The ball hitting the net or a try under the posts are pretty unambiguous measures of performance and success. Usually though, the scores are the result of more complex strategy, tactics and hard work.

Similarly, a key requirement in monitoring and measuring a performance review is that it is straightforward and understandable, even though it was preceded by some involved auditing, planning and activity.

Performance reviews are linked to measurement of activity and results, and usually there is a direct link to campaign activity. Such activity must reflect your overall marketing strategy, your operational plan and, especially, your marketing action plan. Only then are you in a position to lay down success/failure criteria and necessary monitoring/measuring to carry out reviews.

It is sensible also to set general performance criteria for annual reviews that reflect prime objectives, such as “ to increase overall volume of business by 35%”.

But overall success comes from the sum of campaign successes. It is essential to break criteria and attendant monitoring/measuring down to a campaign level, as this allows more regular review.

Measuring campaigns needn't be limited to pure sales generation activities. It can equally apply in PR – your main objective could be to increase targeted press mentions by 250 over the year. Keep a press cuttings book for both numeric measure of achievement and information on quality.

Sales activity (especially new sales) is expensive. So it is essential to build sensible, simple means of measurement for a considered view of performance.

Direct mail activities beg response measurements in volume, quality and costs. Be realistic about your costs. You can then work out cost on quantity mailed, response and sales simply by dividing these numbers into your total cost figures. By measuring revenue, you arrive at your revenue to cost figure.

You should know how long you keep clients in any sector, so include “lifetime value” in measurement criteria. When built into performance reviews, it could point to success rather than failure.

Commercial lines marketing activities require impactful mailing, telemarketing and sales force activity. There is quite a bit of activity and cost, so plan and organise carefully, and set:

  • objectives, for example number of new clients per 100 of prospect list
  • budgets, for example copywriting, design, print, telemarketing, sales force
  • timetable, for example initial campaign and follow-up
  • means of measurement, for example a template which reflects objectives and/or allows easy performance analysis.

    Build a template both for totals and to record individual prospects.

    The totals template allows you to assess your performance weekly with more major interim performance reviews every six to eight weeks. Elements required are:

  • total on list – real contacts
  • numbers phoned/mailed – if a telemarketing first route, numbers mailed will be smaller
  • number of hits – recording positive response
  • actual appointments gained – immediate measure
  • numbers quoted – build-up through campaign
  • numbers taken up – also build-up, at slower rate.

    At the end of each year, re-measure. Keep your follow-up diary properly and there'll be a pleasant surprise in the take-up increase per 100 of the original list.

    Monitoring, measuring and performance review aren't rocket science – with all the other things you have to do, it can't afford to be.

    Measure the contribution to your overall performance of each distinct activity or campaign. Using sensible templates, you'll soon pick out the performers and activities you can build future success on. Often relatively small successes combine to meet the overall performance objectives you set in sales, gross/net profit and overall business growth.

    After all, it's the successful completion of a number of moves that sees the ball in the net or the dive over the line, no matter how many competitors' hands are there to stop it.

    For the team, there's almost as much satisfaction in the lead-up as in the ultimate score. They know how much performance review and improvement was necessary to get there.

  • Norman Stangroom is a fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute and a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He is a director of John Shetcliffe Marketing.

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