A couple of years ago, I wrote an extensive series of articles for the SMPS Marketer magazine on metrics for architectural, engineering and construction marketing. The theme: Too few marketers have worthy metrics and any practical way of determining their marketing effectiveness.
I discovered that metrics can be challenging, especially when business/practice pursues and hopes to win only a few relatively large projects. The sample size/lead-to-sales ratios that might be useful for mass market consumer purchases have much less value when you are trying to determine your marketing success in winning $10 million school or $28 million industrial building design or construction projects. (They however are absolutely important for residential marketers wishing to break beyond the “we rely on repeat and referral business” status — you really need to know the cost-effectiveness and lead-to-sales (and profitability) ratios to determine if your marketing/advertising budget is being spent wisely.)
In the business-to-business world, where numbers are both larger (in project size) and smaller (in number of projects) the rules are different. Sure, you can measure your “hit rate” and your “yield per proposal” and this may provide valuable insights into setting your go/no-go rules. (One California architect developed an elegant tool in assessing its go/no-go rules. It tracked the time of everyone in the pre-proposal stage, and if principals weren’t meaningful time before the proposal reached the go/no-go meeting, the project would be “no-go” — because it had enough data to know that this personal involvement/commitment needed to be in place for the project to succeed.
Related to these themes, I discovered this blog post from Proctor + Stevenson (the article is unsigned) that reflects some of marketing metrics’ complexity and challenges.
Marketing is one of the most complex things in the world. It consists of numerous disciplines – from literature and art to sociology and psychology. They all work together, complementing and influencing each other in complicated ways. Yet many marketers tend to fall back on lead numbers and conversion figure spreadsheets to identify the issues, instead of looking at the customer journeys they relate to, and where and why marketing isn’t working hard enough at bringing prospects into the funnel.
Don’t get me wrong, numbers are important. If you spend X amount of money on your marketing, you want facts and figures to prove that its money well spent. But you also need to remember not to confuse these numbers with reality; you mustn’t lose sight of what’s really important: your brand and genuinely making a name for your business; where your brand touches your customer and at what point in the ever-cluttered landscape. The ‘funnel process’ way of thinking, where everything comes through the funnel at the right point, is no longer relevant; it’s more like a complex diagram of a two-way sieve all falling into a funnel-shaped pot!
For example, metrics such as your ‘conversion funnel’ could help pin-point potential issues within the customer experience, but it won’t tell you whether your logo is out of date and that’s the reason people are choosing another, more modern-looking, brand over yours.
Nevertheless,while marketing may be complex, I don’t want to deter you from some simple stuff you can do to achieve effective results. There’s subtlety, science, and plenty of hogwash in the marketing world; but you can measure some important things, and you can certainly build your trust/brand through good deeds and great service/value. But that’s a cliché, isn’t it.