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September 20, 2006

You Can't Manage What You Don't Measure

Posted by Brian Zopf | Filed under: Marketing

There's a lot of talk about growth these days. If you listen to what people tell you there's "unprecedented growth" and progress in almost every sector of society: in our nation's economy, in our collective knowledge and expertise, in terms of education, morals and, of course, in business. But "growth" in regards to what? According to what standards?

Everything can be measured in one way or another. The problem is: It rarely is. It's one thing to say or feel you're experiencing growth. It's another thing to know it. Test hypotheses. Track your efforts. Even though statistics can be manipulated, anything you can back up with numbers will undoubtedly receive more attention in the public square, while resulting in more trust among your constituents. This applies to personal life, as well as business.

How you measure something is entirely up to you. But one thing is certain: You can't manage--for better or worse--what you don't measure. Without a starting and ending point, you have no measuring stick.

A few words of advice when measuring ...

  • Never change parameters or measurables in the middle of a test. Whatever metric you decide to use, give yourself at least a year to track results. (Seasonality will almost always be a factor.)
  • Others (CFOs, CEOs, and Wall Street for starters) will push you for continually improving results. Pay little attention to their anxiousness and take the long view instead. It'll give you a much more realistic view of your market--and the effect your advertising is having on it.

Action point: What concrete questions can you be asking and tracking in your life or business? How can you better collect and interpret this data to produce meaningful change?

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