The Follies of Marketing Measurement

[Our guest blogger is Cool Friend Steve Yastrow. Find out more about Steve at]

“If you can’t measure it, you shouldn’t do it,” is one of the stupidest concepts in business.

Many things that can’t be directly measured are worth doing.

Here’s a really basic example: Should you ask your receptionist to smile when guests enter your office foyer? Of course you should! There is no way to measure the impact of a smile, but you are 100% certain that it is a good idea.

There are many decisions we make every day without being able to measure their direct impact. Should you clean your office before a client visits? Should you use the same logo on your website that you use on your printed brochures?

The answers to these questions seem obvious. But there are many other ideas that are terminated prenatally for one simple reason: The executive with control of the purse strings can’t, from his vantage point, see a direct return on investment from this idea.

Important point: Just because this guy can’t see a return on investment doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist.

Our world is very complex, and we create business results through combinations of actions. The receptionist’s smile, the clean office, and the standardized logo on all marketing materials combine with hundreds, or thousands, of other customer touchpoints to create a cumulative story. This overall story is what motivates a customer to act, not any one point of contact.

So how do we make decisions in this complex world? We think. We strategize. We learn so much about our businesses and our customers that we are able to make good decisions. We create Brand Harmony.

You can’t measure the effect of the receptionist’s smile, but here’s what you can do:

  • Determine what the optimal business results are that you are trying to create, and measure if they are created.
  • Determine the optimal customer behavior that you are trying to encourage, and measure if customers are doing what you want them to do.
  • Determine what you want your customers to believe about you, and then measure if they believe it.
  • Determine what the optimal customer experience should be, and then measure if you are creating it.
  • Determine what you want your employees to do, and then measure if they are doing it.
  • Determine what you want your employees to believe about your company, and then measure if they believe it.
  • Determine the action steps that are on strategy, and then measure if they are happening.

Determining these things will give you a framework for making decisions and measuring if your actions are heading in the right direction. Good strategy and good understanding of your business will give you confidence that your decisions are the right decisions

Don’t let your boss get away with being myopic, focusing only on metrics that are right in front of his face. Transcend the mundane measures, and create real ROI.

Steve Yastrow posted this on September 25, 2009, in Strategies.
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