Any discussion about goal-setting needs to start with understanding where you currently stand. In the words of James Baldwin, the 20th century writer, “If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” These words of wisdom remind us that to reach a goal, we need to know where we’re starting from. Equally important in reaching a goal is to have a means of measuring your progress along the way.
When it comes to achieving business objectives and brand development goals, carefully selected marketing research metrics can serve as useful guideposts for monitoring a company’s progress toward improving overall performance. Monitoring the right metrics and setting meaningful goals helps companies:
- Identify current performance levels in key areas
- Gauge progress on achieving business objectives and fulfilling the corporate mission
- Focus business units on driving growth in key areas
- Drive accountability across the organization
Here is an overview of The DRG’s approach to setting meaningful, measurable goals that can be tracked over time through marketing research.
Align Your KPIs with Your Business Strategy
The first step is to clearly define your company’s core growth strategy and then identify one or two north-star metrics, or key performance indicators (KPIs), that most closely align with that strategy. In order to be actionable, your KPIs need to be tied to specific aspects of the business that will drive overall growth. For instance, building brand awareness may be central to one company, while driving new product sales could be a priority for another.
Once your company hones in on the most important growth opportunities, conducting a review of existing research and marketplace intelligence sets the context for understanding where the company stands today. Sources of information might include one or more of the following:
- Historical tracking data on key brand or experience measures (awareness, perceptions, customer satisfaction, etc.)
- Secondary research on industry trends and economic forecasts
- Competitive intelligence on key players in the category
Identify Specific Marketing Research Metrics
Next, identify specific marketing research metrics to monitor progress against your core KPIs. This may be as straightforward as assessing whether any of the metrics currently being tracked need to be adjusted. It may also involve developing new benchmark metrics to capture the data moving forward.
Once your metrics are selected, it’s time to set aspirational, yet achievable, goals. Here’s a list of key questions to ask yourself when setting KPI goals:
1. Taking into consideration existing business activities and/or category seasonality, how frequently should performance on KPIs be measured? Are significant shifts in KPI performance likely to take place from month-to-month, on a quarterly basis, or over the course of a year?
2. What is the right size base for your survey, in order to evaluate statistically significant movement on KPI measures?
3. What budget is required for the scope and frequency of your KPI measurement research?
4. What is a reasonable KPI goal to set, keeping in mind the impact of business activities, the scope of the survey, and the frequency of data collection? For example:
- What % increase in brand awareness is reasonable to expect based on current marketing activities and spending levels?
- What shift in customer satisfaction is realistically achievable given current programs in place (customer service, product improvements, etc.
5. Will success in achieving KPI goals be incorporated into internal performance evaluations? For example:
- Will business units be required to demonstrate ROI on key initiatives?
- Will individual employees be offered incentives for achieving measureable performance goals?
Create a Compelling Reporting and Communication Strategy
After your improvement goals have been set and you’ve developed a method for monitoring progress, the last, but perhaps most important step is to create an internal communication strategy using effective and impactful reporting tools. In order to drive accountability at the business unit and individual levels, employees need to be included in ongoing communication. Elements of a comprehensive communication plan include:
- Communicating key metric performance to all business units on a consistent basis through meetings, internal newsletters, and other engaging communication pieces
- Delivering reports and presentations to key stakeholders, showcasing the supporting metrics to clearly explain the reasons for performance outcomes
- Sharing KPI goals, the rationale for how those goals were set, and the schedule for monitoring progress
- Action planning with business units to facilitate understanding of current performance, key drivers, and promote initiatives to reach goals
Incorporating marketing research metrics into your business strategy gives you a reliable yardstick to gauge where you currently stand. It also provides you with the ability to measure your progress toward achieving company goals, drive internal accountability, and reward success along the way.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on how you approach goal setting for your business.