How to rank ideas

It is so tempting.  Should we get into social media?  Should we make an event booth?  Should we advertise?  Here is how to pick the best ideas for you.

Evaluate your idea, just like a business manager would.   Costs are typically straightforward to quantify; benefits are typically hard to quantify.  So it will be difficult to make a go/no go decision.  Instead, compare each cost/benefit relative to the cost/benefits of all your other ideas.  Remember, just because an idea doesn’t “cost” much, if it eats up a lot of staff time, then it does cost you.  Time is just as valuable as money.

1.  Identify all the costs (including staff time) and the benefts.

images-40Each cost/benefit analysis should be 1 page with an emphasis on bullet points and brevity.  Complex ideas that would require significant spending can justify more detailed analysis.  The goal is to keep the analysis factual.  Resist the temptation to write paragraphs.  Less is more.

Here is a template to follow:

  • idea summary
  • advantages
  • disadvantages
  • cost/benefit evaluation

Here is an tutorial of a cost/benefit calculation for establishing a presence in social media.

2.  Make a leaderboard.

images-45Just like the leader board at a golf tournament displays the ongoing rankings of the players, this leader board can display the relative merits of each marketing proposal. Put ideas in descending order.  Over time, the rankings can change, just like the rankings of golfers on a leader board. Once a year during your business planning cycle, figure out how much money you can direct to new marketing ideas and select down your leader board until you have allocated all the extra spending.  Any ideas that didn’t make the cut, can wait till next year.

Why make a leader board?

  • This is a great way to summarize all your marketing ideas and present them to your Board of Directors.
  • If you ever receive an unexpected donation, you will know which idea you can start on right away to include in your thank you note.
  • if you are approaching a corporation, consider asking them to sponsor your top ranked idea.
Rank   Idea                       Cost       Benefit
1      redesign brochure          $1,000     out of date
2      event booth                $5,000     $20,000
3      direct mail               $10,000     $10,000
4      social media               $1,000     $750 + advocacy role
5      gala night                $20,000     $30,000

3.  Compare the profitability of each idea with the programs you already run.

Check out how each new idea compares on the Marketing Effectiveness report.