Peter Drucker
is widely considered to be the father of modern management theory.

Many of his papers and books are required reading for management students and I think it’d be hard to find a top CEO who isn’t familiar with his work.

At a time when some digital marketers – especially those who focus on “social media” – claim that results are too difficult to measure and that brands need to put their existing notions of what constitutes “return on investment” aside, I increasingly find myself believing that the world of digital marketing would benefit if some of Peter Drucker’s wisdoms were applied consistently to the execution of digital marketing campaigns.

Drucker’s Management by Objectives, for instance, was originally designed to provide a strategy for managing people and organizations.

Its SMART methodology for validating objectives states that all objectives should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-related

These are all, of course, applicable to digital marketing campaigns, which should have a specific desired outcome, should be measurable, should be achievable, should be realistic and should be able to drive results over a pre-defined period of time.

Other Drucker insights have application to digital marketing:

  • Drucker: “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.

    In my opinion, there are quite a few digital marketing campaigns that are executed “efficiently” but many of these are not “effective.”

    For instance, I would not try to argue that social media marketer Kami Huyse didn’t execute her social media marketing campaign for Sea World San Antonio competently.

    The bigger question, as I highlighted in my deconstruction of her campaign, was quite simple – how effective was it at driving people to the park?

    From my analysis, it was extremely difficult to validate the results claimed and thus it appeared, as one commenter on my blog put it, that any celebration of the campaign was akin to “cheering for the hammer and nail instead of the thing that’s being built.

    When engaging in any digital marketing campaign, it’s worth considering Drucker’s statement that “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

  • Drucker: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

    In a little debate that was sparked by a response to my post about a case study on a social media marketing campaign ran, one commenter stated, “You can’t precisely measure the benefits of ‘good’ social media marketing.

    Duncan Rileyadded, “You CAN measure it, it’s just both difficult and/ or not cheap to do so correctly.

    Measurement has turned out to be the Achilles heel of social media marketing for the simple fact that very little measurement of real value is done.

    But it’s hard to argue against Drucker’s wisdom. After all if you can’t measure a campaign, how do you manage and improve upon it?

    As Drucker said, “Checking the results of a decision against its expectations shows executives what their strengths are, where they need to improve, and where they lack knowledge or information.

Of course, much of Drucker’s wisdom is common sense and good marketers have always applied similar principals as part of their general modus operandi.

But as the world of digital marketing matures and the wheat is separated from the chaff, I think smart digital marketers should redouble their efforts on adhering to a philosophy rooted in common sense and good practices.

As Drucker observed:

“Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. This is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality. [Emphasis mine]”

Digital marketers might want to keep this in mind.