If you treasure it, measure it

We are now into the home stretch before the end of the year. It’s time for that final push to reach your target numbers. That is, of course, assuming you know what numbers you’re trying to hit in the first place. I’m always a little surprised at how often people are comfortable to put time and money into marketing efforts without knowing objectively whether or not the expense is worth it. There are few other business arenas where gut feelings and anecdotal evidence are given so much authority.

I believe that measurement and analyzing performance are key factors that separate successful organizations from unsuccessful ones. They produce insights, drive focus, motivate action and inform meaningful change. As we look forward to 2017 and get ready to make new plans, prepare budgets and set some goals for ourselves, let’s make sure we’re also considering what it is that we’re going to measure in the new year.

Here are some key ideas to help you measure with purpose:

Goals first

Measurement is predicated on a solid understanding of your organization’s goals and objectives. Yogi Berra said, “Be careful if you don’t know where you’re going because you might not get there.” In order to know what to measure you’ll first need to know your mission, your vision, your values and you will have had to have set some “smart” goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic and Timely. The reason so many organizations lack proper measurement is, I believe, the result of not knowing where they want to go in the first place.

Make measurement a priority

“If you treasure it, measure it.” Nothing happens unless you commit to it. Measurement must become one of your values or it simply will not get done. There is a cost to measurement. It takes precious time and resources. But if you think, as I do, that insight, informed decision making, clarity and focus, productivity and meaningful change are key to success, then measure!

Don’t measure everything (only what you treasure)

Measurement is not the goal in and of itself. You can collect data on almost everything. But this takes time, tools and, in some cases, money. While technology has made it much easier to collect, record and analyze data, make no mistake about it, measurement costs. So only measure the things that are important to the success of your organization.

Still not sure what to measure? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

If marketing should be, as Peter Kuehni says, the number one priority of any business leader, then properly measuring the results should be mandatory. There is so much that we can measure these days, from activities to channels to sales and financial results, but I suggest starting simple. That might entail the following:

Leads and conversions

A lead is simply any incoming inquiry about your business. Leads can come in the form of a phone call, email, Facebook message, conversation at a weekend BBQ, etc. Not every lead will turn into a sale, so you’ll also want to measure the number of leads and the number of those that turn into sales (conversions). These two basic numbers will be extremely important in assessing your overall performance and in developing meaningful objectives for marketing. Want to take your game up a notch? Track the lead source as well. This will begin to inform which channels are best serving you with qualified customers.

Make measurement a recurring task

You’ll need to decide how to collect/record any data related to your KPIs and how often to report on it. A good pace to start would be on a monthly basis — we’ve found that this has worked well for us and many of our clients. We may watch some metrics weekly as well, just to make sure monthly goals stay on track — especially for campaigns we can modify quickly. Create a spreadsheet where you can record and run calculations on the data.

Who will be responsible for collecting, analyzing and reporting?

Think through the process as it would fit best into your operations, delegate to the capable people and put recurring tasks on auto-reminders. The collecting and analyzing don’t necessarily have to be done by the same person. The crucial link is often the analysis – committing to make the time to look at the data that’s been collected and understand what’s happening. Using dashboards to present a quick, summary look of the most important results can be an efficient tool.

Be ready to act on the data

Measurement may tell you things you’re not expecting. Be open to what the data tells you! And be prepared to change! This isn’t just true for hitting sales numbers and business results. You can of course apply this to other areas of your life as well.

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”

Benjamin Franklin

If 2017 is to be a year of meaningful change for you personally or the organization(s) you serve, I hope you plan to measure. And then I hope you’ll have the courage to make the right changes and experience progress. Good luck!

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