Even on the Ground, a Good Elevator Pitch Can Lift a Client's Attention to What Counts

A Few Key Questions and They'll See Why They Must Have Precise Measuring

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I stepped into an elevator in downtown Manhattan recently and ran into a client who just two weeks before had received a simple, six-page PowerPoint from our agency spelling out how much his brand would lose by not effectively measuring online media. For months, we'd been telling him that he was wasting 54% of his online ad dollars -- at minimum. But he had taken no action.

For the longest time I couldn't understand why; the value was obvious to me. But there in the elevator, the answer became clear. I recalled advice that someone had given me years ago: "People don't deposit percentages into the bank, they deposit dollars." Our proposal expressed all its value in terms of percentages.

I blurted: "Did you get the $1.6 million deck I sent you?"

The client looked surprised. With a single brash question, I got to put a price tag on my value proposition. Most companies don't quantify a lack of measurement. They're just thankful when they can finally see the results of what they're spending. My question cut right to that point.

Late that afternoon we got the brand's attribution analytics business. My elevator pitch had grabbed the client's interest and focused his attention.

As brands and agencies work together on 2012 planning, it occurs to me that an elevator-pitch test would help focus the client. It would take the form of two questions.

How do you know which campaigns worked for you this year?

Without digital-media measurement, there's no way a marketer can answer this question with any confidence. Chances are the client is counting last clicks (the ad clicked just before checkout) to define success of online media. But this fails to account for all the marketing that led to the purchase decision -- and this has costs. Instead of saying in response to our question: "Our display campaign was the most successful at bringing in customers and increased ROI by 243%; our search campaign assisted in 42% of conversions," a brand using last-click measurement would have to say: "We don't know."

Are you re-allocating budgets for 2012?

Without digital marketing measurement and attribution modeling, a client would have to answer, "We're thinking about…" Press the elevator alarm. Not acceptable. Attribution strategies shine a bright light on the details of how a customer entered the purchase funnel, moved through it and decided to act. Accurate evaluation and measurement lead to accurate planning. But accuracy is impossible without attribution data.

These are two important questions. The elevator pitches for "what worked" and "here's what we're changing" make for a great exercise. I challenge any agency or brand to try it.

As for my elevator pitch? We still have that client. But I was wrong on the numbers -- the value proposition I mentioned in the elevator wasn't worth $1.6 million to him. It was worth $5.2 million.

Mark Hughes is CEO of C3 Metrics.
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