If You Cant Measure It…

If You Cant Measure It…


This is the last post in a series I started last week, on how great marketing is actually just great storytelling; more specifically, I’d like to write today on the importance of assessment and measurement in your marketing efforts, and how measurement ascertains the success  – or failure – of your product storytelling efforts.

The saying “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” is (perhaps erroneously) attributed to management consultant Peter Drucker. The idea being, of course, that if you can’t properly assess an activity using some objective methodology, then there is no way that you can determine how to effectively control the success of that activity (other than relying upon plain ol’ blind luck).

I agree – in part – to this statement. But it doesn’t go far enough in the importance of assessment to merely claim that we must be able to measure an activity.

Effective measurement goes beyond cold, statistical stock-taking; it requires reflective assessment on the meaning behind the feedback that you are gleaning from your data, not just the data itself.

Soak time, if you will.

Back in a far-distant part of my consulting career, I worked with a large polling organization and a large publicly traded hospital chain on patient satisfaction surveys. We were examining the rates of satisfaction from patients who were attended to in emergency rooms, and later admitted to the hospital, as well as those patients admitted to the hospital without going to the emergency room, first.

What was staggeringly obvious was that those patients who first went to the emergency room, and were then admitted, had a significantly poorer reflection on their quality of care than those patients admitted directly to the hospital, sans ER visit.

What was going on here?

Well, ERs are notorious for the long waits they impose upon (most) patients. But more importantly, you typically don’t go to the ER electively – you go because you are experiencing a real medical crisis. The trauma of the ER experience was being transferred onto the subsequent hospital stay, fairly or not.

Had the satisfaction data not been assessed from the story aspect of what was happening (patient to ER to Hospital), the context of what was actually happening was not readily apparent.

After the fact assessment is truly important to gauge the success of a product story; however, assessing and measuring engagement success while the story is being told is equally – if not more than – important. If you’re telling a story in front of an audience, you can tell the success of engagement through the feedback of yawns, smiles, claps, or raspberries you receive.

Likewise, a well crafted product or brand campaign will measure in real time the efficacy of the message as it is received.

Now – truly with traditional media, it is difficult to do this. How can one measure how well a magazine ad or billboard is performing? But for digital media, this barrier does not exist. In fact, real time measurement is one of the biggest force multipliers of any type of digital channel over traditional media.

Feedback and assessment must be baked into your brand story from the onset of the first strategy meeting. Otherwise, how can you react when you’re campaign isn’t producing the desired result you intended, if there is no way to gauge feedback? Or worse, your campaign has caused an unintended PR nightmare for being out of touch with 21st century social norms? Even though Kenny Rogers famously sang “there’ll be time enough for countin’, when the dealin’s done“, that can be death to a brand – or company – if you wait until the end of a campaign, to react to what your story is doing in the world.

I’ve purposefully shied away from talking about specific tools for digital campaign measurement and assessment, for the same reason that I find the phone that Michael Douglas uses in Wall Street to be amusing, now. Time marches on, and new tools will always be coming along.

The important things to take away are:

  • You need to design in your marketing measurement methodology from the start;
  • You need to continuously measure – and react – while your story is being told;
  • and You need to assess the overall efficacy of the campaign once your story is complete.

I welcome the chance to hear your feedback on these posts, and listen to your thoughts on what I got right – and where I missed the mark entirely.

Happy Marketing – and, Happy Storytelling.

One thought on “If You Cant Measure It…

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