How can I estimate the value of a new marketing idea?

What makes an idea worthwhile? This is an essential question for any marketing team. Because you are constantly receiving input — ideas from teammates, requests from the rest of the organization, and data about the market and your customers. With so many different sources of feedback, it can be difficult to figure out which ideas are truly worth pursuing. And you want to identify what will bring the most value to the business.

You have likely already defined your marketing strategy and captured the high-level plans to achieve it. You might even have big campaigns that you plan to launch throughout the year. A huge amount of creative energy and ideation goes into this work. But in most organizations, marketing is a shared resource. You are also responsible for fielding a large number of requests from cross-functional teams. This is why many marketing teams find themselves in reactive mode. You can probably relate if you have ever felt overwhelmed by all the requests coming your way. Perhaps the sales team has an idea for a new downloadable guide or HR wants you to create ads for a new marketing role.

It helps to first have a formal idea management process in place. This is a structured approach for how you will improve your marketing efforts and drive innovation. Idea management entails gathering and storing every idea and request in a central location (such as an online ideas portal), and then evaluating and prioritizing each idea so you can decide which to implement.

This is an example of a marketing ideas portal with comments from marketing and cross-functional teammates.

Why should you estimate the value of marketing ideas?

It can be tempting to say "yes" to everything — especially when the idea sounds great on the surface. After all, you want to fulfill requests quickly and support your cross-functional teammates. Other times, you are so busy that your knee-jerk reaction is to immediately say "no" to anything new.

But there are problems with both of these approaches. Pursuing every idea that comes your way can cause you to lose sight of your strategic plans and what you need to accomplish. You can also find yourself chasing trends or investing in marketing channels that do not make sense for your product. On the other hand, rejecting anything novel is just as dangerous because you might overlook something of real value. To keep up with constantly shifting market and customer needs, you need to be willing to experiment with new ways of engaging potential buyers.

You want a more balanced approach. When you apply a logical and quantitative lens to your vetting process, you can be as objective as possible about the intrinsic value of each idea. This allows you to assess each insight based on how it will help you improve your marketing programs, deliver better messaging to customers, and support business growth. And once you understand how each idea stacks up against the others, you can determine which ones to implement.

How to evaluate each marketing idea

As you review ideas and requests, it will be obvious that some are not practical. For example, if an idea is clearly not aligned with the company strategy and marketing goals, you can quickly decide to pass on it. Likewise, if an idea is unlikely to generate executive support or does not relate to a specific marketing opportunity, it is easier to dismiss and explain why.

If you use idea management software where people can vote on submitted ideas, you can quickly gain a general sense of each idea's popularity. Ideas with the most votes may not necessarily align with your marketing strategy, but a quantitative indicator can be useful for seeing which ideas have broad support. For example, the sales team can express support for a new webinar topic or the field marketing teams can vote for industry events that they know their customers attend.

Keep in mind that every organization and marketing team is different. You will need to prioritize different ideas depending on your market position, organizational maturity, team size, and budget. But no matter what your specific circumstances are, here is a general framework you can use for estimating the value of a new marketing idea:

1. Strategy

How closely does the request align with the overall business and marketing goals? What about your current or planned marketing initiatives? If you use idea management software, you can create an internal scoring mechanism to help you answer these questions. Quickly rank ideas on any values you deem important such as thought leadership, customer engagement, or sales.

This is an example of a marketing scorecard you can use to objectively measure the value of each idea.

2. Impact

Will the idea help you generate leads, increase conversions, or drive add-on sales? How will it help you increase awareness, improve engagement, or enhance efficiency? These are all important metrics to take into account for determining the value of any new idea. You can also think about the idea's potential impact on each stage of the sales pipeline, as well as customer loyalty or "lovability."

3. Effort and cost

How much time, effort, resources, and budget are needed to implement the idea? Does the marketing team have the capacity to do so? Think about the additional costs of maintaining and supporting an idea, such as the time required to update existing content or create more assets.

4. Timeliness

How urgent is the request? An idea may only have value if it is delivered within the specific time frame needed. An example of this is if the sales team needs a customized pitch deck for an upcoming customer presentation. Delivering the pitch deck any time after the scheduled presentation is not helpful — you need to consider the urgency of the request.

Promote the best ideas to your marketing roadmap

Using the four focus areas above, you can create a simple equation to assign a numerical value to each idea.

For example: Idea value = Strategy + Impact + Timeliness - Effort and Cost

While you will need to immediately implement some ideas and requests, others will support the longer-term programs and campaigns on your marketing roadmap. Promote these ideas to activities on your roadmap, so everyone on the team can see a timeline for your plans and how they align with the overall marketing strategy. Aha! provides purpose-built roadmap and idea management software that makes it easy for marketing teams to do this. You can collect, evaluate, and score ideas all in a single place, then promote the best insights to your marketing roadmap.

You are responsible for communicating with customers and providing your cross-functional colleagues with the materials they need to perform their roles. Thinking critically about which ideas to pursue is essential — so you can focus on the work that matters most to reaching customers and driving business growth.

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