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MarCom Matters

August 2013
Issue: #46

What’s your Chicken Test?

When the captain said, “Shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes,” I knew we’d be in it for the long haul.

Here’s why: My wife Janet and I were heading home a couple of weeks ago after visiting family in El Paso, Texas.

Yes, we have relatives who renounced the cold and snow of the northeast to follow the Siren of desert heat and cactus. Turns out the joke’s on us though since they’re the ones wearing shorts and tee-shirts nine months out of the year.

Anyway, we boarded the plane in Dallas for the final leg of our trip. And no sooner had we shoehorned ourselves into our seats when the captain announced he needed to start the engines in order to check the oil pressure… or level… or something.

Thirty minutes later (not the promised 15), he came back with a good-news-bad-news report.

The oil situation was fine. But while the engines were running, the ground crew noticed a bunch of feathers flying out the tail. Apparently there had been a recent “bird strike.” And so specialists were called in to inspect the engines for possible damage.

While awaiting the verdict, Janet (who knows all) clued me in to the chicken test. It seems that jet engine manufacturers toss formerly live chickens (beaks and all) into their engines while running at full speed.

Actually, the chickens are shot from special guns at about 200 miles an hour in order to simulate common strike situations – those occurring during take-off and landing.

As it happens, our plane’s engines were intact and we pushed back from the gate unruffled by the aviary adventure, albeit two hours later than scheduled.

So here’s the question: Do you have a chicken test?

In other words, do you have a standard way to validate the performance of your marketing communication initiatives?

Because here’s the thing. Buyers and customers keep changing how they acquire information and what’s important to them. And you (occasionally, anyway) keep launching new marketing programs and campaigns.

So amidst all that commotion, you want to make sure you continue to meet your company’s established business objectives, even when unexpected situations arise.

With that in mind, here’s one approach to creating a chicken test template…

Okay, so you don’t exactly shoot this chicken into your campaigns.

But what it does do is give you internal feedback so you can see what’s happening inside the engine at each stage of the campaigns. That’ll help you assess where things are breaking down and identify places where you can make improvements.

More importantly, the tests give you an at-a-glance picture of how each campaign or program performs against expectations or minimum requirement levels. And that’s critical to measuring how well each contributes to your company’s marketing and business initiatives.

And that kind of information just might earn you a new feather in your cap.