In God We Trust, All Others Must Bring Data.
W. Edwards Deming
“How nice it must be to have such a creative job,” people say when I tell them I’m a marketing consultant.
I always have to smile to myself.
For every creative task, there are about five tasks that involve crunching, analyzing, generating, percolating or figuring out how to capture data.
Data makes the difference between a powerful, reliable marketing system and “random acts of marketing.”
Many (otherwise sophisticated and intelligent) companies throw time and money into one marketing attempt after another. They may buy an ad in an aviation magazine one month, participate in a trade show the next, and begin a Facebook campaign the following month, without relating these disjointed tasks to one another, or even relating them to a goal or objectives any more defined than “we need to make more sales.”
A complete and powerful system integrates each marketing and sales task into a complete system where each part complements the others.
Each component of this marketing system can be measured.
Using that data, you know whether to invest more, the same, or less (or skip altogether) any of these related steps next time. When you have a solid, working system and you only change one thing at a time, you know exactly how much difference it makes when you switch out one component at a time.
Even if, like many businesses, things are moving too quickly to be scientific and disciplined, keeping excellent records will give you early warning if something makes a big difference, either positive or negative. When that happens, you can easily test your hypothesis and isolate the factor that made the difference. And capitalize on what works, and minimize what goes badly.
Even if you don’t change anything, the markets are changing around you. Keeping track of your marketing data lets you know when something changes – maybe you have a competitor you didn’t know about, or a seasonal spike in demand that you weren’t aware of. Data tells you where to spend your time and resources- both of which we could all use more of!
Here are numbers that are ideal to be tracking
- Length of your “sales cycle.” (How much time elapses between your first contact with a prospective client and when that prospective client makes a purchase?)
- Expenditure and return on each of your marketing channel.
How much are you spending, divided by the number of dollars generated by sales attributed to that item?
- Cost to acquire each customer (Similar to #2, but by customer rather than by dollar.)
- Number of leads (you might call them contacts or prospects) in each next step in your marketing and sales processes
- Close rate (What percentage of contacts at each stage eventually make a purchase?)
There is always a surprise or two lurking in the data. Even clients that are VERY sure that they know their market very well, and “know what works and what doesn’t” find out that their staid, conservative prospective clients are using Facebook in huge numbers, or that they respond better to an inexpensive postcard than a beautifully printed catalog.
Some of these numbers take awhile to get a handle on, depending on the length of your sales cycle. In many aviation-related businesses, the sales cycle may be months.
Tracking them isn’t difficult, it’s simply a matter of keeping scrupulous records over time. Whether you keep you records in a spreadsheet or in CRM software (customer relationship management software like InfusionSoft or SalesForce) your data is a gold mine for improving your sales results over time.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)