O.k. Never might be an exaggeration. Nonetheless, it’s true that there are two things clients never want to pay for but they need the most. I’m talking about the foundation for all effective communications, and the feedback you get afterwards.
I’m talking about Research and Measurement.
Without research, there’s no way to know if what you’re communicating will matter. There’s no telling whether or not you have your message right. And there’s no way to see if you’re even talking to the right people! Most importantly, you want to be able to predict the outcome of your communications, the results.
And without measurement, there’s no way of knowing whether or not your efforts made a difference. If you’re only counting outputs (what you put out–i.e. tweets, press releases, Facebook posts, LinkedIn Answers, etc.), then you’re not even coming close to being able to tell if you’ve been effective.
And if you can’t measure effectiveness, you also can’t measure value. In other words, you can’t PROVE your hard work and efforts were worth the money. Sales is a common yard stick, but it’s a blunt instrument.
More important in the age of social media is measuring relationships. Are relationships getting stronger as a result of your activities? How will you know unless you measure them? (Check out this paper for a good primer on measuring relationships.)
Too often, clients don’t want to pay for either research or measurement. Too often, clients focus on the tactical output of a campaign, and not the outcomes.
And to these clients, I say: “STOP WASTING YOUR MONEY.” Seriously. Make room in your budget for research and measurement. You will get far more out of your initiatives if your communications are built around a foundation of research–and if you can tell whether or not they’re effective.