Marketing Mix Modelling: tips for choosing the right partner


3 min read
01 Sep
01Sep

Introduction

Compared to when I started a role as a trainee analyst with an independent marketing mix modelling firm 21 years ago, today’s choices for those in the market for marketing effectiveness analytics are much broader. So where on earth do you start?

I provide marketing mix modelling services myself, but this is not a sales pitch – chances are I may not be for you nor you for me. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula either, but what I can do is provide a few signposts and thought starters.

Because it’s what I know I have marketing mix modelling in mind but the same principles are relevant for other types of marketing effectiveness analysis, indeed in general terms they also hold for anyone in the market for expert consultancy services.


New, or been here before?

If it is your first experience with marketing mix modelling you may not know what to expect so will probably value a partner that has introduced businesses to the approach for the first time before. Most potential partners will qualify, but not all will be able to give you the time and attention that you need this first time around.

Be sure to ask these questions:

  • What support is available for the data collection process?
  • How accessible are the team if you have questions?
  • Is training available about the approach and how to use it?
  • Is support provided after an engagement is over?

Perhaps you know what good looks like already – or you have not seen it yet and that is why you are window shopping. This is when things may get confusing because potential new partners will all have their own ideas and may be keen to use their own approaches. The trick is to stay in control and retain what you have that works for you.

Consider these points:

  • List what works and what needs to change with your current partner
  • Try an honest conversation with your current partner – it may save time & effort
  • Write a clear brief that includes the detail above. I wrote something on briefs here
  • Ask about methodology. If results will change get stakeholders on board early


What is the bigger picture?

Marketing mix modelling is just a tool, not an end itself. The outputs will answer immediate questions, but can also inform wider marketing strategy, and either fuel or enhance an existing marketing planning process. It is worth thinking about that even if it is not on your current radar.

The right partner can help you to develop the modelling depth, broaden its uses and embed its outputs into your processes over several years, if that is what it takes. If that sounds good, what are your terms – would you eventually want to undertake it in-house? Having this big picture sketch and sharing it can help you find the right match.

Try to find out:

  • What is the appetite is to work with you if you have ambitions to take in-house?
  • Which potential partners will help you with this? (They may not advertise this)
  • What are the pertinent IP issues – proprietary algorithms, software, & the like?
  • How will your potential partner service a future increase in scope?
  • What experience do your prospects have in embedding analysis in a business?
  • How comfortable are you they can help you deal with multiple stakeholders?  

 

First impressions?

It is not easy to ‘try before you buy’ with this sort of service, but it is reasonable to ask potential partners if they can offer a modular solution. For example, a feasibility stage is where the data is gathered, initial analysis but limited modelling is undertaken. Put a break clause in the contract that enables either party to bow out at the end of this stage.

It is useful for both sides; I suggest it with clients whose businesses are in industries I have less experience of and will provide a go/no go recommendation based on the outcome. This is not free but is a fraction of a full engagement fee. I am personally wary of partners whose offer is ‘all or nothing’ in any business where data is involved.

You can also form an impression of prospects before engaging with them with a bit of old-fashioned due diligence before you invest time in meeting. When I am checking out prospective clients my first ports of call are Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter:

Aside from the more obvious background checks:

  • What do they choose to write aboutDoes this resonate or jar with your values?
  • How do they engage with their audience? Is the style or tone right for you?
  • Are they transparent about what they do, how they operate, their values?
  • Who are the people behind the business, and do you think you can get along?
  • Do they seem the same everywhere – and with you if you do eventually interact?

 

Goldilocks?

Potential partners may all be equally technically qualified to provide marketing mix modelling, but they differ in whether they are ‘just right’ for your business. Here are a few of the differences that you may come across:


  • Size. There are options from solo freelancers to global agencies. It does not necessarily follow that you must match based on your own size. Freelancers work together or as collectives to service larger clients. Global agencies have regional or even local clients.
  • Industry profile. One of the benefits of larger agencies is that they tend to have a broader client base, so are more likely to have experience in your industry. But do not overlook that many freelancers and small agencies learned their craft in larger firms before becoming independent.
  • Shape. Some partners have separate sales and analysis teams while in others the people you meet initially are the practitioners who will work on your business. Some separate their data processing and analysis functions while in others the analyst who processes your data will also work on your models.
  • Automation. I am all for using technology to be more efficient. It is possible these days to automate marketing mix modelling too. This is risky if it is absolute although in the right hands blended with human expertise it can increase scaling possibilities. Find out what the humans do. And how they check on the machines.      

 

Summary

I have not mentioned price. See this piece for my opinion on how much marketing mix modelling costs – budgets are obviously a constraint but be wary of treating approaches like this as commodities.

The best fit for you if you are in the market for mix modelling should be based on your view of a potential partner’s ability to:

  • work with you effectively whether you are completely new to the approach or an old hand looking to inject some fresh thinking
  • understand and work towards your goals whether these are to eventually take the modelling in-house or just make an upcoming one-off decision
  • be flexible and open but with a clear independent voice; be a good fit with your business in terms of approach and values

Finding a marketing mix modelling supplier is easy but finding the right partner to unlock everything the approach has to offer is worth spending some time on.


Please ask before reproducing my material partially or wholly for commercial use.
© Jo Gordon Consulting Ltd 2020

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