“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable”

 

I am constantly amazed by how many companies spend a fortune on marketing without analysing whether the money they spend actually helps their business.

As a long-term direct marketeer, it’s absolutely second-nature for me to say ‘how much business does this activity bring in?’ or, the DM person’s favourite question ‘does this activity pay for itself?’. In other words, is a specific marketing activity actually costing you money, rather than making you money?

(And if so, why on earth are you doing it?)

Yet, time after time, I meet clients who are spending money on various forms of marketing – be it a shiny new website, a direct mail campaign, a beautiful new brochure, some adshel advertising in their local area, email newsletters – yet have no way of knowing which bits of this (if any) is getting customers and which is just money down the drain.

There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, they aren’t formally measuring the effectiveness of the activity. Again, the old DM cliche is ‘What gets measured gets improved’.

Did the new website get more hits? More importantly, did it deliver more enquiries or sales? If not, why not?

Did the remarketing campaign generate enough clickthroughs to justify its cost? Did the PPC campaign do better than old-fashioned keyword SEO?

Did the press advertising generate more awareness in the target audience group? How many phone calls and emails did it generate?

Measure this stuff and you will improve its performance (or decide to ditch it altogether).

Secondly, they don’t have any objectives to work towards. If you don’t have a target number of new customers to recruit by the end of the year, or an awareness score to increase, or a simple top line sales target to meet – then you aren’t going to tailor your activity to meet these ends most cost-efficiently.

Remarkably, I talk to many (usually smaller) organisations who don’t really have any business objectives or marketing targets other than ‘sell more stuff’.

And if your strategy is that non-existent, it doesn’t matter what form your marketing activity takes as nobody will be holding you accountable.

The quote at the top of this post, summing up this approach to business, is from Seneca the Younger, a Roman philosopher born 4 BC. Which just goes to show that there’s nothing new in marketing. Ever.

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