“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Sage advice.
I come back to this quote again-and-again to remind myself of what is most important in branding: sales. I’m not interested in the soft, squishy side of marketing. I want to see brand strategies that clearly move the sales needle.
In a mid-market company I consistently look at six measures of brand performance.
1. Reach: Who sees your brand?
Reach is a primary measure of branding, and focuses on how many people your brand engages on a monthly basis.
Big brands typically measure reach through advertising impressions, but that’s not relevant for mid-market firms with small advertising budgets. Instead measure your digital and media reach:
- Unique visitors to your website
- Number of social media shares (retweets, Likes, pins, comments and forwards)
- Number of followers across social media platforms
- Number of email subscribers
- Number of mentions or stories featured in the traditional media
Reach leads to awareness, and awareness drives the top of your sales funnel.
2. Velocity: How quickly do your customers buy?
Sales velocity demonstrates a few aspects of your brand:
- Clarity: Is your messaging clear, and do your customers get you?
- Desire: Do your customers choose you first, or compare you to the other guys?
- Process: Does your website and sales people give your customers everything they need when they need it to make efficient buying decisions?
Tracking sales velocity requires adding time metrics to your CRM system. Consider how long it takes your team to respond to an inquiry, and then the time it takes to move a prospect between each stage in the sales process.
3. Lost Revenue: How often do you discount?
How often do you have to discount, and leave money on the table?
A strong brand is price resistent. Customers understand the value of your services, and choose it first. They expect the service to be fair market value, but they don’t expect it to be the cheapest.
In your CRM or accounting system track your discounts as a clear measure. How much money is discounted per transaction? How much money is lost to discounting per month? If the number is high it can be an indicator of several problems:
- Your price is higher than the competition
- A flawed sales process that requires discounting to close deals
- Your customers don’t get your value proposition and prioritize price over value
Frequent discounting is the canary in the coal mine for brand challenges.
4. Frequency: How often does your market interact with your brand?
How often do your customers come back to interact with your brand?
Frequency is not necessarily a buying metric. Frequency compliments reach, and indicates if your brand is sticky beyond repeat purchases. It demonstrates how often your prospects, customers, centers of influence and market are engaging with your brand.
Look to your digital and social metrics to measure frequency:
- Percentage of returning visitors to your website
- Percentage of opens and clicks on email campaigns
- Repeat exposures in media publications (TV, newspapers or magazines). Being a pundit or a columnist is far better than a media stunt
- Social sharing and the percentage of your followership that are sharing your content
5. Volume: How often does the phone ring?
The ultimate measure of a brand is inquiries. How often do you receive inquiries for your products and services? Is your brand pulling in new customers?
Volume is a simple metric: how many inquiries (leads) do you generate per month?
6. Trends: How are these metrics changing month over month?
Each of the above five metrics on their own will not give enough insight. For example seeing your total reach for one month doesn’t present a lot of value.
The key to improving your brand and your sales performance is to track these metrics over time:
- How are they changing month-to-month and quarter-to-quarter?
- What strategies, actions or market forces influence your metrics?
- How can you get better?
Data is just data until you draw it back into your decision making process. Track the metrics that will help you manage your business and brand.
[Marc Binkley, of the Sleeping Barber Podcast, interviewed me on this post. Marc and I delve into the metrics, and how they apply to mid-market brands. Check out the podcast.]