One of the biggest reasons people fail in marketing is that they never get beyond random, episodic campaigns to marketing assets built on SYSTEMS and PROCESS.
The other day a marketing manager asked if we had any “summer” campaigns she could run. She said she had already done a number of our campaigns and wanted something “new.” Something for the Fourth of July or “hot” days of summer? (I thought of telling her to model something from my “Africa Hot” campaign, but I didn’t want to have the little lamb slaughtered by the tramps and trolls, LOL.)
Establishing marketing systems
While using a holiday as the basis for a campaign is perfectly fine and often a very good idea, the part of the question that worried me was the “looking for something new” because she had “already done” a number of campaigns. This tells me she hasn’t graduated beyond the “episodic” approach to marketing to establishing system certainty.
For example, our Godfather campaign, which consists of offline and online media, has been running for over four years now, consistently producing leads, appointments, and sales. We DO constantly tweak and innovate, but the core of it — the offer, sales letter, and follow-up process — has been largely the same for this entire period of time. And, it has consistently produced six sales appointments with qualified prospects (on the low end) to 14 appointments (on the high end) per 100 sent. The LAST thing I want to do is abandon using this because “I’ve already done that campaign” to find something new.
But when I talk about “systems,” most really don’t know what that looks like and don’t truly have any in their business. So below I’ve given you an outline to help you understand the PROCESS of improving and innovating a working, productive system versus finding something “new.” The ONLY time we seek truly “new” is A) when the current system or process is no longer working, or B) as a means for looking for a new control WHILE we continue to run the current process.
5 Things every process needs
For starters, every “process” needs at least five things:
- What is the result we are trying to produce with this system? What does success look like? You have to define that to know, ultimately, if the system is working. Our Godfather campaign’s goal is to facilitate the new-client acquisition and sales goals for the sales team. In the current quarter, we are defining “success” as 225 consultations conducted or “sat.” Aggressive, but doable.
- Why are we doing this? A good question you should routinely ask about everything you do in your business. In this case, we’re doing this to keep the company growing, which is a critical component of hitting revenue and profit targets. Nevertheless, you should document WHY you are doing something.
- What metrics or KPIs, both leading and trailing, do we need to monitor? For us, it’s the number mailed, the number of dials, the percentages of bad addresses, unqualifieds, dials, prospects pitched, appointments scheduled, and appointments KEPT. All successful systems require metrics to be measured, reported, and analyzed.
- Who’s responsible for making this happen? Often systems and processes may involve the cooperation of multiple people. In this case, it requires my CRM administrator to ensure the list is clean and qualified. It requires our appointment-setting team to be hitting their activity goals and metrics. It requires the marketing team to ensure the printer sends the campaigns out on time, and the marketing admins to send the e-mails, Facebook ads, and LinkedIn connections correctly and to follow the process outlined. ULTIMATELY, it’s up to me to ensure all of this is done correctly.
- Do you have documentation on how the system is SUPPOSED to work? Processes require documentation on how things SHOULD be happening. If it’s in your head, or in someone else’s head, it’s no good to anyone. It HAS to be documented and shared.
“Processes require documentation on how things SHOULD be happening. If it’s in your head, or in someone else’s head, it’s no good to anyone.” @RobinRobins @SmarterMSP
Steps to innovation
Once the above five things are in place, we go through a constant evolution of the following steps:
INNOVATION: What is one thing we can test to try to improve the output, productivity, or results? Recently we tested adding on an additional FULL-SIZED mail package after the first, sent a week later (we tested postcards in the past). Doing this nearly tripled our results. We are further testing a few variations on the e-mail and LinkedIn aspects of the campaign, as well as the scripts. Sometimes you get a BIG win like the one described here. Other times you get zero lift or even a decline.
IMPLEMENTATION: Once you’ve chosen an improvement or innovation to test, it needs to be IMPLEMENTED properly. Quite honestly, THIS is where most systems fall apart. It requires management to check for compliance, and then train and/or discipline when non-compliance is found.
For example, a colleague of mine who does marketing for chiropractors had one of his members complain the ads and offers weren’t “working.” Being local, he decided to visit this client’s office and see what was going on. Upon visiting, he overheard the front-desk secretary say to a prospective client calling in that the “offer is just a hoax” and that they only do this as a “marketing ploy” to get new patients. Problem found.
If you want to make sure the process is being followed, you have to monitor, secret shop, and be willing to sniff around. NOBODY likes doing this, but it’s essential to know if the innovation or improvement you’ve cooked up is actually being implemented.
QUANTIFICATION: Once you’re certain an innovation has been implemented, then we quantify the impact. When retailers tested asking, “Have you been in here before?” against the normal “Can I help you?” they found a 30-percent increase in sales. Something as SIMPLE as that made a huge difference.
EVALUATION: Once we’ve quantified the impact, we DECIDE if this is something we want to continue. We evaluate the results and decide what to do.
DOCUMENTATION: If the impact is positive, we make that the NEW standard for that process and document this as the new operating procedure (next step). From there, we go back to INNOVATION.
I will caution you NOT to test two or three “new” innovations in a process at one time. If you change the list and the telemarketing script, you won’t know which one had the impact. Some tests (innovations) will show instant, immediate improvement, while others will need to “simmer” for a while before you can come to any conclusions.