At TargetMarket, we subscribe to a myriad of newsletters and blogs to stay on the cutting edge of advertising industry trends, news and technologies – to the point of designating email folders to filter the volume that rivals that of all internal and external communication combined. That said, some serious thought food can be provoked from industry-unrelated content once in a while, lending inspiration and fresh perspectives to our work.
One such vessel of inspiration was delivered by a recent TEDxTalk by G.T. Bynum – the recently elected Mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma who reflects on his plan to replace partisanship with policy. The overarching premise of the talk was to remind us that we are all bound by more similarities than differences. Additionally, a less abstract premise, in particular, drew a lot of parallels to how we approach our new client relationships and strategy here at The Modern Connection.
Measurability and Accountability
Bynum spoke of how he based his election campaigning not off responding to the opponent or appealing to partisan values, but off of results, backed by data points, rooted in topics that unify us as a society. He spoke to the importance of “always bringing it back to those things by which…[people] could measure, in a very transparent way, what we were doing, and hold [us] accountable if [we were] elected.”
Cue the first parallel: where “what we are doing” is strategizing and executing towards the client’s goal, and those “things by which people can measure” are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that guide TMC in our advertising tactics, unearthed through strategic testing. Transparency is a central value of our agency that we believe is essential in cultivating trust with our clients; and when we have trust, accountability comes naturally.
Mayor Bynum then goes into detail of the specific scientific approach he adopted to address any and all issues facing Tulsa; predominantly public safety; following these simple steps outlined by a tool innovated before him by former federal budget director Mitch Daniels:
“Identify the goal that you want to achieve, identify a measurement by which you can track progress toward that goal; identify a way of testing that measurement cheaply and quickly; and then deploy whatever strategies you think would work, test them, reduce funding for the strategies that don’t work, and put your money into those strategies that do.”
This formula seems simple; yet all too often grandiose, ambiguous ideas and projections can get in the way of measurable problem-solving; in politics and digital marketing. Cue the second, main parallel. Just as Mayor Bynum and others follow the above protocol – we at The Modern Connection follow an almost identical version with our approach to advertising consulting and execution.
Our Process: The Goal Determines Our Role
Our process begins with a free consultation. Here we collaboratively identify the client’s primary goal, shaped by exploration of pain points and expressed challenges. That goal becomes the driving force that guides the tactics that frame our strategy, and persist through management.
After that initial meeting, TargetMarket takes a deep internal dive into the brand and the industry atmosphere: we research competition, build-out buyer personas, fulfill a digitally-centric SWOT analysis, and incorporate best practices and deep knowledge of direct response paid social and paid search platforms. Our driving goal dictates our KPIs, or “measurements by which you can track progress toward that goal,” which we utilize to craft our strategy presentation. If the goal is booked appointments or sales, the conversion rate would be the main KPI. If the goal is brand awareness, reach and ad-recall lift. If it’s website traffic: clicks or sessions. If engagement: page likes, followers, post reactions, comments, etc. These metrics can be measured in real-time and will be the evaluators of all testing to follow. And that testing is the core of our expertise.
Once the above is outlined, we then presents the comprehensive strategy document, and we walk our clients through every inch of it. Transparency and trust run through the main vein of our client relationships – just like it fuels an effective elected representative’s term and its constituents. We will not make performance projections based on assumed or arbitrary numbers or constructs; without reliable historical performance data, we could not confidently stand accountable to arbitrary conversion rates. We value that accountability; we value retention of client relationships over the immediate “hook” brought by compelling revenue or ROI promises that are impossible to insure.
After that solid foundation is built and we have agreement, it’s systems go: we “deploy whatever strategies [we] think would work.” Now these strategies are anything but random, to be sure, but are chosen using the influence of big data in all its glory interpreted through testimony and evidence from vendor reports, third party case studies, and personal anecdotal prior campaign experience. We employ the use of different platforms, targeting, ad formats, copy, asset types, bid and budget levels, and other logistical factors according to that main goal. We then formulate an array of promising tests to pinpoint the sweet spots for each client made up of all the aforementioned components. The heart of it all is carefully organized and monitored A/B testing, analyses, reporting and interpretation. The analyses and evaluation through our key performance indicators then mandate where funds stay, or where they are reapportioned.
Paid advertising management is an iterative process, and is influenced by both internal and external factors, just as the economy and wellbeing of our society are; and we recognize and anticipate that. We work with our clients to plan for known influences ahead of time and communicate fluctuations or changes in performance when we see them. Daily budget tracking, platform checks, and KPI monitoring allow us to stay on top of it and deploy shifts in investment appropriately.
The main chord Bynum struck amongst his nods to projection management and the importance of shifting from reactionary campaign approaches to measurable policy, was the notion that all of us (regardless of background, industry, job title, any and all affiliations); can all unite around common unifying topics that overshadow partisanship. And those common threads can be addressed and recognized in countless aspects of life and verticals of society (in business, in politics, in communities, in education), and through different mediums – be them media outlets, newsletters or blog posts, simple face-to-face conversation or commute-worthy TEDXTalks.