No excuse for marketing plans not to be evidence-based

October 2017

I’ve recently been helping a client knock a marketing plan into shape, and this following the appointment of their first marketing manager at the beginning of the year.

The draft plan was, on the face of it, fairly impressive: well structured, detailed, and certainly a lot of effort had gone into it. However, it largely lacked one absolutely crucial ingredient: it wasn’t anything like sufficiently evidence-based. For example, no sales figures behind the market segments (just assumptions); no research on best practice to target those market segments; a proposal to change apparently failing websites but with no Google analytics or other data to support it. Fair to say I was not altogether impressed.

I imagine that such a scenario in a large company is now largely history – or at least I would hope that to be the case. My client is an SME, though still with a respectable turnover at some £17m. But regardless of company size, the time really has now come when there’s no excuse for not having an evidence-based marketing plan. And here’s why . . .

In the business age we live in, there is a way to measure and / or assess pretty much everything. So why not use these tools? Some of the best ones are actually free – e.g. Google Analytics and Facebook insights – so to just ignore them and rely on your own subjective judgment is plain madness. It would be like setting off for the airport not knowing what time your flight was.

And if the evidence needed to justify a specific marketing spend isn’t available, then find a way to make it so. This might be quantitative or qualitative consumer research, or perhaps testing a particular marketing tactic using a limited spend but with a range of metrics lined up to assess its effectiveness.

Ultimately, the aim must be to create a marketing plan which delivers maximum value for money – and that can only be put forward with confidence for board approval if it’s evidence-based.

Faith is fine for the religious and those believing in other nonsense such as astrology and homeopathy, but for the rest of us in the real world of commerce then it’s facts and figures that ultimately count.

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