If you run any sort of business, someone at some point has broached the subject of measurement with you. And if no one has – you should be thinking about it. Metrics and milestones should not strike fear into the heart of the intrepid business-person – hiding from the truth has never made it go away. So, instead, consider the possibilities that measurement will provide you to demonstrate success as well as identify problems you can solve to continuously improve your business.
Metrics and Milestones are Fundamental to the Marketing Planning Process
Every business or marketing plan should have both built right in – it’s the only way to gauge progress as well as measure success. If you haven’t included measurement in your marketing plan, then what you’ve created is a wish list – not an actual plan for success.
Metrics come first
Without understanding your overall objectives, it’s not possible to create a marketing plan. “What do we want to achieve?” is the first question you must ask. Without objectives, you can’t build a plan to get your business there. The second question should then be “What does success look like?” Will it be based on sales growth? Leads generated? Increased marketshare? Increased brand awareness? Greater customer engagement? Success can’t be measured without metrics. Just because you think business is good doesn’t mean that it is or that it couldn’t be much, much better. Therefore, metrics for your marketing plan should be tied to your objectives.
Quantity and Quality are both important
There are various kinds of metrics to consider as well. The easiest metrics to measure are the quantitative ones – for example number of sales leads, number of click thrus from a digital ad to your website, increase in sales revenue, etc. The less easy to measure are the qualitative objectives – increase in brand awareness, traditional advertising reach, etc. but they’re not impossible. Having reasonable objectives with reasonable metrics will push the success of your plan forward, provide you with internal benchmarks for future measurement, and create a sense of accomplishment when the metrics are met or exceeded. Have patience. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day either.
Then come Milestones
Once you have your objectives and metrics nailed down, you can build in your milestones. Start by considering your key milestones – both for the marketing plan as a whole and for each individual tactic you’ve included. For example, a major marketing plan milestone could be having your CASL compliant email list ready for use by a certain date or your direct mail campaign completed by a certain date to highlight an upcoming event. Obviously one of the big plan milestones would be your marketing plan completion date. Individual tactics would require milestones along the way to move their progress forward – for example, each major step in the process of completing your CASL compliant email list to meet your final list deadline. When building milestones into your marketing plan, ensure that timing is reasonable and achievable. There’s no point in setting milestones you won’t meet – it will cause anxiety and set a tone of failure before your marketing plan has had a chance to succeed.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The truth, of course, is that not all objectives, metrics and milestones are successfully met and achieved. And this is where that fear mentioned at the beginning of this blog comes in. Hiding from the truth doesn’t make it go away – but understanding it can give you the tools you need to implement change.
Regular monitoring of both metrics and milestones will keep your marketing plan and your business on track. However, your metrics and milestones can also uncover issues and barriers to success – which are just as important as achieving your objectives. If, for instance, you are consistently unable to meet your milestones – and what you’ve set should be achievable – then perhaps you have a staffing, resourcing or competency issue that needs to be addressed. If you are generating leads but have a low conversion to sale rate, then perhaps you have a closing issue which could reflect a sales training need or a product problem. Knowledge is power, and metrics and milestones give you the knowledge to power change in your organization.
If you’re struggling with your marketing strategy and want to talk to the B2B marketing experts, please contact us today.