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Evaluating Your Cause-Related Marketing Campaign--Nonprofits

So the campaign is over (or at a pause) and it’s time to evaluate. How do you do that?

I’ll tackle the question from the perspective of the nonprofit today, the agency on Tuesday and the sponsor next Thursday.

Nonprofits
  • If your nonprofit is like most of your peers you probably put everybody who was even remotely connected to the project in a room and hash it out until everyone’s eyes bleed. However, I won’t suggest that you trim the number of participants. The fact is given the turnover in nonprofits today, the very most junior person involved with the campaign this year could be running it 18 months from now. Moreover a debriefing is a form of training. (But be careful that it’s not training in how not to run a debriefing!)
  • At a minimum the debriefing should lead to a discussion about whether the campaign met the goals you set out for it. Of course that means that you committed the goals to paper beforehand, didn’t you? It also means that people come to the meeting prepared to talk specifics. If the goal was to attract new supporters, then someone needs to bring a spreadsheet to the meeting with the numbers of new supporters and how much money they generated.
  • If the campaign is large or important there may be a need for some kind of formal evaluation. Maybe an outside firm needs to validate the number of media impressions. Perhaps an audit of the campaign’s books is required. Maybe you need to study formally the participants’ satisfaction with the campaign. If the campaign requires a customer satisfaction survey, I strongly recommend that you lead with “the ultimate question” devised by Bain consultant and author Fred Reichheld. The ultimate question is: rated on a 1-10 scale, “would you recommend this campaign to a friend.” If you don’t get a ‘net promoter score’ of nine or 10, well then the rest of the survey should be devoted to learning why that is.
  • Whether or not you ask the ultimate question of your customers, you must ask your sponsor(s) a version of it. If you don’t get a net promoter nine or 10 from them, you better figure out why and start doing some damage control. Remember it’s almost always cheaper to keep a sponsor than to find a new one.
  • If the campaign didn’t meet your internal goals, talk about why. One answer could be that the goals were unrealistic. It could be that your firm or an outside firm didn’t execute one or more elements of the campaign correctly. Maybe the campaign was poorly designed. If it went well, talk about why. Everyone knows a grand slam homerun when they see it, but not everyone knows how it happened. Spend the biggest single chunk of time in the postmortem meeting talking about how and why things went right or wrong.
  • Even if the meeting is large, make sure that everyone gets their say. There’s a couple of reasons for this. Many postmortems get dominated by the people with the strongest personalities. But they’re not necessarily the smartest or most insightful. The mousy student intern… with a true outsider’s perspective… may offer the most astute observation of all. The second reason to require that everyone speaks is to ensure that everyone gets a chance to be heard. You can do that by going around the room and insist that everyone make some remark. Prep them in advance for their participation so that people who need to prepare can.
  • Talk about the role vendors, outsiders and sponsors played. Was the agency participation dynamite or underwhelming? Was the work from the vendors up to snuff? Did the sponsor seem especially pleased? (If so, ask them to put that on paper).
  • If you had an agreement or contract with the sponsor, did you meet all its terms?
  • Make sure that minutes from the debriefing are kept. After the fact, insist that participants review and update the minutes and give them a deadline to make changes. Sometimes fresh ideas or thoughts come after the meeting and if they’re pertinent they should be added to the document. Prepare some kind of summary sheet that explains the campaign completely, if briefly. Stuff the summary, the minutes from the debrief, and all the exhibits (budget figures, copies of contracts, samples of the creative, and the like) into an expandable file folder. This is your organization’s living memory of the campaign, so make sure it’s as accurate, complete, and accessible as you can make it.
On Tuesday-- Tips for Evaluating a Cause-Related Marketing Campaign if You’re an Agency

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