Small Business Marketing

Evaluating the Success of a Marketing Plan

Written by Amy Bax for Gaebler Ventures

Measuring the success of a marketing plan is a task that many business owners overlook, dooming their organization to repeat previous marketing mistakes. Here's how to evaluate whether your marketing plan got the job done.

You have a great idea for a marketing campaign to boost profits or awareness for your company- now what?

How do you know if you should continue or repeat the project? Would you define it as successful, or did it not achieve what you wanted it to?

Here are a couple ways to realize the definition of success of your project, and also things to consider when deciding if a campaign should be repeated.

Using SMART When Listing Objectives of Your Marketing Campaign

Think back to when you made your marketing plan. What were the objectives you wanted to achieve from the marketing campaign you chose?

All objectives should be listed using the SMART concept. They should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed (SMART).

For example, a vague objective such as "to increase business" will not work for several reasons. First of all, this is not specific. What, in particular, are you trying to increase? More profits, customers, etc.?

More importantly, "increase business" is not a timed goal. Do you want to increase business in three weeks? Three months? Three years?

Because you are not specific in what you mean and when you want to accomplish it, you cannot accurately measure the objective. A better objective would be "to increase the sales of our product by 5% in a year after the campaign has started. So at the end of that year, you will be able to easily define if you have achieved the objective or not.

Results should not always be measured in terms of profits. In the short-term, you may not see any difference in profits. In the long-term, you may see the increase you like, but it could also have to do with many other economic and social factors.

If there is a sudden event or a recession is occurring, even though the campaign was effective, profits may still drop or stay the same. Consider also having objectives that measure the increase in customers or traffic flow through the store.

Also, know what you are measuring. Outcomes, such as profit or increase in traffic flow, are not only a result of what the campaign accomplishes, but also what you, your employees, and other factors did to cause them. It would be a good idea to also set some objectives that need to be accomplished by you and your team so the campaign will run effectively. Consider what needs to be completed before, during, and after the campaign and include them in your plan. This will ensure that the campaign will reach its optimal potential.

Assessing Results After the Marketing Campaign

Now that the campaign is in process or right after it has ended, watch the results closely. Benchmarking results periodically to see the direction the campaign is taking your business will help you understand if there is a need to alter the plan in anyway.

Once you've begun to evaluate if you have achieved or not achieved your objectives, consider other factors that are not included in your plan. Just because you did not receive the return on profit or increase in customers, was there another factor you may not have realized that resulted from the campaign?

Current customers may be more satisfied or aware of other services you have to offer because of the campaign and have increased their business. Or, a new market that you were not originally targeting may have realized a need for your product or service.

Also, because you have employees involved, there may be positive consequences from them that were not originally considered. Through involvement of one campaign, your employees may have ideas or discovered new practices that also benefit the campaign and business. Or by working on the project, they may have realized a new sense of pride in their company and the teamwork is stronger than ever before.

Keep this in mind as you evaluate your original campaign and plan new ones.

Amy Bax is interested in providing innovative informational resources to entrepreneurs. She is currently an MBA student at the University of Missouri - Columbia.

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