~ And the seven outcomes you should be measuring ~

Most businesses are either planning for 2015 at the moment, or for those companies whose financial years have moved to align with the UK's financial year, beginning to think about planning.  

But how are you setting about the process of planning your marketing? Are you goal orientated or process orientated?

Do you start by stating your objective in terms of outcomes or outputs?

Probably, if you are working in Stone Junction's core worlds of industrial PRand technology PR you think in terms of outputs. You might think about how many press releases you would like to do this year, how many new pieces of content you want on your web site or how many times you want to tweet each day to choose three of many potential examples.

And that isn't so unreasonable. As marketers we are tasked with managing budgets and you know how many press releases, pieces of content or Tweets your budget will buy you. You are planning your outputs.

Deeper magic 
But there is a deeper magic (isn't there always) and the bad news is that it isn't as easy to plan for. You should be planning your outcomes.

The first step is to define what an outcome looks like for your business. I would argue that core outcomes are:

1. Sales
2. New customer acquisition
3. Improved business amongst existing customers
4. Measureable influence on a target market
5. Staff retention
6. Staff acquisition
7. Impact on share price

If you have a clear and defined link between a particular action and a resultant impact on the above, then maybe you could argue that's an outcome as well.

For instance, I know a business that can estimate very precisely what percentage of new blog subscribers become customers. So, if you have that kind of data, maybe you could argue new blog subscribers are an outcome.

Once you've defined your outcome, next define your measurement process. Sales and share prices are easy to measure, but if your outcome is attitudinal change, you need a research metric to measure that.

Planning communications 
Finally, now you know what you need to achieve and how to measure it, you can create your communications plan and decide how reach your goals. This is the easy bit of the process; once you have established how much it's going to take to run your household, by adding up all your bills, you can decide how much you need to earn.

Alternatively, you can cut your cloth to suit. 

And, as a final note, don't fool yourself into thinking that the things you can measure, such as e-mail open rates, social media acquisition or number and quality of media clippings, are in any way a substitute for measuring outcomes. There will certainly be value in measuring them, but they aren't an alternative to the hard stuff.   

So the message is, get goal orientated and plan for outcomes first. Once you've done this, the outputs become easy. And, if you need help, just get in touch.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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