Intellectual Property

How Will We Measure?

Finding results that matter

By Rose McKinney

We're a metric-minded society. Net promoter scores. Customer satisfaction ratings. Employee engagement. Klout scores. Dashboards. These are just some of the measurements and tools du jour, seemingly more specific and targeted than ever before. The days of impressions, clicks, AVEs and ROI are not all that far gone, but as technology and differentiating innovations prevail, we clamor towards the now all-too-familiar question: How will we measure that?

Questions are More Important Than Answers

In my reputation-management career, including branding, PR and marketing communication, I often ask clients the following questions: What will happen if we accomplish the tasks we've set forth? What will demonstrate the effort is gaining traction and making a positive difference? How will you use the findings to make future decisions?

The questions are more important than the answers, because the questions become the mechanism to establish both realistic and stretch expectations. These are questions that reach beyond the tactics to the desired outcomes, and even more importantly, to the potential outgrowths – the real measure of success.

An Encouraging Trend

Sometimes questions are off putting because we've already made up our minds about what to measure and about what's important. However, this has started to change. Organizations are taking measurement to new, more meaningful depths. In Douglas W. Hubbard's book, "How to Measure Anything", he inspired us to think creatively about measurement and provided rationale for why measurement is not always about precision. Measurement, he writes, is about reducing uncertainty and thereby making better decisions.

To get another take, I spoke with Mike Brown, former executive with LifeTime Fitness and more recently, the founder and CEO of Fision, an automated marketing company in Minneapolis. Brown supports that we no longer have to push or pull content and wonder about its impact because now we have conversations with our consumers.

Conversations are evolving from intangible to more tangible indicators. "In marketing sometimes we are challenged to ‘see' results," says Brown. "Today, digital and other emerging mediums allow us to see – to open our eyes."

From Measurement to Meaning

The shift occurs when we start with the desired situation compared to the current situation. Map a plan to get from point A to point B; take into consideration how the findings set up future decision making. With audience and milestone-based objectives, you have tangible and intangible indicators in place as well as evidence of progress. Before you know it, you'll have a measurement plan aligned with your marketing communication plan. Yields will be actionable and provide insights that are the keys to future decisions and a strategic direction for the business.

Context is the Connector

Measurement is just a snapshot unless it has context that includes feedback and adjustment, which more often than not occurs when we have conversations with our consumers rather than relying on rating points or other data. When you determine how the information will be used, shared and acted upon, the findings take on meaning and value.