How Control Groups Help Measure Impact
by Mike Poirier
SUMMARY: In the realm of experiential marketing, conducting surveys is simply not good enough. While a survey by itself can measure response, it cannot measure impact. Just as pharmaceutical companies must use control groups along with test groups to determine the efficacy of experimental drugs, so PortMA uses control groups to establish the validity of experiential marketing test results.
Experiential marketing is all about researching the impact of a campaign. That is why we apply the proven techniques of the scientific method. In order to adequately monitor event marketing campaigns it is imperative to distinguish between patrons who sample the brand at the event (the test group) and patrons who simply attend the event, but who do not sample (the control group).
We accomplish this is by surveying both groups. Our goal is to determine how much of an impact the sampling even has had on participants, particularly with respect to . . .
- pre-event brand awareness
- brand advocacy
- purchase intent
Would you mind if I ask you a few questions?
Both groups are asked the same questions. Because no one in the control group has participated in the experience, it has had no effect on them. Therefore, we can use their responses to establish baselines for each inquiry. For example, only 2% of all non-participating attendees said that they would be likely to purchase Monkey Meat Milkshakes. On the other hand, 85% of those who actually sampled Monkey Meat Milkshakes said they would definitely purchase them in the future. This would give validity to the insight that the product tastes better than its name implies.
- Additional insight might be gained by asking both groups if they have ever tried Moose Track ice cream. If a large percentage of the control group responds that they have, and that they liked it, that is further evidence that Monkey Meat probably needs a new identity.
- We are also able to note the relative difference that the experience made on purchasing decisions. In this illustration, it made all the difference in the world.
It’s not about the numbers. It’s about what the numbers mean.
“Marketers are often left with a sea of meaningless metrics and data to sort through, searching for meaning. Not only can this dynamic paralyze the optimization of events, but it can also lead executives to question the value of the hefty investment they make in these experiences.“ By employing the scientific method of using test groups and control groups, we are able to readily identify and quantify the direct impact of experiential marketing .
Photo Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/countydurhamdc/5139049957/