Speed-Time-Distance Marketing

In the seventh grade we learned how to use the Speed-Time-Distance formula. I thought it was amazing. It seemed like you could figure out almost anything if you just knew a couple of pieces of information. Magic.

Working in a McDonald’s restaurant during high school, Speed-Time-Distance came back in an interesting way. My boss told me the business was simple, just like the speed-time distance-formula: traffic times average check equals sales. In his mind, everything else was a distraction

Traffic x Average Check = Sales

After college I worked at one of McDonald’s local agencies, then on the Burger King account at JWT and then Taco Bell at FCB. As large and complex as those businesses are, the simple formula (traffic times average check equals sales) was my touchstone. And while I can’t take all the credit, my clients had tremendous sales success by driving traffic, average check or both.

Now we’re in the age of technology-enabled marketing, hyper-personalization, contextual advertising, etc. These tools and mediums provide tremendous opportunities to drive marketing efficiency and competitiveness. It’s an exciting time to be developing strategy and executing plans. There are a constant stream of new platforms and ideas. And a plethora of ways to attribute the impact of marketing on the business.

The evolution of attribution models, and direct attribution of advertising to sales is evolving as well, providing new opportunities to apply the Traffic x Check = Sales model. Facebook offers brick and mortar retailers the opportunity to measure actual transactions linked to views of Facebook advertising. Almost in real time. Google offers a similar service. Or you can search “attribution model” and let your imagination, and research budget, loose on the challenge.

If you’re in charge of advertising, marketing, or even market research developing a strategy to measure marketing effectiveness is not optional. Management requires it and if your competition is getting better at it than you your business results will suffer.

Where do you start? How can you make attribution consumable broadly in your organization and company? Much of the analysis can be accomplished by thinking like a McDonald’s franchisee. Look at your traffic. Is it up or down? Now look at your channels, markets and segments? How about your average sale? Are there products, channels, segments, or markets that are trending the wrong way or under-performing vs. the average or goal? Now you know from a business perspective where you have opportunities, or problems.

If you’re not in the fast food business, where 99.9% of customers who walk through the door buy something, put some funnel-thinking into the mix and understand your traffic to sales ratio, which also allows for some diagnoses at the market, segment, or channel level.

Using Speed-Time-Distance (or traffic x check = sales) thinking you have the foundation to build a sophisticated and actionable strategic dashboard whether you are an offline, online or hybrid marketer. Depending on the size and complexity of your business you can enable apps to scrape your data and report out to a management dashboard. Or, like we did at the Milpas Street McDonald’s, you can do it on a clipboard hanging by the time clock.

Does this approach seem too simplistic? Not applicable in today’s environment or in digitally-driven businesses?

Tell me what you think.

About Greg Sieck

Greg Sieck is founder of SieckGrowth Branding and Design. His work for brands such as Intel, Taco Bell, AT&T, Mazda and Dolby, and myriad B2B tech companies and startups focusses on how brand and marketing strategy can drive growth. For an informal conversation about Speed-Time-Distance Marketing, or any other topic please contact Greg at greg@sieckgrowth.com or call (415) 717–4460.