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Measurement.  How do we measure the effectiveness of our marketing, procedures, advertising, programs, products, services, social media, training, or any other element of our organization?

One measure, of course, is whether we can get a substantial number of customers, clients, and target audiences to use our organization.  A popular measure is sales and the volume of revenues and profits over a period of time. But one of the most important measures is the customer service we provide and the service we provide to our employees and contractors.

A classical measurement tool is the experiment with a control group and an experimental group.  For example, a drug has to be tested for safety and efficacy.

From a random sample of the study population — maybe people who have diabetes, and half are assigned either to the control group (who will get a placebo — maybe a sugar pill) and the other half are assigned to the experimental group (who will get the drug).   The health of all people (subjects) is tested before and after getting the drug or sugar pill.  If there is no difference between the groups, then the drug has no measurable effect on the health of all subjects.

We can do the same kind of experiment to test the effectiveness of an advertisement to be place online or in a magazine.   Let’s say that our audience is people who have been on a specific cruise ship this year and are planning on going on that same cruise ship next year.  But they haven’t yet made their reservation.     

We select a random sample of customers of this cruise ship.  And we have all these people complete a questionnaire on what they like about their favored cruise ship and what it would take to get them to use your cruise ship next year.  Half will be randomly assigned to the control group and the other half will be the experimental group.

You are a competing cruise ship and want to see how effective your ad (in pictures and words) is in getting these people to switch to your cruise ship just by seeing an ad for your cruise ship.  Your ad will be seen by the experimental group.  You show the control group a generic ad for cruise ship travel, not for a specific cruise ship.  This is the control group.

Have both groups discuss the ads they are seeing.  Then ask each group what cruise ship they expect to book for next year — and why.   What would you have to offer to make the experimental group to reserve for your ship?

There are a lot of different methods used in market research, including surveys, analysis of existing data, and observation.  But what is best?

That depends on the questions we’re trying to answer.  What do you think?  What’s the best way to understand what consumers and employees want?


Photo: Voyager of the Seas at Port of Kobe in March 2013. Creative Commons

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