How Performance Should Inform Your TV Campaign

When it comes to marketing, go with what works. 

That statement certainly isn’t revolutionary. If your marketing campaign is performing well, by all means, continue. If it's performing poorly, reassess. Perhaps your messaging needs a revamp. Or maybe it’s even time to invest those marketing dollars elsewhere.  

If it’s all so straightforward, why do businesses struggle with this rule? As the CEO of an advertising agency, I’ve heard far too many horror stories from brands that spent millions on long-lasting, elaborate campaigns only to drive lackluster results. 

In my experience, this problem often stems from failing to establish clear objectives before launching a campaign. After all, you can’t determine performance if you have no measure for what success means in this particular situation. And if you’re trying to define success after the campaign’s run its course, you’ll likely find yourself disappointed. 

Knowing how to determine performance is especially important when it comes to marketing channels like TV, where there’s a large upfront investment. When you’re spending considerable time, resources and money, you want to know whether your campaign worked. 

Most companies take one of two approaches to measure TV advertisement success.

 

Brand or performance?  

A brand-focused approach relies on metrics like awareness, brand recall or purchase intent to prove a campaign’s impact on the brand. These metrics change slowly over time, and the business results may not be felt until years down the road. It’s a long-term investment. Think of ads from companies like Nike, Coca-Cola or just about every car brand. These ads are concerned with how they make you feel about the company. The brands are betting on that emotion to drive you to purchase in the future. 

Performance campaigns look to drive sales now. They include a call-to-action for the consumer. Think of commercials asking viewers to call a 1-800 number or text a code to the number on the screen. They’re looking for revenue lift in the short term. Success is measured by changes in calls, web traffic, sales or new customers. 

For most small- to medium-sized businesses, the ideal approach probably lies somewhere in the middle. Not every business can wait years to reap the benefits of its campaign. But a performance-focused campaign doesn’t mean you forget about the brand-building side of marketing. A call-to-action can be as subtle as listing your website URL at the end of an ad.

For many, establishing both brand and performance metrics as indicators of success is the ideal win-win situation. Because once you’re able to measure performance both immediately and over time, you always know how your marketing efforts are doing. And ideally, you’re always working to improve them. 

 

Optimize, optimize, optimize.

Let’s say your campaign — based on both brand and performance metrics — isn't doing particularly well in either area. Before you dump a campaign you likely spent months developing, ask yourself a question. What if it’s not the channel or the overall messaging that’s damaging results? What if it’s the offer? The conversion method? The time of day during which your campaign is airing? It’d be a shame to give up too quickly when success could be only a small adjustment away. 

Here’s the good news: Once you’re able to measure performance, you’re able to manipulate it. Including a performance aspect in your approach to deciding success means you’re able to track results now, making your campaign more flexible overall. Test different networks. Change your offer from 10% off to $20 off the first purchase for any new customers. The goal is to discover how to make your campaign as successful as possible with the smallest changes. Fortunately, small changes can have massive results. Only when it's clear these adjustments aren’t going to help should you cut your losses. 

The best news? Even when your campaign is doing well, you can still test variations for better results. Optimize each aspect of your campaign to perform at peak efficiency and effectiveness. Yes, this may take a little time, data analysis and creativity, but it could mean the difference between meeting your campaign objectives and an unfortunate failure.  

 

This article was first published on Forbes. Read it here.