Posted on October 1, 2015 by Michael Schmid
In a recent conversation with a friend and colleague about managing one’s investment portfolio, he made the statement that tracking your investments leads to better performance. In fact, if you think about it, this makes perfect sense. We now track our physical activity using smart watches, smart bands or “wearables” in order to improve our physical fitness. Of course, many people would enthusiastically say that the simple act of tracking their daily physical activities has yielded a high correlation to improved physical fitness.
Tracking things (investments, physical activity) forces us to become much more conscious about whatever activity it is that we decide to track. It also, sometimes by accident, forces us to set goals and objectives related to the activity(s) we track, and ultimately we tend to become more strategic and tactical in the very activities that we routinely perform. In most cases, we find that when we make the effort to set goals and track performance, we tend to meet or exceed our objectives.
In business we track our performance with monthly, quarterly, and annual financial reports. Manufacturers commonly track operating performance and efficiency sometimes on a near real-time basis, and certainly on a shift-by-shift basis. But how often do we as marketers track our brand performance in terms of campaign execution, engagement, penetration, mind and market share and ultimately the extent to which our activities have contributed to maximizing the value of the company or organization?
I think it’s pretty clear that marketing as a discipline has a long way to go in terms of measuring and tracking performance. One reason for this is the simple fact that many businesses simply do not place proper emphasis on planning, beyond putting together financial forecasts, sales forecasts and sometimes production forecasts. Unfortunately, in many cases this forecasting effort is nothing that is driven internally, but rather something that is demanded by shareholders and other outside stakeholders, like financial institutions or funding sources.
While putting together a plan may seem like an arduous task, if you are truly passionate about your business and the markets that you serve, the planning process can be less of a chore and more of a fun, stress-relieving activity. It all begins with understanding and codifying your mission, then developing goals and objectives that you would like to achieve in the coming operational year and ensuing few years.
From there, it is simply a process of developing a road map, or a strategy if you will, for achieving your stated goals and objectives. The road map is nothing more than a set of strategies and tactics, that when properly and timely executed will lead to the achievement of your company’s goals.
But the process of planning doesn’t end with developing the company’s strategic plan. Each department or discipline within the company should create its own plan and road map, consistent with the company’s overall strategic plan. This is a particularly important exercise for marketing, since marketing is specifically tasked with ownership and execution of the organization’s outbound strategy.
Marketers need to develop goals and objectives, and ultimately strategies and tactics that are consistent with meeting and achieving the company’s overall goals and objectives. Then we need to put in place measures to track the performance of the strategies and tactics we execute so that we can understand and properly communicate the effectiveness of our programs in meeting our goals and objectives. Tracking and measuring performance also provides us with the opportunity to quickly pivot away from one ineffective program to another strategy or tactic that might prove more effective.