Source Level Triage

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 8.34.48 AMLet’s assume you’ve built your marketing whiffletree and have a banding model at the source level that you can analyze every Monday.

Of course, you’ll sort your sources from most effective to least and do more of the things that work while cutting the dogs.

Correctly, we find ourselves spending a lot of time at the banding cutoff, i.e. looking at sources just above or below our allowable. That’s where you can scale your efforts and optimize marketing ROI.

I also suggest you think about your media sources using the triage method to help focus your efforts. Like classical triage theory, your sources belong in one of three “tents” where the source:

  1. Will never get any better. The performance you have is what you have. You probably can’t scale it much and changing creative and offer will be of limited efficacy. If it’s above the cutoff, great. If it’s below, cut it and move on.
  2. Will be hard for you to screw up. These sources basically print money and will work almost regardless of what creative you throw at them, how much you run, etc. (There are usually not many in this bucket, of course.) Your most junior employees can learn the ropes on these sources. Take advantage of the source’s resilience and use it to train your next generation of talent.
  3. Could go either way. Meaning if the creative, volume, or mix with other channels is right, they work (or could be improved to be made to work). If wrong, the source performs at a rate below your allowable. This is where you earn your pay.

And the source could be in any of the tents, regardless of the sortation on the banding model.

Spend most of your time in tent three. Look at the things that need your limited resources, whether they be from your channel managers, your agency, or your analytical team. Those sources could live or die, but they need your attention. And don’t have triage done by interns. It should be done by the marketing experts with the most experience.

Messy work? Sure. But if you’re going to figure out what’s going to survive, you’ve got to get into the blood and guts of your media performance, and make some hard decisions.

Takeaway: During source analysis, focus on the sources with variable outcomes which are dependent on your intervention. Spend your time in “tent three.” And win.


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