To Market Effectively, Start with a Leading Indicator

To Market Effectively, Start with a Leading Indicator

Marketing, especially brand awareness marketing, can feel slippery. 

Budgets are allocated to television spots and social ads and display advertising, but beyond quantifying general metrics like viewership and impressions and clicks, there are often some lingering (and important) questions around effectiveness.

How effective is it for one person to see your commercial?

How effective is an impression in the long run?

And what does a click really mean for your business?  

They’re tough questions to answer, to be sure, but I also think they’re the wrong metrics to be paying attention to in the first place.

Yes, they’re easy to track and report on, but they’re easy to track and report on for everyone, which assumes that metrics like these, and even other vanity metrics (likes, shares, comments), are equally valuable to every business, no matter who they are or what they do.

But we know that to be patently false, because every business is markedly different in myriad ways.  

At its core, marketing is both a noun and a verb, a department and an activity.

It’s a system of strategies and tactics—and of course people—that exist solely to help an organization realize its goals, both short and long term, whatever they may be, by deploying creativity in the most novel and effective manner possible.

And rarely is an organization’s goal to get the most comments on its social media posts or the most eyeballs on its television ad.

Those things may indeed be important, and worthy of investment, but they’re secondary to the other goals an organization might have: acquiring a certain number of new customers by the end of the fiscal year, raising the average shopping cart order size, or getting more “at-bats.”

The way to market a business in the most effective manner, by which I mean a manner that helps accomplish the organization’s economic goals, is to ensure that each marketing strategy and tactic is aligned with a leading indicator, which is a measurable set of data that may help to forecast future economic activity.

This is easier than it sounds, but it does involve some math.

Say an organization’s annual goal is to increase its gross revenue by five percent, which amounts to an increase of a million dollars. Let’s also say that each customer is worth $25,000 to the business.

Therefore, forty new customers are needed to hit the goal. ($25,000 x 40) 

Say your sales team, based on historical data, has identified the fact that each time they can deliver an in-person sales presentation to a qualified prospect, there’s an 85% chance that they will close a deal.

This piece of information is a leading indicator.

Marketing’s job in this scenario is to increase the number of in-person presentations the sales team has to the tune of forty-seven. (Forty is roughly 85 percent of forty-seven. To put it another way, forty-seven in-person presentations should yield forty closed deals.)  

As a result, the marketing strategy and tactics should be designed to accomplish that one goal—increasing the number of in-person sales presentations—and that one goal only.

Maybe it means creating content that speaks to qualified leads who are further along in the sales funnel.

Maybe it means organizing an incentive-based campaign.

Maybe it means creating new customer personas that yield entirely new insights altogether.

Whatever the strategy and tactics are, though, they should be designed to accomplish that one specific goal: increase the number of in-person sales presentations.  

But this is not to say that each business has only one goal—of course it has many more. Demand generation and lead generation tactics will still need to be employed as part of the overarching marketing strategy.  

However, smart marketing practitioners know that aligning a strategy with a leading indicator and then backing into a tactic is a useful and innovative way to increase effectiveness and help an organization realize its economic goals in a real and measurable way.

Start with the goal, find the leading indicator, and then work backwards to the tactic.

Even if you don’t hit the goal, you’re strategy will be much more focused and effective—and the results will show.

Never miss an insight. We’ll email you when new articles are published.