“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”  The Art of War – Sun Tzu

 “So how did your last marketing campaign go?

Well, eh, we pulled out all the stops, got a great billboard on a high street, it got out on time, but we went over  budget.

But how effective was it, did you see an improvement in Sales?

It was an awareness campaign

Ah ok, so how more is your market place aware?


This is a typical conversation I have with Marketing Departments which is a sign that the marketing return for the business is broken. While sometimes you can get lucky and things work out, more often than not, it won’t.

With ever changing economic conditions, whatever money and time is spent, in any aspect of your business for that matter, needs to see a return on investment and this is especially true for Marketing.

Market FLow 1

What you see above is the flow of a typical marketing campaign. Which looks like you have everything covered, until you take a closer look. When you analyse at the end, what are you analysing? Are you waiting on Sales to come through? You may find that you are waiting. I call this the Hollywood Blockbuster Campaign Model. That is, create the movie, a few months before the release, rollout a MONSTER Marketing Campaign and then hope that people will go see it. Sound familiar? Would you be surprised to know that the average Hollywood Studio produces about 10 films per year, yet only 2 become a Hollywood Blockbuster? That implies, 8 of those movies that were produced with MONSTER Budgets and marketing with MONSTER Campaigns, didn’t deliver and in fact cost the studio and a PHENOMENAL amount of revenue. Why didn’t they just produce the 2 movies they knew would be Blockbusters and leave it at that?

That’s exactly what Steve Jobs did with PIXAR through Toy Story and Shrek, now re read the quote at the beginning of the article! He discovered what the market wanted before he developed any movies and also created feedback systems all the way through production to gauge how receptive the market was going to be well in advance of the release date. He created ANTICIPATION!

Let’s take it for now that you have a product and now how to market. While you can conduct all the market research in the world, that only boils down to having market assumptions at best, which absolutely need to be validated before spending a small fortune on a Hollywood Blockbuster style campaign. With so many variables and so many avenues to market, there needs to be a cycle of continuous testing and tweaking to find the avenues that are most effective for your product market fit, which are based on discovering your Marketing Critical Factors (MCFs). So what does this really mean? Let us look at another example of a marketing campaign, it’s extended somewhat.

Market FLow 4

You can clearly see the addition of a few extra steps and a tweak of another. Before rolling out any Marketing Campaign, you need to have a precisely developed feedback mechanism, so you know exactly how effective the campaign penetration is. And when you execute you are monitoring it and tweaking the flow of the campaign in realtime e.g. Changing the CALL TO ACTION. Post Campaign, you are now analysing the information you’ve received through your feedback system and can then decide if this is an avenue you can either continue to work with, may require a little tweaking OR to discard and move on to the next avenue.  However it still doesn’t stop there. Marketing is not only the first activity you should do with your potential customers, it’s also the last activity after the sale happens by learning how you can step into your customers Playground to continue to engage and play with them.

So what does a feedback mechanism look like?

Here are a few very simple examples to get you thinking

  • In a magazine article send your market to a specific web page that is not accessible through the links on your site this will tell you if you created a compelling Call to Action
  • Set up a specific Toll Free number for that particular campaign
  • Use Barcoding or Labels to track at your retail outlets

This is where you really have to challenge yourself to see if what you think is a great Call to Action for your Product/Service, really is. I briefly mentioned Market Critical Factors (MCFs) above as when you are beginning a campaign, you literally have a set of assumptions which are important to validate. Before launching on a large scale, validate your assumptions on a small scale to get a realistic picture of how the market will react. Some MCFs would include:

  • Competitiveness
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Health of Market
    • Do we know it exits?
  • Where and how do we gather this data?
  • Do we have Market Intelligence?
    • Should be part of monthly KPIs
    • Should also be a part of future sales contracts

This brings us back to one my favourite topics, if you haven’t guessed it by now, it’s KPIs!!

With marketing, I can’t stress enough the importance of having real-time and relevant KPIs so you know at all times, how your marketing is performing in relation to supporting your sales function.

I am not talking about lots and lots of KPIs, I am talking about creating a small group of highly effective ones. Follow the process as described and over time you will have a unique and tailored set for your marketing department.

BuildMLEric Ries, in his book The Lean Start Up, developed his process of ‘Build – Measure – Learn’ stating it is a continuous cycle that you never stop. You don’t stop after one process and get some market feedback, you keep doing it, tweaking and improving it so that you get more and more refined. This means more and more effective! Which supports the concept of NOTHING SHOULD BE LEFT TO CHANCE, especially in the marketplace. Every activity should be a precision activity.

Whether it’s:

  • Return on Marketing Investment
  • Sales Revenue
  • Traffic Sources
  • Lead Generation/Qualified Leads/Cost per Lead
  • Traffic to Lead %
  • Lead to Sales %
  • Market Critical Factors
  • Assumption Validation/Validation Learning

NB: Please ensure you pick KPIs that are completely relevant to what you are working with and achieving in your marketing.

Where Does Marketing Stop?

Do you think, that once you have created the sale between a combination of marketing and sales work that you are finished? Do you think that your job is done?

I’m sure you will agree that it’s not. In fact, it’s really just beginning. You have reached a milestone in obtaining the customer, however it’s just that, a milestone. The key is:

  1. Focusing on retaining the customer
  2. Developing them into your best sales people or in becoming a brand advocate

Now let’s look at that marketing process again.

Market FLow 4

This is once again about leaving nothing to chance; developing a Win – Win process and strategies that will give you the best opportunity to retain your customer. This, in turn, will develop future sales and also the opportunity for them to be become your best sales people.

I can’t tell you how many times in the past that one successful job with a customer has led to them becoming a brand advocate and selling my services, leaving me just to close the deal….the easiest sale in the game! Happy customers and testimonials are some of your most powerful marketing messages, so why shouldn’t they be a formal part of your process?

At a High Level, it’s paramount that you include the full process and create the detail underneath each step of how you are doing, to achieve the results you want. As I’ve said before, you may not get it right first time, but it’s about getting started. Over time you will improve on your strategy.

Over To YOU

So what feedback systems can you generate for YOUR CAMPAIGNS?


How are you going to move into YOUR Customers PLAYGROUND?