As businesses embark upon the start of Q3, many are ramping up their business development and marketing activities to ensure the successful accomplishment of year-end goals. While finishing strong and achieving key benchmarks are vital for business success, the first question that should be asked, is: Did we meet our mid-year business goals? If the answer is “yes,” there likely isn’t a need to re-strategize and reevaluate the marketing mix. For companies answering “no,” refining your marketing strategy is an important intermediate step before moving full steam ahead to achieve year-end goals. Here are three questions to ask if you didn’t meet your mid-year marketing goals:
Which campaigns underperformed? Why?
Even with a solid strategy in place, some marketing campaigns don’t perform as anticipated. While ensuring the strategy is nimble, allowing you to make refinements along the way, can help, it isn’t always enough to ensure the end goal is met. When evaluating your marketing campaigns and outcomes for Q1 and Q2 of 2014, start by identifying the initiatives that under-performed. With this information in-hand, cull through the tactics within each campaign to determine which were the least and most impactful within the context of the campaign. This data will help to identify which tactics may be most valuable when leveraged within the context of a different campaign and how best to reallocate marketing dollars and energy moving forward.
Now that you’ve taken a careful look at the internal components of the campaign, it’s time to examine the environment. Did a significant change in your industry occur during the campaign? Did a more timely and pressing issue arise that commanded audiences’ attention? Did a competitor launch a similar effort at the same time? Changes in the business climate are important to note, as external factors can have just as significant, if not greater, of an impact on campaign outcomes as internal factors.
Which resources were underutilized? How can this be corrected?
Every business has untapped resources. Whether it’s a team member with a particular area of expertise, a skillset within a certain department or a strategic partner, to name a few, there are always resources that can be better utilized to help achieve business goals. With the data from your mid-year marketing evaluation in-hand, it’s time to determine how leverage untapped resources can help to shore-up any performance deficits. For example, could your have repurposed a branding ad in a local print publication to help drive workshop attendance? Do you have a team member with videography and production skills on staff who could have developed a series of short videos to help increase the impact of your e-mail marketing? Getting optimal value out of existing resources helps to only stretch marketing dollars but ensure that team members, tools and tactics are all being leveraged to their fullest potential.
How can we replicate our successes?
In the aggregate of six months, and within each individual marketing campaign, there are successes to celebrate. Whether your multi-channel client recruitment campaign exceeded benchmarks by 15% or met sales goals for a new product through a strategic blend of tradeshow and online marketing, it’s important to understand both what content and messaging resonated with target audiences as well as which tactics had the deepest penetration rates and yielded the strongest conversion.
Effectively isolating this information requires businesses to have a strong measurement program in place for their marketing campaigns. It isn’t enough to know that the campaign achieved its benchmarks, one needs to know which individual campaign components performed the best and which areas require improvement. This means having benchmarks and metrics assigned to each campaign tactic as well as identifying metrics for the campaign as a whole. This approach allows businesses to both identify the strongest assets in their marketing toolkit and reallocate time and money to the efforts generating the strongest ROI.
While having a strategic marketing plan in place is important for brand consistency and continuity, it is critical to evaluate efforts as the year – and individual campaigns – progress to ensure landing at the end of Q4 with unmet marketing goals. Take the time now, as you kick-off Q3, to re-evaluate your business’ marketing program, learn from the successes and missteps of Q1 and Q2 and lay the foundation to end the year having proven strong marketing ROI.