I was recently discussing with a retail CEO the need, his business has for pre and post awareness research to measure the effect of their new TV campaign.  The campaign had been brought into the communications mix to raise brand awareness, so you would expect that he’d be interested to know how it had performed.

Sadly, this retailer doesn’t have traffic counters and was resisting the idea of post awareness research. Until I started challenging them their sole measurement of success was transaction data – the number of sales, the size of the basket and the revenue generated. The CEO attempted to justify this omission with the oft-heard, but nonetheless misguided  rationale “If we aren’t going to get sales from it there’s no point in advertising”. Of course, sales volume and value are important measures of a retailer’s performance, but without a load of other insights this data alone could be at best a fools paradise and at worst, leading them in an entirely inappropriate direction.

Advertising, other than possibly direct marketing, isn’t intended to deliver sales directly.  What advertising can do however, among other things, is deliver people who are ready to make a purchase.  From that point it’s up to the stores, the product and the sales staff to close the deal.

The process varies, depending on your organisation, market and channel, but generally the first step is to establish awareness, then generate visits to physical stores, websites etc. where the prospect will get a feel for your brand and your offer.  Next comes the request for more information and finally the sale.  This is a chain of events.  A filtering process, at each stage of which a percentage of the original entrants will drop out.  The trick is to maximise the number of those entering the process and minimise the drop-out rate.

In this case the company concerned should check post awareness to compare it with pre-campaign levels. It should count the number of visitors received at each or at the very least a representative sample of stores, before, during and after the campaign. Then its records of the number, content and value of transactions makes sense.

Every chain has a weakest link.  One where a disproportionately high number of people drop out.  When you have identified and fixed that, all you will have done is revealed the next weakest link.  But that’s the name of the game – refining your chain by addressing, one by one, the issues that make it weak. Its a bit like painting the Fourth Bridge, because there is always a weakest link and, in theory at least, you never get there, but you can get as close as you need to the perfect path to purchase.  There’s a little more detail in the explanation of my “Sales Process Optimisation” tool.

Michael Weaver
February 13, 2014

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