PIMMS – Management – Check your direction

PIMMS process so far has been to set a plan and implement the actions set out in the plan, then monitoring the effect & impact of those actions. These are all joined-up functional processes, but the key to an effective business is how we manage these processes to check you are travelling in the right direction to deliver the best outcomes.

It may be a statement of the obvious but management is the key to business. You often hear people saying I am spending too much time working in my business when I should on my business. Another way of looking at this is to say I need to free up time from doing the day-to-day tasks. I also need time to actually manage my business.

“The entrepreneur searches for change, responds to it,
and exploits it as an opportunity”

If you don’t allow time to manage your business, then progress is primarily a result of luck.

This is why management is one of the 5 key elements of the PIMMS process – and why we stress the importance of not trying to implement too many different communication strategies.

You might feel that the more people you talk to, the better but if you don’t plan for time to manage your marketing processes, you run the risk of running around like a headless chicken.  Equally, don’t spend too much time ‘managing‘. It is all about having a joined-up and balanced approach.

How often are we going to review progress?

While reviewing progress is an essential part of the management process, it is important not to micro-manage. Sometimes you just need to set things running and then give them time.

Most of my clients are B2B. Their businesses often focus on niche markets where customers operate in specialist fields. Customer and target market numbers are lower and customer values are correspondingly higher. As most marketing management is focused on statistics, it is important not to let the statistical swings that small numbers can throw up, cause knee-jerk reactions in your marketing activities. As a general rule, it is better to give your marketing more time than you might first think, to let the results and statistics settle and become more reliable.

Inevitably, some activities respond more quickly than others. Use common sense to decide whether an activity has been running long enough to enable the results to be meaningful and a real-world reflection of your marketing effectiveness.

3 examples:

  • PR – there are probably only limited opportunities through the year that you are going to pick up on. Review your PR responses in line with these schedules.
  • SEO – here it is easy to over-focus and become lost in the myriad statistics that are available. Normally the best approach is to set your plan then let the statistics build for at least a month before reviewing. Also, try not to change too many things at once. Keep your objectives and adjustments simple so you will know what change has what impact.
  • Ads/PPC – Pay per click is the exception to the general rule of giving things more time than you might first think.  In the world of PPC, things happen quickly so there is a risk of significant expenditure on ineffective promotion. Make sure you set financial limits you are comfortable with and review activity every few days.

Set up your monitoring so that your data is easily accessible.

Time is always precious so if it isn’t easy to get at the data you need to manage your business, you are more likely to move on to something else! There are numerous tools available on the internet these days (many of them free) that can make the business of managing your marketing a LOT easier.

With so much marketing being focussed around the internet (and let’s face it, your website is probably your core marketing communication tool), data is more available than ever before. It is well worth investing in setting up (and understanding!) effective monitoring processes to draw out key information and make it easily and readily available when you need it.

Some tools that I use regularly that have proved their worth are:

If you would like an introduction to any of the above, please give me a call.

Before I move on, I note on free tools…Although it is great if you can get benefit from the ‘free version’ of an internet tool, don’t forget that sometimes, paying for the ‘Pro version’ can be a sensible move.

Objectives of management & review

I reckon there are 3 main reasons why management of your marketing processes are valuable:

  1. Avoid surprises
    While it is important not to have knee-jerk reactions to your marketing performance. Some things can bite you if you don’t keep an eye on them. Possibly the most obvious is Pay Per Click. Poorly configured campaigns can eat cash. You can set limits when you set up your Pay Per Click as a fail-safe but one of the key features of this type of marketing is its responsiveness to change.  I have seen campaigns that are generating valuable data within minutes of being set up. Effective marketing management can avoid (or at least limit) potentially expensive errors.
  2. Understand engagement/impact
    Managing your marketing enables you to understand the engagement and impact you are having with your audience. There is little business value in singing if no one is listening.
  3. Identify opportunities for refinement
    Knowing how many people engage with your marketing and how they engage (do they download white papers, watch videos, read articles etc.?) is a great way of seeing what is working and what isn’t. With this information, you can refine your approach. Down the line, you can then see whether your changes have had the desired effect and improved overall performance. Remember, as I mentioned above, while refinement is good and sensible, make sure you give your marketing time to produce meaningful outcomes before you start changing things.

Final thoughts

  1. Allocate appropriate resources to managing your marketing. It will take some time but with good preparation, the demands shouldn’t be onerous. Let’s face it, if they are then you are unlikely to stick at it.
  2. It won’t be perfect. No matter how much you plan and prepare, the outcomes won’t be perfect. A key part of the management process is to minimise the negative and maximise the positive.
  3. Keep it real. You are marketing in the real-world. As the general once said: ‘No plan survives first contact with the enemy’. It’s the real-world outcomes that must be managed.

Get the balance right and PIMMS will guide you on the path to a sustainable, effective business development process.

Is your Marketing Working?

In this weeks podcast, we talk about the first M in PIMMS – “Monitoring”. The key objective in monitoring your marketing is to answer the question “Is it working?” but before you answer this, you need to ask yourself a different question:

What are my marketing objectives?

In many owner-managed businesses, there is a very close relationship (even overlap) between marketing and sales. Marketing performance is measured in terms of enquiries and/or orders. It is seen as a means of generating sales.

While sales promotion is certainly an aspect of marketing, it is only one end of a much wider spectrum. A while ago I wrote about the Marketing Spectrum in this article. Understanding this spectrum makes it easier to put your marketing efforts in the context of your business as a whole rather than just as a route to short-term sales. Also, by recognising aspects of marketing that are focussed on building your company’s brand and image in your marketplace, you can make your sales-promotion efforts more effective.

Potential customers who know you better will have more confidence in doing business with you.

So, is your marketing working?

You need to know your marketing objectives but inevitably, you should have a handle on whether your marketing is working. If it is, you want to manage it (But that’s the next episode). If it isn’t, you need to understand why not and then use this knowledge to do something different, and hopefully more effective.

Of course, you can always compare sales revenue against marketing effort/cost. This may seem obvious but it has drawbacks:

  • The time between starting marketing and seeing sales can be quite long so you may be putting resources into poor marketing for longer than you need.
  • If you have repeat customers, it is harder to relate lifetime value to sales promotion
  • Just because somebody isn’t buying now, doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in what you offer. Maybe you need to work to build the relationship first?

Check your marketing

Here are some key marketing tools. Against each I have given some tests you could apply. I’m sure you don’t use all of them but pick the ones you do.

1. Are you proud of your website?

Your website is likely to be your key marketing tool. You should be proud of it and want people to visit for the best information on what you do and how you help people. Even if you use Social Media and other marketing tools online or offline, your website is where people will go to find out more. It is also the platform when you have full control over what you say and how you say it.

If you are reluctant to send people to your site, or find it difficult to keep up to date – Websites should be dynamic – This should ring alarm bells!

2. Is your Search Engine Optimisation focussed on rankings or traffic?

Most SEO companies offer to ‘get you to the top of Google‘. They leave it to you to make the connection that if you are at the top of Google more potential customers will visit your site and then contact you. This connection is not necessarily valid. Rather than being focused on search ranking, you should be focused on traffic. Being #1 on Google is irrelevant if no-one visits your site! If more people are visiting your site, your business is more visible and this is (part of) the marketing process.

As with most monitoring Google Analytics is your friend. Using Google Analytics makes it easy to see are people finding your website through search engines, and more importantly, are they actually spending “Quality time on the site, and are the visits turning into enquiries or other valuable actions like viewing pdfs or videos. All of this can be monitored through analytics.

3. Is your Pay Per Click under control?

Pay per click (most commonly, Google Advertising) can be very effective as a marketing tool or an expensive ego trip. (Let’s face it, this is where most of the Google $billions come from!). The key to PPC is monitoring and control. If you have it under control, you should know the exact cost of each ‘conversion’ (i.e. Sale, enquiry, sign-up, site visit, or whatever it is you are measuring). If you know the cost, you can decide whether you are comfortable with it. If you don’t know, you should! Measuring this is again relatively straight forward using Google Analytics.

Note: 2 and 3 above both just ways to drive visitors to your website. If your website isn’t telling the right story (see #1 above), good traffic will be getting the wrong message. Website analytics is the key tool to monitor how visitors find your site and then what they do when they get there.

4. Is your Social Media up to date?

When did you last post on your Social Media platform(s)? How does this compare with your competitors? If you are up there with them, or even leading the way, that’s fine. If not, maybe you could think about how you can get more active. Alternatively, ask yourself whether Social Media is the right approach for you?

5. Are you getting Social Media engagement?

How much engagement do you get back from your Social Media followers? You may be regularly Tweeting, posting etc. but it is only worth it if people take notice. Bear in mind that people visiting your website as a result of your Social Media activity may not show up as ‘Likes’ or Comments’. Again, website analytics is your friend for the full picture.

These 5 are just some ideas as to how you can check whether your marketing is working. The answer will be extremely valuable in helping you drive effective marketing.

Regarding the practicalities of monitoring social media – Whilst (other than measuring site visits) this can’t be done using Google analytics alone, most social platforms offer there own stats. However its often good to get all of the data in one place. This can be done very effectively using Google Data studio. Whilst data studio is free to use, getting the data into if from the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, Intragram & Facebook will require the use of third party connectors (we use Reporting Ninja). Whilst there is a charge for using these tools, in our experience, they offer great value by allowing you to aggregate all your monitoring into one place.

Here are 4 more:

  • Are you tracking responses to all your online and offline advertising?
  • Are your PR articles being published?
  • Does your PR deliver a balance between paid adverts and editorial?
  • Do you follow up on your quotations and enquiries?

There is no magic wand

Remember there is rarely (if ever) a quick fix magic wand to a marketing problem (read more about this here). Marketing should be integral to your business and you should be in control. Uncontrolled marketing is likely to be:

 

A: Expensive
B: Disappointing
or
C: Both!

A final thought

Monitoring your marketing is only of any use if it feeds into your management processes. We shall talk more about that next time. In the meantime, if this series has got you thinking and would like some help with monitoring, or any other element of your marketing – I am always happy to chat.

In this weeks podcast, we talk about the first M in PIMMS – “Monitoring”. The key objective in monitoring your marketing is to answer the question “Is it working?” but before you answer this, you need to ask yourself a different question:

What are my marketing objectives?

In many owner-managed businesses, there is a very close relationship (even overlap) between marketing and sales. Marketing performance is measured in terms of enquiries and/or orders. It is seen as a means of generating sales.

While sales promotion is certainly an aspect of marketing, it is only one end of a much wider spectrum. A while ago I wrote about the Marketing Spectrum in this article. Understanding this spectrum makes it easier to put your marketing efforts in the context of your business as a whole rather than just as a route to short-term sales. Also, by recognising aspects of marketing that are focussed on building your company’s brand and image in your marketplace, you can make your sales-promotion efforts more effective.

Potential customers who know you better will have more confidence in doing business with you.

So, is your marketing working?

You need to know your marketing objectives but inevitably, you should have a handle on whether your marketing is working. If it is, you want to manage it (But that’s the next episode). If it isn’t, you need to understand why not and then use this knowledge to do something different, and hopefully more effective.

Of course, you can always compare sales revenue against marketing effort/cost. This may seem obvious but it has drawbacks:

  • The time between starting marketing and seeing sales can be quite long so you may be putting resources into poor marketing for longer than you need.
  • If you have repeat customers, it is harder to relate lifetime value to sales promotion
  • Just because somebody isn’t buying now, doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in what you offer. Maybe you need to work to build the relationship first?

Check your marketing

Here are some key marketing tools. Against each I have given some tests you could apply. I’m sure you don’t use all of them but pick the ones you do.

1. Are you proud of your website?

Your website is likely to be your key marketing tool. You should be proud of it and want people to visit for the best information on what you do and how you help people. Even if you use Social Media and other marketing tools online or offline, your website is where people will go to find out more. It is also the platform when you have full control over what you say and how you say it.

If you are reluctant to send people to your site, or find it difficult to keep up to date – Websites should be dynamic – This should ring alarm bells!

2. Is your Search Engine Optimisation focussed on rankings or traffic?

Most SEO companies offer to ‘get you to the top of Google‘. They leave it to you to make the connection that if you are at the top of Google more potential customers will visit your site and then contact you. This connection is not necessarily valid. Rather than being focused on search ranking, you should be focused on traffic. Being #1 on Google is irrelevant if no-one visits your site! If more people are visiting your site, your business is more visible and this is (part of) the marketing process.

As with most monitoring Google Analytics is your friend. Using Google Analytics makes it easy to see are people finding your website through search engines, and more importantly, are they actually spending “Quality time on the site, and are the visits turning into enquiries or other valuable actions like viewing pdfs or videos. All of this can be monitored through analytics.

3. Is your Pay Per Click under control?

Pay per click (most commonly, Google Advertising) can be very effective as a marketing tool or an expensive ego trip. (Let’s face it, this is where most of the Google $billions come from!). The key to PPC is monitoring and control. If you have it under control, you should know the exact cost of each ‘conversion’ (i.e. Sale, enquiry, sign-up, site visit, or whatever it is you are measuring). If you know the cost, you can decide whether you are comfortable with it. If you don’t know, you should! Measuring this is again relatively straight forward using Google Analytics.

Note: 2 and 3 above both just ways to drive visitors to your website. If your website isn’t telling the right story (see #1 above), good traffic will be getting the wrong message. Website analytics is the key tool to monitor how visitors find your site and then what they do when they get there.

4. Is your Social Media up to date?

When did you last post on your Social Media platform(s)? How does this compare with your competitors? If you are up there with them, or even leading the way, that’s fine. If not, maybe you could think about how you can get more active. Alternatively, ask yourself whether Social Media is the right approach for you?

5. Are you getting Social Media engagement?

How much engagement do you get back from your Social Media followers? You may be regularly Tweeting, posting etc. but it is only worth it if people take notice. Bear in mind that people visiting your website as a result of your Social Media activity may not show up as ‘Likes’ or Comments’. Again, website analytics is your friend for the full picture.

These 5 are just some ideas as to how you can check whether your marketing is working. The answer will be extremely valuable in helping you drive effective marketing.

Regarding the practicalities of monitoring social media – Whilst (other than measuring site visits) this can’t be done using Google analytics alone, most social platforms offer there own stats. However its often good to get all of the data in one place. This can be done very effectively using Google Data studio. Whilst data studio is free to use, getting the data into if from the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, Intragram & Facebook will require the use of third party connectors (we use Reporting Ninja). Whilst there is a charge for using these tools, in our experience, they offer great value by allowing you to aggregate all your monitoring into one place.

Here are 4 more:

  • Are you tracking responses to all your online and offline advertising?
  • Are your PR articles being published?
  • Does your PR deliver a balance between paid adverts and editorial?
  • Do you follow up on your quotations and enquiries?

There is no magic wand

Remember there is rarely (if ever) a quick fix magic wand to a marketing problem (read more about this here). Marketing should be integral to your business and you should be in control. Uncontrolled marketing is likely to be:

 

A: Expensive
B: Disappointing
or
C: Both!

A final thought

Monitoring your marketing is only of any use if it feeds into your management processes. We shall talk more about that next time. In the meantime, if this series has got you thinking and would like some help with monitoring, or any other element of your marketing – I am always happy to chat.