Michael Ziviani is the CEO of Precise Value and is this month’s Measurement Maven. At this year’s Conclave Summit, Ziviani gave his presentation on “Visualizing Value: From PR Success to Business Success.” I sat down with Mr. Ziviani after his speech and he gave me some of his views on his work and measurement.
Q: Can you give us a brief overview of your presentation at the 2014 Conclave Summit?
Michael Ziviani: My thesis is that communications doesn’t happen in isolation; there is no one platform that is received by one audience only. There is a synergy created by multiple platforms and multiple messages across those platforms. Communications or brands build in people’s minds until they hit a threshold of change of outlook or attitude that causes some behavioral shift.
Each communications or marketing component adds to that build. You can either plan them collectively in a synergistic way to get a multiplied benefit. Or you can beaver away individually and get commensurately lower return.
So I do see this game is won by a structured approach and a systematic approach to how you use all the elements to really amplify and really work well together.
Q: What does your company Precise Value do?
MZ: We’re an independent pure analytics organization. That independence allows us to have a voice of reason in reality without any influence. We look to produce what I call an evaluation architecture of what do we measure, where do we measure it, and what we do with that information.
How you action things and how you set them up should be planned up front. Because when you do that with clients you’re able to know what sort of information you can action. Therefore you don’t waste time on information that’s just nice to know. Let’s focus in on the exact information [you need to know] and how to get to it, because that’s what will define strategy change.
We find a lot of our work now is at the strategic level, both at the front and end of projects. Management strategy at the marketing level is becoming an increasing component of our business; to advise clients on what the data is informing us.
Q: Can you give us some specific examples of changing how people measure?
MZ: A certain nonprofit client is a good example, for which their focus was very heavily on awareness. We came in and did some analysis and had the very strong contention that the focus should be much further down the marketing funnel.
Because for them to increase one point of event awareness was an incredibly expensive thing to do. And it may not lead to any increase in support or donation. So let’s go down the funnel, let’s look at consideration and let’s understand which target market they’re most successful in. We can do that by looking at their current base, but also let’s understand what type of messages trigger those target markets.
That way we can become doubly effective. That’s where this multiplier effect comes in; how you use the data and the research to inform your strategy, to inform action. What is the most effective action for the use of your available resources? So we’re able to shift their focus and also give them subsequent metrics toward donation, which will enable them to target the right customers and then measure it in the right way.
Let’s understand people after they’ve jumped a couple of hurdles and figure out what makes them jump those hurdles. So we can deliver whatever that is most effectively.
Q: Are companies getting better at incorporating measurement into their decision-making process?
MZ: Depends. The large companies have fundamentally struggled, by simple fact of their size and the communications barriers internally between departments. Depending on how they’re organized, some are doing really, really well at it.
The small companies probably struggle with resources and the level of thinking that’s required to actually do this. However, they’re much easier to set up with structured approaches to evaluation, which I call integrated evaluation, across all the elements and components. So there is this sort of blend of what’s possible and what’s realistic in the different organizations. You need take that into account when you work with different clients.
Q: During the presentation today there was some debate over the difference between Comms and PR. Can you explain your view on this?
MZ: I’d argue that they actually work together at an equal level. But a traditional theoretical approach might say, “Marketing is the 4 Ps. [Product, Price, Place and Promotion]” Comms might not have command over pricing, but it’s going to have a lot of influence over promotion, and perhaps distribution as well.
I think that it’s largely a theoretical debate. Because you need to have them working hand in glove. This is where there’s a lot of opportunity for growth. Or what I’d say is dramatic improvements in effectiveness and efficiency; in other words, smarter not harder.
But that comes at a cost, and that cost is setting up structured evaluations systems which are truly integrated. That takes time and effort, and, furthermore, interpreting those results and applying them into changes of your strategy.
I call that a closed loop. The more you loop between “plan, do, review, refine,” the better you get, the more efficient you become, and the more focused you are on achieving the goals you seek. ∞