Measuring Marketing's Performance and The Importance of Buyer Face Time

In a recent CMO Magazine survey, marketing executives were asked to identify the top five methods for measuring performance. The list included:
  1. Customer Satisfaction
  2. Qualified Leads
  3. Market Share
  4. Customer Churn
  5. Revenue Impact of all Marketing Programs
When asked how much time they spend with customers, nearly half of the respondents reported spending six or fewer hours per month with the folks who buy their products or services. Only 17 percent said they spend more than 20 hours a month with customers.

The CMO Magazine commentary was critical of the time marketing executives spend with customers: "if attracting and retaining customers truly is a priority, CMOs may want to get in front of their customers more frequently." But what surprised us was how spending time with prospects was not even surveyed. We believe spending time with prospects is equally if not more important as spending time with customers. Talking with your target buyers can give you a wealth of information that can help you develop better products and more effective marketing campaigns.

And one of the best places to talk with buyers is trade shows where the buyers are more qualified (they have a budget or they wouldn't be there) and relaxed (fewer distractions). Here are a few tips as you seek out HR buyers to talk with (notice how we said "with" and not "to" - these aren't sales discussions and in fact, you will not even discuss what you do or sell):

What Not to Do:
  1. Where a badge that says you are a vendor. Lose your badge and blend in. You will not learn nearly as much if someone knows you are a "vendor".
  2. Don't sell. Don't even mention your product. In fact, do everything possible not to divulge you are a vendor.
Where to Talk with HR Buyers:
  1. Attend sessions and listen to your customer's challenges and needs.
  2. Attend networking events and do the same.
  3. On the exhibit floor during lunch, sit with HR people.
Ten Questions to Ask:
  1. Why are they (HR folk) at the trade show?
  2. How many and what other events do they attend?
  3. Is their budget for attending events decreasing?
  4. Do they participate in webcasts. Which ones?
  5. How do they learn (and evaluate) about new products and services?
  6. What trade magazines do they read?
  7. What HR websites do they frequent?
  8. How are HR services (or whatever you sell) purchased at their company?
  9. What products/services are in their budget for this year?
  10. Which vendors were they impressed with at the trade show and why?
What an opportunity! Every single question listed above ties directly to a marketing plan. If you can walk away from the event having a solid grasp of how your buyers would answer these questions, you have a wealth of data.

So the next time you attend an event, don't waste time at your booth (let sales handle that), hanging out with co-workers, sitting in meetings or watching sporting events at the bar. Spend time with your buyers – incognito.