Don’t settle for weak marketing/communication objectives

How do you determine whether your marketing, communication or PR efforts are working? You track and measure results, right? But what if you don’t have specific objectives to measure? Then whether or not things are truly working is just a guessing game.

I’m surprised by the number of “plans” that I’ve seen that lack measurable objectives or any stated plan for measurement, and I’m continually amazed that CMOs and CEOs accept these from their internal staff or outside agency.

Objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable and challenging. Many marketers make the mistake of having directional objectives such as “increase brand visibility” or “generate new leads” or “increase name recognition.” The problem with these kinds of vague objectives is there’s no way to tell when they’ve been achieved or even if they have that there’s been any worthwhile impact. For example, does a 1 percent increase in name recognition achieve the objective “increase name recognition”? I suppose that there was any increase would mean that it does, but in most cases a 1 percent increase isn’t significant enough to satisfy management – especially when you weigh this against what was spent to achieve the 1 percent increase.

Setting measurable objectives means assigning numbers, for example:

  • “Increase name recognition by 10 percent”
  • “Increase target market online sales 25 percent”
  • “Capture 15 percent market share in the IT conference segment”
  • “Increase blood supply by persuading 35 percent of non-donors to donate blood for the first time”

Moving objectives from generic and vague to specific and measurable makes accountability possible and gives a more realistic picture in terms of results.

If you’re being presented with plans that don’t have measurable objectives laid out, at the very least, send them back and ask for revisions.


A true story about what can happen if you don’t monitor your brand

Some PR advice I give is to regularly monitor the Internet to see what’s being said about your company and key principals. Considering the speed with which information spreads online, brand reputations are built or harmed in real-time these days. So, I tell clients to set up a Google Alert and search social media networks to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s being said about them.

Fortunately, I follow my own advice. Thanks to a Google Alert I set up, I discovered someone was using my father’s name, without permission, as the name of their blog.

For many years, my dad, Gib Shanley, was the radio voice of the Cleveland Browns and a TV sportscaster. I set up a Google Alert a long time ago so that I’d get an e-mail notification whenever his name appears in online news or blogs. I was recently surprised by an alert I received about a “Gib Shanley Store” – since my father passed away in April 2008. I checked out the site and discovered it was a blog that featured reviews about Garmin watches and audio speakers, with the name “Gib Shanley Store” prominently displayed in nice big type.

After checking with family members, it became clear someone was using my dad’s name – perhaps to get high search rankings and traffic…although I can’t say for sure because whoever it was never responded to my inquiries.

I posted a comment to the blog letting the person behind it know he or she didn’t have permission to use the name and that doing so is illegal. I included this link and told them to remove the name immediately. Whoever it was (no identity was given on the blog) wisely complied, because I would have taken legal action.

Had I not been monitoring online mentions of my dad, I would have never known…and this could have been a site about something much worse than watches and speakers.

When it comes to brand reputation, what you don’t know can hurt you. Keep an eye on yours.

Kenneth Cole is latest to contract foot-in-mouth disease

Seriously, what was Kenneth Cole thinking when he posted a tweet using the current situation in Egypt as a springboard for promoting his spring collection?

There’s no excuse for this PR disaster when so much information about the do’s and don’ts of Twitter is literally at Cole’s fingertips. All it takes is a few minutes of Internet research. If you’re going to participate in social media, then the least you should do is do a little online investigating to get the lay of the land first. Before you insert shoe in mouth.

Contrary to what some people say about there being no such thing as bad PR (and they might want to give some serious thought to Enron, Toyota and BP), it can never be good when you or your company name is viewed negatively. Gini Dietrich summed it up nicely with this analysis:

Anytime you have to issue an apology and interrupt your work growing your business, that is bad PR. No matter how many people are talking about you.

Who knows whether Cole did this on purpose as a PR stunt. It really doesn’t matter. No matter what the long-term impact turns out to be, this was insensitive and showed poor judgment.

Is a Super Bowl or American Idol commercial worth the cost?

Photo by graur razvan ionut

You’d really have to be living under a rock to not be aware of the recent launch of the new American Idol season and the upcoming Super Bowl XLV– two of the most expensive advertising vehicles for marketers.

Whether or not advertising during the Super Bowl and American Idol is worth the high dollars that are being spent depends on the company, the product, its integration with other marketing communications and its memorability.

Both the Super Bowl and American Idol draw huge audiences and practically every demographic and psychographic group. They also have some differences, though. With American Idol, advertisers can repeat their pitches multiple times, since the show runs 2-3 times weekly. While this is not true with the Super Bowl, what the Super Bowl offers advertisers is scarcity (a one-time finale) that produces a huge amount of anticipation both for the game and the ads. People who aren’t even sports fans will watch so that they can be a part of the post-game/ads talk.

And yet, advertising during either of these shows does not guarantee success. Just ask any of the companies, like, that went bust after their Super Bowl advertisements aired.

Studies show that the Super Bowl is a great launching pad for a new product or to create brand awareness. Examples cited include Apple’s introduction of the Mac in 1984, and more recent product launches by Chrysler, Gillette and Victoria’s Secret. And when a Super Bowl ad is combined with other marketing communication mediums, such as an online promotion, direct mail, social media and print ad campaign, it can extend its effectiveness for weeks, providing the advertiser is careful not to over-saturate the market to the point of irritating consumers and turning them off.

In my opinion, staying top-of-mind among consumers beyond the Super Bowl or an American Idol episode is the true test of whether the ad was worth the money it took to develop it and the associated media spend costs. This is supported by Lisa Haverty and Stephen Blessing who developed a metric, CogScore, that examines six cognitive principles in an attempt to predict the memorability of the brand from any given ad. CogScore is based on the belief that awareness, persuasion and likeability of an ad will have no effect if the brand being advertised is not remembered as belonging to that ad. In their study, they examined ad recall of Super Bowl ads a year after the game aired. Not only were many of the brands and products not remembered, several were wrongly matched with a competitor’s brand. These are companies that did not get their money’s worth out of their ads.

Business Insider offers a preview of this year’s commercials if you haven’t already seen them and can’t wait until Sunday.

Which commercials do you think will score high in memorability?

Welcome to my brandiose blog

Welcome to Brandiose Marketing – a blog about all things marketing that reflects my passion for both blogging and integrated marketing communications. I’ve spent several years honing my marketing skills for one reason and one reason only: I love what I do. Join me as I share my thoughts and opinions about what’s going on in the world of marketing.