to generate fresh, new ideas by linking random words with your innovation or objective. By taking a step back from rational thinking and the conventional limits you place on your thoughts, you’re able to open your mind to a whole new level of creativity. This activity forces you to think differently and creatively!
Choose a topic and then ask your team to grab a random object. Then list three descriptive terms about each object. One person in the team should make a list of the words and then number them. Once a complete list has been made, get a random member of the team to choose a number and assign this to the object they chose. Invite your team to think of links between the random word and your topic and write them on the flip chart.
Brainwriting: This technique works well if there are people in your team who are being overpowered by other team members. It allows the quieter, more thoughtful people to get their ideas across.
Assemble your team in a circle. Get everyone to concisely write their best idea for a new product or campaign onto a sheet of paper and then pass it to the person next to them. They then read the idea and add another element to enhance it. The process is repeated until every person has contributed to every other person’s original thoughts and the best ideas are presented back to the group.
The most commonly used measure for marketing efficiency and productivity is the ratio of gross profit divided by total expenditure. Unfortunately, this ratio oversimplifies matters and neglects a multitude of factors that impact profitability, such as demographic changes, fluctuations in the economy and competitor performance.
By focusing your approach on the three key areas of people, processes and ‘magic’, you can take your business to new heights, improving efficiencies and in turn trebling your marketing results. With a little organisation, careful planning and communication among your wider team, these tips can be seamlessly implemented and will produce outstanding results to your marketing performance.
If you want to get more out of your marketing activity and see a tangible difference in how your business performs, contact us today.