How do you know if your marketing efforts are producing results?
While ROI is important, marketing is a long-term investment. There can be measurable short terms results, such as "We spent $100,000 in online advertising last month, and generated $450,000 in sales." Unfortunately, too much focus on immediate returns overlooks the other factors that contribute to the success of that campaign, such as proper branding and positioning of the business to facilitate a positive response to advertising.
Without a long-term commitment to marketing, it's irrational to expect a positive ROI from month to month or quarter to quarter. There will be times when the investment exceeds the immediate return, but over several months and even years, the results will compound like interest in a savings account.
Companies that are fickle marketers will continue to be frustrated by spending only "when we can afford it" and turning off investment in tough times, when it's needed more than ever.
Changing the mindset that marketing is about activity, and that it can be turned on and off like a faucet requires a focus on the real results that marketing delivers.
What are these factors? You can tell marketing is working when you see the following:Increase in brand preference - customers know your business and chose your company over competitors, asking for you by name.Growing market share - you're winning more and more business within your chosen markets, and are not losing out to competitors as often as in the past.Higher visibility in the industry - more media inquiries come in, industry analysts are following your business, press coverage picks up and speaking opportunities contribute to a higher profile for your business.Greater brand awareness - when asked to list the leading companies in your space, the name of your business pops up more regularly. Employees don't have to explain who they work for, and people recognize the logo on your golf shirt.Shorter sales cycles - Sales reps can get in the door more easily and customers a more aware of your offerings. Questions change from "who are you and what do you do" to "how can we make this work together."Increased lead flow - the volume of qualified leads increases as your reputation builds and your market reach expands.Better quality leads - Less time is wasted on unqualified prospects, because they can see they're not good a fit and exit the pipeline quickly - if they enter it at all.Higher lead conversion - Because leads are more highly qualified (and often self qualified due to brand awareness), you can close a higher percentage of the leads you do receive.Increased corporate valuation - all of the factors above increase the value of your business.Higher share price - for public companies, share price will increase as word spreads of your success and you become a company to watch.
Joellyn "Joey" Sargent is principal of BrandSprout LLC, an Atlanta-based strategic marketing and management consulting firm. Joey brings fresh perspectives to challenging business issues, helping her clients succeed by building brand awareness, engaging customers and increasing market share.
A passionate advocate of entrepreneurship, Joey has founded 3 companies, was a key executive with two start-ups and has worked for Fortune 500 companies including UPS and BellSouth (now AT&T). With global leadership experience in branding, strategy, and communications, Joey advises business owners on strategies for dramatic growth, building high-performing marketing teams and leveraging technology for maximum impact.