Digital marketers in the room, raise your hands if you’re tired. For every Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube, there’s also a Google plus, Ello and potentially a Twitter. How do you decide what makes the most sense for your audiences, your executives and your brand?

Loren McDonald and I recently presented at B2B Marketing Forum in Boston about this very issue. McDonald is the Email/Marketing Automation Evangelist at Silverpop and when he and I were preparing for our session, “Martinis are Back: What Don Draper Knew Still Applies,” we remarked on how much marketing seems to have changed, but yet hasn’t really.

So when a new technology, platform or channel comes out, do you race to jump on the bandwagon or do you wait?

Has Human Behavior Changed?

The truth is the same principles still apply:

  • Sales is the transfer of trust
  • Sell the sizzle, not the steak
  • It’s how you say it, not what you say

But a lot of “older” forms of marketing are basically the same tactics, just with new technologies to support them. For example:

  • Direct mail to email marketing
  • RFM to scoring
  • Drip programs to nurture programs

So what’s a marketer to do? Should you chase every fad? What if you don’t, and the "it" thing that week turns into the next Facebook? What if you do, and it turns into the next Google plus? Your boss thinks you’re crazy for not reading the tea leaves correctly, your team hates you because you invested in a bomb, and your competitors are laughing their heads off with an awesome automation program. 

How do you avoid this?

Use Data and a Framework to Evaluate New Stuff

McDonald created a great framework for thinking this through.

1. Analyze the opportunity

What is it? A channel — a technology — a process? Does it fill in a gap you had? Or does it just create more work that you don’t have the resources to fulfill? 

Also, who is using it right now?

  • Consultants? Be leery
  • Early adopter? Might be something
  • Competitors and peers? Dip your toes in
  • Management? You missed the boat

2. Understand the risk

Are your competitors doing it? Are your target audiences really there? How much time will it take to implement and what else won’t happen while you’re doing it? Evaluate your culture’s ability to manage risk — will they abandon you midstream or support you to try and make a win happen?

3. Measure ROI

Decide if you can measure the success this new thing may have and what the return on investment might potentially be.

4. Proceed accordingly

Use this nifty scorecard to evaluate:

score card for channels

Here’s how to use the scorecard:

  1. Use a scoring system of 1 to 10. To make it easiest, we used 1, 5 or 10, but you can certainly use all the numbers in the scale.
  2. Answer the questions.
  3. Look at your score. If you’re close to 90, jump in. If you’re far from 90, you may want to think about waiting or monitoring the situation closely.

This is a great framework with which to evaluate any new channel, platform, technology or process. Use data to make your decisions and socialize them throughout your organization so everyone agrees with your stop or go approach.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  d_pham