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New White Paper – Improving Marketing Decisions

A recent presentation at a marketing seminar led me to write a paper on some of the pitfalls of decision making in uncertain times and what marketers can do to avoid them.

The following is an excerpt from the Executive Summary of the White Paper, titled Improving Marketing Decisions:

Marketing decisions such as the development of a new product or campaign, which segments to target, how much should be spent on media, price setting and selecting distribution channels are made without ever really being certain of which alternatives will bring success or failure.   In an increasingly fast-moving world, marketers are required to make decisions where uncertainty dominates and they are under more pressure to succeed with limited budgets, resources and short-timelines.

This paper explores the challenges, shortcomings and risks inherent in making strategic marketing decisions.  It reviews recent research into decision-making and classifies the areas where decisions can go awry as either errors in framing the decision, errors in analysis and errors of judgment.

The paper outlines 10 practical guidelines for marketers when next confronted by a major decision:

Framing Decisions

1.    Accept uncertainty

2.    Be decision-focussed, not data-focussed

3.    Spell out hypotheses and test them

4.    Don’t ignore executional risk

Analysing Alternatives

5.    Measure what you must, not what you can

6.    Seek non-confirming evidence

7.    Decrease feedback cycle times

Exercising Judgement

8.    Engage across your organisation, with your business partners and customers

9.    Conduct a pre-mortem

10.   Keep judgements independent

Through a clear understanding of the decision and what evidence will be required to support it, the task of analysis can be more focussed and efficient.  By also recognising the inherent limitations of human cognition in forming judgement, marketers can take steps to counteract this by involving other stakeholders in the decision.  Increasingly, progressive marketers are including customers and business partners as direct and continuous participants in the decision process.  Judgement can also be enhanced by providing a framework for supports the independence of viewpoints and pre-empts possible barriers to achieving the desired outcome.

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