How business owners can measure the results of marketing programs Featured

10:37pm EDT January 29, 2014
Ryan Barringer, Senior vice president, marketing and brand strategy, Bridge Bank Ryan Barringer, Senior vice president, marketing and brand strategy, Bridge Bank

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It’s important to know the desired outcome before entering into a marketing program, says Ryan Barringer, senior vice president of marketing and brand strategy at Bridge Bank.

“Too often a manager invests in a campaign without having first identified the appropriate criteria to evaluate its performance. The output might be obvious — a TV spot, a sponsorship, or a viral video aimed at delivering impressions. The question then becomes, ‘What is the outcome of those impressions and how will they affect revenue, if at all?’” Barringer says.

Smart Business spoke with Barringer about ways to determine if marketing campaigns meet goals and the differences in marketing to businesses as opposed to consumers.

What are the desired outcomes of typical marketing programs?

With any campaign, the ultimate goal is to somehow match the benefits of your product or service with an interested buyer who is willing to pay for those benefits. But there are different paths toward that goal. The marketing effort could be about educating the audience about a product feature, or simply to build awareness of a new or unknown brand. Or maybe the goal is to enhance the credibility of a brand by association with another well-known brand, thereby leveraging the equity of a complementary brand.

These goals all help enable an eventual sale, but the ultimate measurement of them is not necessarily the sale itself — it could be an increase in awareness or trust in the brand, or visits to your website.

Do you determine what would increase sales, and design a campaign to reach that goal?

The marketer or business owner should put themselves in the buyer’s shoes, maybe sit down with a customer and learn about the journey they took in making a purchase. Tracing the steps to a sale helps in figuring out where you can have an influence.

Also, there are nuances depending on your sector; business to business marketing is a bit different than consumer marketing in that purchases are usually at higher price points — you’re selling servers, buildings or vehicles as opposed to meals or sundries, so the risks of a poor buying decision are different — and there is usually more than one buyer that needs to be educated. It’s not just me making a purchase on behalf of my company, my manager is also involved.

That makes the role of brand more important — the old adage that no one was ever fired for buying IBM computer equipment. IBM had done great work building trust and credibility in its brand, thereby making it easier (and safer) to buy their products.

So how is the effectiveness of a marketing program measured?

It depends. Some say that sales might be the ultimate metric, but that obscures other important drivers like corporate reputation or convenience. It’s up to the buyer of a campaign to decide the metrics, which may or may not come at a cost. Marketing research can reveal answers to goals, such as whether the audience has a better understanding of your product, or increased awareness or perceived value of your brand. An initial survey can create a baseline to measure against to determine if the campaign had an impact. Digital campaigns are far easier to analyze, and can offer many different opportunities to sustain engagement with a potential customer.

Where do businesses make mistakes with marketing efforts?

One is not understanding what a campaign will deliver. As mentioned, it’s not always about revenue; it could be awareness or increasing the attractiveness of the brand, or even correcting a misconception.

Business owners often overlook the importance of things such as the use of modern graphic design. If you’re presenting an outdated visual representation of your company or offering, that could actually create suspicion among buyers that your business might be outdated or irrelevant.

Buyers consume information differently and it’s important to reach them through the proper channel, whether it’s a video, website or social media. Technologies are changing ways consumers enter into that buyer’s journey. If you’re not attuned to those changes, you’re going to miss out on an opportunity because your competitors will beat you to the punch.

Ryan Barringer is senior vice president of marketing and brand strategy at Bridge Bank. Reach him at (408) 556-8677 or ryan.barringer@bridgebank.com.

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