ABC’s of Communication Strategy: E is for Everything is going so well

by Kirk Westwood

Is “Everything going well”?  It’s sometimes hard to tell.  Sales are up, means all is well….. right?

Well, no.

E is actually for Evaluation.

First, we have to ask some important questions. The first question is coincidentally, what is the question?  What are you measuring?  What is the question you want to ask?  If the question “what is my bank balance” then yes, revenue seems like the answer, but even then other factors and indicators can point to trends and early warning signals.  At the end of the day, if we aren’t evaluating what we are doing and making sure we are parsing out all the individual things we want to evaluate, all the data in the world won’t help.  Its just data.  It isn’t a picture.  Its just a scatter plot of points.

But let’s start with the most important question:  What is the actual question?

Sure my revenue is up, but:

What is my customer satisfaction rating?

What is my return customer rate?

What is my average reach and engagement on social media?

What is the average conversation rate of my many advertisement channels?

Did my last advertising campaign enhance my brand portion beyond revenue?

What is my overall marketshare?

Are there any threats in the marketplace I am not considering?

Are there any opportunities in the marketplace I am not considering?

Do I have a weakness in my organization be it logistical or managerial that could prove a problem down the road?

See, these are all questions cannot be answered by revenue.  However, as we talked about last week in “D is for Data” all the information you need to answer everyone one of these questions is readily at your fingertips… if you know not just how to ask the question, but most importantly what question you want to ask.

We work with a lot of small businesses and a common trap we see, is business owners conflating financial equity/profits with brand equity/reputation.  While you consider, let me give you a few examples:  Comcast, Trump, United, Monsanto, Uber, Wells Fargo, Spirt Airlines, Fox Entertainment, and The University of Phoenix. Whether you were aware of each of their individual trials in the court of public opinion there are few things to recognize about all of them.

First, each is remarkably successful when it comes to their revenue.  Each is doing just fine as far as their stock holders are concerned, and each despite having dips in their evaluation from time to time bounce back as their position in the marketplace seems solid enough to keep the money rolling in.  Financial equity is only one question.

Second, each is failing in a ‘brand equity’ stand point.  In some examples (Comcast / Monsanto) The parent organization obfuscates who they are to avoid association, with themselves. Xfinity and BioAg are both brands that allow their parent to work in a realm where people are untrusting of their motives.

Third, each of these companies found their footing and fortunes in an era without instant customer feedback and the voice of the consumer being audible around the world.  These companies gained their traction before “the little guy mattered.”

Fact of the matter is, moving forward it is going to get harder and harder for an organization to get any kind of footing without the voice of the people being behind them.  An angry tweet can circle the world before a satisfied customer can get its pants on…. Is that how the saying goes?

If we are evaluating how a product is doing, it is important to compare it to like factors.  We had a client insist a particular product which was only available in half of their locations, was under performing because it sold 30% less than products available at all locations.  If you take a closer look, it unambiguously implies the “underperforming” item was actually CRUSHING IT, and opposed to divesting, doubling down was the appropriate response.

Key Performance Indicators and Secondary Metrics are essential.  We have to know the question, then we have to know how we are going to get the answer.  We can’t begin to know if “everything is going well” till we know we all agree with what “everything” is.  We have to know we are all using the same measuring stick and we are all measuring the same thing.

Knowing the right question and how you intend to answer it is the baseline of “evaluation”. It is the purpose of data we discussed last week, and at the end of the day its the difference between the companies who fall from relevance (Sears, Toys R Us, Blockbuster) and those we never saw coming (Amazon, Facebook, Netflix)

Kirk Westwood

Kirk Westwood

Creative Director

Check out what else is new with Glass River Media!