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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.