Posts Tagged ‘benchmarks’

Observations and thoughts in relation to setting targets or benchmarks

August 30, 2019

I have been working on a few projects lately where clients have asked us to help them set or define performance benchmarks or targets for them. These have been in a variety of areas, such as the impact of communication, the success of product launches and the engagement of content. Some clients want to ‘track these over time’, others want to establish short term targets, and the work has stimulated interesting conversation (and at times conflict). So, I thought I would capture some of my thoughts around this topic here. I should point out these are just my thoughts and are intended to stimulate debate and are not a ‘set way of doing things’.

The reason setting targets or benchmarks is useful is because they enable you to make important judgments in as objective a manner as possible. For example, the effectiveness of communications. They also encourage brand owners and their partners to have intelligent debate about how and by how much they expect things to work. For example, say the impact of new packaging or advertising. In addition, they ensure you they have the right research approach in place to measure these expectations.

A key observation is that different parties involved often have different expectations of what the ‘targets’ or ‘benchmarks’ ought to be, depending on different criteria. This could be related to their experience in having set and measured targets previously, the potential ‘risk’ to the targets being set and for some their potential gain (a bonus) or loss (their job or the account). So, taking the time upfront to understand the different parties’ motivations and barriers to setting targets or benchmarks is very important.

Next up when thinking about your benchmarks, make sure they are all relative to something. This might sound obvious, but trust me, I have worked with some clients who have come to us with existing targets, but they cannot explain why specific ones may have been set or what they were linked to. Here are some obvious aspects to consider when setting targets or benchmarks:

Set them in relation to your brand and your objectives:

  • Previous results for your brand
  • What your ‘start point’ is
  • What you have set out to achieve
  • How much investment you will be utilising

Set them in relation to other brands / competitors:

  • Brands / competitors in comparable situations
  • Competitors’ performance
  • Research you have available on other brands / competitors

My final tip, one that I am sure some of you will not agree with, is to avoid norms. Why, well, I believe norms set the wrong ‘expectations’. For example, they can encourage the belief that exceeding the norm = success in the market, which time and again we can see is not the case. In addition, they can create targets or benchmarks that are by definition average, and this encourages us to aspire to the mediocre!