What Results Are You Looking For? Do You Know Your Maximum Capacity?

I’ve recently encountered situations with clients in two very diverse industries, with two very different marketing challenges, that were both embarking on major marketing initiatives in the absence of some very important information. They hadn’t clearly identified the specific results they were looking for.

They thought they knew. In fact, when I asked them they both provided me with a lengthy explanation of what they were hoping to achieve. The trouble is that what they were hoping to achieve wasn’t quantified in any way.

It’s not an unusual situation. In fact, most clients I deal with – whether in small or large business environments – generally just want “more.” They want more customers, more orders and more revenue. But wanting more isn’t enough direction to provide their sales and marketing staff members, or their consultants. The volume of that “more” is going to serve as the foundation for identifying exactly what it is they need to do and to what degree to achieve their desired results.

For example, if I operate a small restaurant with a maximum seating capacity on an average Friday night of 320 people and my current average flow is 300 people, my marketing communication activities to increase demand will be quite different than if my average flow is 100 people. Not “doing the math” could either result in not doing enough to attract business, or doing *too much* and, consequently, creating ill will and negative word-of-mouth.

Every business has a maximum capacity that they can meet while maintaining appropriate levels of quality and service. Every business. While it may be possible to increase capacity (by hiring additional staff, increasing production, etc.), your marketing communication efforts should always be designed based on your existing capability to serve your target market effectively — or to ramp up quickly to meet the excess demand you’ve created. “Promise more, deliver less,” is not a good marketing strategy.

The trouble is, as I’ve said, far too few organizations — even very large ones — take the time to actually put pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to calculate what their actual capacity is. Taking the time to do this can yield some important information that can help ensure you’re spending resources appropriately and, in some cases, may yield important information about changes that could be made to help you increase capacity.

The bottom line, though, is that you need to know specifically what results you are looking for. “More” is not a meaningful objective.

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