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Did it work?

Date: Jul 31 2013

When I last posted, I had about three posts on the go. This is one of those posts, all of which got totally derailed by lots of exciting work. So, at last here’s a quick and simple run down of why you should measure and a list of useful metrics to help measure communication results on a budget.

It is always good to know where you are heading. Even if you decide to change direction, at least if you have a strategy, you can adapt your plan to suit your aim.

It’s easy to launch into a public relations project. It’s always exciting to think creatively about all the wonderful and often ‘glossy’ communication tools you can use. It may be digital, it may be physical, bit it will always cost money, time and resource. Without a strategy you could be wasting it all, and without measurement you won’t even know if it made a difference. Strategy and measurement should go hand in hand.

Now, I don’t know any businesses or organisations that can afford to ‘waste’ any of these valuable assets. But so often with communication, we can stick to what we have always done, or we hit upon a great idea we ‘think’ will be the solution to the communication problem.

Without some benchmarking data to show where you are now, and the communication strategy to show where you want to be, how can you ever truly know if you nailed it or not? Experienced comms professionals often follow their instinct and use their wealth of experience and knowledge of what does and doesn’t work to guide them in any given situation. But so often for the business decision makers to understand the real value of what we can achieve, it needs some cold hard facts. And who knows a Chief Executive who doesn’t like to see, in clear facts, what difference an activity has made? Did it work? What do you say when you are asked this question, or one of the senior team says: ‘so what’ to your great communication campaign?

I always like to know that the work I do makes a difference. I want my clients to see the value in my work. I want to get results. I want to help them make their communication better, more successful and aligned to business strategy. In other words, I want to be able to say ‘yes it did work’.

So how do you do it on a budget?

Start by creating an effective communication strategy

There’s always a reason why you need to communicate. Asking ‘why’ is a great start to understand what your aim is, what it is you want your communication to achieve. It’s not just about the tactics. Or more bluntly, can you answer the question ‘so what?’

Add some simple metrics to show if your communication tactics are working

There is a range of methods available to just about every business. It doesn’t need to be complicated, costly or even outsourced. Pick and choose what’s good for you.

I recently took part in a short webinar on measurement and these recommended tools really chimed with me because they are so simple and do not need to cost much more than a little time.

Use your network – reaching out to your network of sales people, colleagues, customers, facebook fans, twitter followers. Ask them what

Measure your success

Measure your success

they think.

Test your messages – ask people if they understand them, and what they feel about them.

Focus groups – with a small group, you can work through a planned tactic and they can help you revise your statements or find a better way to complement your strategy.

Tracking sales / calls in / queries / business KPIs / complaints – there is a host of different measures that businesses are doing anyway. Use them. If you know when your communication tactic is going live you can easily assess the impact it has had in your business tracking.

Different URLs for different tactics – that way you can track which tactic works best for your campaign, and change tactics if you need too.

Pilot – test our communication on a small group or region of your business.

Survey – Running a survey doesn’t need to be complicated, it’s about asking the right questions.

Cost benefit ratios – is a problem costing your business money? How much would the communication to rectify the problem cost? Divide the benefit by the cost, and it will give you a very basic cost benefit.

Return on investment – this speaks for itself. Invest in the communication and see that return through increased sales for example.

CBR and ROI are both a little more complex and can’t show the value of an awareness campaign or how much an audience is engaged with the campaign or organisation, which can be a precursor to action in the right situation. But it can show changes in behaviour if it increases sales or reduces calls in which are both easy to measure.

Of course the simplicity of all of these measures mean that they cannot accommodate the wider context of your communication. So you need to be mindful that external factors can have an effect too. But with some measurement in place and acknowledgement of the wider context you can keep a regular check on your communication and how successful it has or hasn’t been. Flagging if you need to change your tactics or alter your messaging to achieve your strategic objectives.

Go on, add a little measurement to your comms and see just how much difference it makes.

If you’d like to read more on measurement  – have a look at the latest measurement summit for internal communication from CIPR Inside