In Part 1 of my column yesterday, I explained the Cannon Ball strategy using two clients as examples.
Now, let me share some things that you should keep in mind while throwing bullets as well as the Cannon Ball.
Apple-to-apple comparison: If you really want to measure an effective bullet, it is critical that you use a measurement that you have been using for years. For example, if you measure your advertising in terms of footfalls/sales in your store, don’t compare that with e-commerce sales on your website through digital. It would be better to use digital also to increase your footfalls/sales and compare that with your historic data.
Zero budgeting in order to throw the cannon ball: I have partners who allocated a US$ 50,000 budget out of their gazillion-dollar budget. After digital delivers them exceptional value, they happily tell me that they have doubled the budget. I ask them – digital delivered you five times more value than what you had ever received from other mediums, doubling the budgets now means that you are going to make digital from 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent of your budget. How will that move the needle for you? Unless you increase the budget 50-fold, it would not even reach 10 percent of your total budgets. I recommend that every medium including digital must be evaluated fresh every year. If mobile delivers better value, your budgets must shift from Internet to mobile. In a similar manner, if YouTube delivers better value, then TV must be reduced. The key take away is throw the Cannon Ball!
Involve lateral departments in evaluating the pilot: Sometimes, I feel that the person close to the medium becomes biased. So, even when a bullet hits the mark, she finds justification for what she has always done. For example, until a few years back I sincerely believed that search worked better than display. Many times I would ignore data where display had delivered better results by stating that search must not have been managed well. Imagine if the CFO or the promoter of the lifestyle brand were there in the room when I had presented the results of the pilot. I am sure that she would have said, “Let’s try the coupon-based print offer Vivek is recommending.”
Don’t stop firing bullets: Even after you have thrown the Cannon Ball and got amazing results, continue firing the bullets, as what you did on digital three years back will not work today. Before throwing each Cannon Ball, re-calibrating bullets is a critical step.
Don’t change the elements of the bullets before you fire the cannon ball: I come across many partners who think once they have the strategy right (bullet), they can easily implement it themselves. This probably works in other physical endeavors but the digital environment changes every hour and a better strategy would be to let the partner walk with you. Although she also may not know the exact road that needs to be taken, at least she has walked to that summit hundreds of times; each cloud formation, bird call, state of the snow communicates with her and this experience allows her to mentor you as to what you should do, and more importantly what you should not do.
Don’t ignore internal forces during the transition to digital: I have come across partners who have a response time of four days before the customer is contacted. That response time would not work on digital, so when one is evaluating a pilot, it is important to understand the internal limitations and adapt them to digital. Example: have two people dedicated to a team allocated to evaluate the pilot, where the digital enquiries are responded to immediately. This would allow you to accurately estimate whether the idea can work in your vertical.
Digital has moved way beyond customer acquisition. It can help in building your brand, in information dissemination, in building a community of your prospects/customers, in understanding consumer trends, in helping you acquire talent, and a whole lot more. It is critical that large enterprises understand this multifaceted ability of digital and start firing bullets in various business endeavors. Of course, thereafter you must have the balls to throw the Cannon!
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