If I had only done the math first…

How much work would we all save if we took the time to run the numbers first?

You marketers out there know what I am talking about.  You would have avoided the breakfast seminar that generated a bunch of $1,000 leads or that banner campaign that never got any clicks.  And who likes sheepishly admitting failure to their boss who then replies “I coulda told you it wouldn’t work”?

Rather than beating yourself up about past failures (since there is really nothing you can do about it now), how about a New Year’s resolution to do a “back-of-the-envelope” calculation with some honest assumptions for every new program.  The process takes minutes and can save hours of work.

Here are some things I consider when when sanity testing a program:

  • How much is this really going to cost?
  • Is there a way to test this program or media cheaply in case it is a miserable failure?
  • What kind of response rate do I need to breakeven on the program?
  • How does that compare with my historical response rates?
  • Do my revenue assumption make sense?
  • How long do I need to run this before I will know if it works or not?
  • How much support will I get from the team for this program (ie lead follow-up from sales)?

I also suggest you don’t do this in a vacuum.  Find the most skeptical or analytic person in your office to test your assumptions.  This person will often poke at you after the program so why not expose yourself at the least expensive part of the process?  The questions will surprise you and in the end you may kill a few programs before spending a dime, allowing you to avoid embarrassment and focus more resources on your winners.  You will also look more accountable which is valuable to a marketer in the long run.

Author: Frank Days

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