Number 3: Never Confuse Effort with Results

The Top 10 Things I’ve Learned About Restaurant Marketing

NUMBER THREE: Never confuse effort with results.

It’s easy to feel really good in the midst of rolling out a new marketing program. There is a lot of energy around a big Local Store Marketing (LSM) push, in-store promotion, digital campaign or special event. Many of these activities are very time intensive and people become invested in the activity itself. But I think it’s important to stop every now and then and measure results.

* I know there are those who fall back on the old marketing cliché, “Half of all advertising is wasted; we just don’t know which half.” But, as marketers, I don’t think we can use that as an excuse to avoid trying to quantify the impact of what we do. If we don’t quantify the impact of our programs, we allow the accountants to assume the programs have no value. I strongly believe that making an ROI case for new, unmeasured methods will ultimately work in favor of better decisions, and better decisions make for better programs, and better programs will lead to more credibility. Without it we leave the impression that it’s all a roll of the dice…a matter of luck, not science–just window dressing. And when the going gets tough, the “window dressing” is the first thing to go.

* Another aspect of this is what I call “tactics in search of a strategy.” There are always plenty of great creative marketing ideas out there…people love to brainstorm them. Unfortunately, those ideas are not always targeted on goals nor are they aligned with strategies. Creating successful marketing programs requires quantifiable goals, strategies designed specifically to achieve those goals and then hashing out the tactics, or at the very least “bending” the tactics to stay on strategy and accomplish your goals. I always ask, “What’s the goal?” and “How does this get us there?”

* It’s a discipline. Even though marketing might (and should) go off plan to test new tactics…at some point, marketers need to find a way to make a case for the return on marketing investment (ROI). That doesn’t mean that we have perfect information. We may need to make some assumptions, establish a baseline and measure progress relative to the baseline or make projections and measure results relative to expectations. But we do need to measure. If we don’t measure, we waste money and effort. Not just the waste from the cost, but also the “opportunity cost”-the value of what you could be doing if you weren’t so busy doing what you are.

* I believe that marketing is an investment in the brand, and evaluating effectiveness of the investment is the key. It gets you back on track and out of the 50% ZONE–away from that 50% that isn’t working.

This is especially true when your competition is outspending you two to one. Do the math…if they are investing in ineffectual programs and you aren’t, you at least have a fighting chance.

Until next time, let me know your thoughts.