Any marketing done well is smart marketing, right? Wrong! Even a great-looking campaign can fail. Here’s a simple method you can use to quickly determine the efficacy of your marketing program.

You may have heard of SMART objectives before. The experts who design corporate objective-setting criteria use SMART, an easy-to-remember acronym for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Results-oriented, and Time-bound. If all of those criteria are part of a person’s performance objectives, they’re in good shape.

With a little modification, the same acronym can be used to test the effectiveness of your marketing programs. In this case it stands for Strategic, Mindshare-grabbing, Action-oriented, Results-focused and Tuned.

S – Strategic

Before we start spreading the word about our product or service key strategic analysis needs to occur. That may sound tedious but without it we won’t be clear on what to say.

Get to know your customers and your competition well. This will help you determine how to position your product or service. Your goal should be to secure the top spot in a prospect’s mind when it comes to your type of product offering. (Next month I’ll be discussing ways to make this happen.)

You’ll need to know the who, what, where, when (or how often) of your marketing program. Who, specifically, are you targeting with your marketing? Your approach to them will be largely driven by what they read, where they shop, and what they buy.

What will you be positioning in your program? What benefits does it provide? What makes it uniquely better than your competitors’?

Where will you be advertising? This is driven by knowledge of your customers’ viewing and listening habits. You also need to consider frequency of communications. Frequency breeds familiarity with you, your brand, and your product. Familiarity, in turn, helps to breed confidence.

M – Mindshare – grabbing

Now let’s focus on how the program should be structured. Don’t lose sight of whose opinion really matters – your customer’s. Continue to ask yourself, “What’s in it for my customer?” Why should they buy from me? Translate your product’s features into benefits for the customer. Remember that people buy based on emotion and then justify their purchase based on the rational reasons you give them. So highlight the emotional or psychological benefits of your product or service. And, add in the rational benefits for added support.

A – Action – oriented

Every marketing piece should include a call to action for your customer. Don’t leave it to chance. Tell them what they should do – drop by your store, call you, or check your website. Just get them involved and engaged with you.

R – Results – focused

I had a boss who taught me to never confuse activity with results. Measurable results for your marketing program could include:

  • Increased awareness for your product/service/company
  • Increased traffic to your retail site or website
  • Sales growth
  • Growth in your leads/contacts database (Hint: We should constantly strive to capture names and preferences for customers and potential customers. This should be one of the goals of your website.)

This is just a handful of many. What results are you looking to achieve?

T – Tuned

To intelligently fine-tune your program and optimize your marketing expenditures, you’ve got to know what’s working and what’s not. And for that, you need to measure your results from different marketing vehicles and compare. This is the step that most people hate. But this is where the really smart businessperson outperforms their competition.

First, set up your program to measure the amount of revenue that comes from each marketing source. If you’re doing comparisons of ads in various publications, for example, you can include a separate, coded offer, in each. Then remember to consistently ask your customers how they found you and keep track.

Next, you need to compare your results from various methods to determine which are best. Subtract your costs (include design, production and placement costs) for each medium from the revenue you tracked from that source. Do this for each medium in your campaign. You then know your lowest performing media, which become targets to drop. (Granted, some media are used strictly for awareness-building and don’t intrinsically generate revenue. Exercise judgment here.)

With so many options today for marketing your products and services, it’s more important than ever to systematically check the effectiveness of your program. The SMART marketing method is a tool you can use to quickly decide what’s working (and not working) for you.