7 steps to evaluating the good, the bad and the ugly of every marketing campaign

We’ve all got into the habit of measuring everything and relying on the metrics to tell the story. But often they hide the real facts.  We don’t take measurement to the next stage; that all-important marketing evaluation. The metrics tell us whether a project or a campaign was a success or not. Evaluation tells us why, so that we can learn for next time.

Imagine you’ve looked at your sales figures and noted huge growth. Last year’s sales from 1st June to 1st September were £100k, and this year’s sales totalled £175k. You have exceeded budget and hit all your KPI’s. Great news.

In this situation it is all too easy to think we have done a great job, pat ourselves on the back and capture the learnings of all the things that we have done well. But this may be hiding the facts of a different story – factors outside of our control that came into play, the seemingly small details that could shine a light on future activity or other ‘hidden’ achievements not directly related to the initial goal.

7 key questions

  1. What were our objectives?
  2. What did we actually achieve?
  3. How did we get lucky?
  4. Where were we unlucky?
  5. Where do we think we nailed it?
  6. What didn’t we do so well?
  7. What should we do next time?

Only by thinking through each question and capturing the answers are you going to get the full picture.

Start with reminding yourself of your objectives. Now assess what you actually achieved. This is your opportunity to capture all your wins whether or not they were the ones that you originally anticipated. You may not have achieved the direct sales that you targeted, but don’t miss the fact that the new chain of distribution you opened will give greater benefit to the business in the long term. Maybe it was your cross-functional teamwork that suddenly took a shift in the right direction? Whatever it was, these wins should be captured and recorded for future learning.

Next, recognise where ‘lady luck’ had a hand (was it the hottest day on record when you launched your exciting new ice cream brand). Note where you were less fortunate (one of your competitors launched a multi million pound promotional campaign on the same day as your product launch). These things may not be directly controllable, but will give valuable insight for your future activity. It is rarely the case that we can anticipate all eventualities, so these factors can teach us a lot.

It is only once we have recognised the role that the hand of fate has played that you should turn to the more obvious questions like: What did we really nail? What didn’t we do so well? By asking these questions, you should now be in a much better position to answer them questions holistically, and with clarity. Remember to celebrate and communicate both the wins and losses. Giving a fair and unbiased appraisal will help foster trust and understanding. There are rarely ‘all or nothing’ outcomes.

Measurement tells us what happened in the past; evaluation informs the future

You should now have a clear frame of reference for the next and final question: what should we do next time? Make the mistake of jumping to this first and you are in all likelihood going to miss some of the most important factors in your learning.

These seven questions are the key to capturing the good, the bad and the ugly of every campaign. Their answers give true evaluation and make sure that important details aren’t missed. By including your team you can help to foster a culture of learning and evaluation, keeping you moving along the road of continuous improvement.

Measurement tells us what happened in the past; evaluation informs the future.

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