Recently we have been focussing on the value of partnership as a platform for an effective marketing process.
A challenge with partnerships is that many SME business owners like to do their own thing – indeed this can be one of the real freedoms of self-employment
Doing your own thing is great – but this isn’t the same as making it up as you go along. An effective, sustainable marketing process needs a plan. You can share a plan with others who can then support you to achieve your goals.
Sure, plans can be (indeed should be) reviewed and evolved but this process needs to have some structure (particularly if more than one person is involved in delivering on the plan.) No one can mind-read. It isn’t reasonable for one person, even a business owner, to simply change her mind and expect everyone to follow. There needs to be a process.
Why does a plan need to change?
Actually, I think it is better to say that a plan evolves rather than changes because the change comes about through growing experience.
Typically a plan will evolve for one of 2 reasons:
- It becomes clear that the plan is going to fall short of delivering on the goals we have set.
- A better option comes up, either a better way to achieve our set goals or a way to achieve better goals.
In both of these cases, you need to have some idea of where you are up to. Are you making progress? To know this, you need to be measuring.
It is nearly a year since I last took a look at analytics (not just in terms of Google Analytics but the whole process of measuring where your business is up to) but over recent months we have seen stark evidence of the power (and danger!) of data as much government policy through the pandemic has been driven by very clear goals (reduce transmission, minimise infection, minimise mortality while protecting both the NHS and the economy). All of these goals have been managed by data. the challenge is that, in a world where people are looking for certainty, the data is incomplete, yet decisions still must be made and acted upon.
This is the same as in business. With the (possible) exception of e-commerce order data, analytics aren’t definitive, they are indicative. Analytics suggest trends. They don’t deliver certainty. Even with e-commerce, just because it happened last week/last month doesn’t mean to say it will happen next week/next month. Instead, you should use the indications of the data in conjunction with your own knowledge and experience to make definitive decisions. The data will not normally give you the answer but it can improve your decision making by narrowing meaningful choice. By making decisions from a narrower field of realistic options, it is likely that those decisions will be better.
Using analytics to guide your decision-making process can make that process more effective. More effective decisions are more likely to improve your marketing process.
Analytics in the real world.
I’ll finish with 3 practical tips to help you use analytics in your business to drive a more effective marketing process:
- Keep it simple.Analytics systems generate unimaginable quantities of data every day. Don’t get caught into seeing your own data as the be-all and end-all of your business. Analytics is merely a tool (albeit a useful tool!) which should help you run your real business. Keep your analytics goals simple and relevant. It is better to focus on a handful of key metrics that really benefit your business over time, than to blind yourself with data overload in the hope that you might just uncover some ‘magic-wand‘ of information
- Use a dashboardThere are numerous dashboard tools out there that can really help keep you focussed on your key metrics. They can take a bit of effort to set up correctly but it is worth it as you can end up with a valuable and practical business management tool. We look at dashboards in more detail in this article.
- Remember, business is a process, not an event.When you look at your data dashboard, avoid knee-jerk reactions. The success of your processes become more visible over time – and often in hindsight rather than as you are going along. I regularly find that it is only when I look back over 6-12 months that I really appreciate the progress we have made.
And finally, never forget that running your own SME business is a big commitment of time and effort, so try to enjoy yourself – at least some of the time!