One of the most difficult problems faced by channel marketing program managers is measuring the program and determining if objectives have been achieved. This problem is complicated by the uncertainty surrounding the correct measures to use when making assessments. Is performance best measured through awareness, recall, sales, or some other indicator? Or, should actual performance simply be compared to planned performance? How do criteria like sales, market share, return on investment (ROI), and cost containment affect this evaluation?
Certainly there are serious and unresolved questions regarding what to measure, how to measure, and what the measurements mean. Top management often argues that unless the dollars spent on a promotion generate sales, then they have been wasted. Others argue that too many uncontrolled factors affect sales and market share for promotion to be held accountable for them. Both the effort and the results are difficult to isolate, and assessing the short-term versus the long-term effects remain unresolved.
All of this begs the answer to the question, “Where to begin?” Instead of assessing programs by relating a specific activity to a specific result, managers would be better served by measuring their program’s effectiveness. This can be accomplished with simple measurement techniques that aid in gauging the success of the program.
- Sales – Beyond measuring pre- and post-program sales figures, compare how the fastest-growing accounts are using their funds versus how average- and low-growth accounts are using theirs.
- Usage – Establish two goals against which activities will be measured: one on the desired percentage of available funds to be claimed and the other on the desired amount of spending in accordance with the preferred program strategy.
- Customer Satisfaction – Perform surveys that reveal the competitiveness of your program and benchmark customer satisfaction.
- Compliance – Capture claim information that identifies misuse of trademarks, logos and product illustrations. Extend this to gather data on copy point delivery, branding, share of voice, etc.
- Operational Efficiency – Tracking the accuracy and timeliness of claim payments is important. To evaluate the operational efficiency of your program, include measurements for prior approval and claim turnaround, number of phone calls, and the frequency and number of report requests.
These techniques for measuring a program’s effectiveness only begin to scratch the surface of much more in-depth analysis. Critical to any measurement or evaluation is the ability to track and capture the required data. Only if all activity is funneled through a central payment and tracking source will this type of analysis be possible, creating a fact-based environment that allows management to evaluate results and correlate spending information to ROI.