Has the web made us too metrics minded?

by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded

The wonderful thing about the web is that you can measure and calculate to your hearts desire. Metrics and raw numbers galore. I appreciate this. (I’m a research guy at heart, but I don’t do it professionally.) But I believe that the extreme of almost anything is not a good thing. A common saying is “If it can’t be measured, it’s not worth doing.” To me, this is a very stupid saying. In the world of marketing, we deal with many more things that aren’t measurable, but that are very important, than things that we can actually measure. I’m not against the Google world of metrics, but I believe just living according to Google, brands miss many of the important things that do have ROI, but no direct measurement.

Let me give a few simple examples just to get the point across. As a business, we know that having our receptionist answer the phone in a pleasing manner or smiling and greeting visitors kindly is important. But, how do you measure that to know it’s paying off? We all know that it’s important that your logo on your web site should match the one on your corporate brochure. It’s good business, but how do you measure that it’s true? We all know that it’s beneficial to your brand to contribute and support your community in real and tangible ways, but how do you measure the ROI on what it’s worth it? As you see, there are many business decisions that are made that don’t have direct metrics, but are still good business.

Marketing and branding is more art than it is science because we’re dealing with people and people aren’t robots. They will do something that is totally illogical and buck the experts. They run on emotion. In fact most decisions are emotion driven. Marketing and branding must come from the same place, the heart. This is especially true when marketing to women. They don’t want specs, facts and figures only. That will be important to them after they feel they can trust you. What they want is something they can believe in and “join”. They want a real relationship, not just to be sold. (Please check out Holly Buchanan’s blog on marketing to women. She’s much more expert than I at that.) It’s true that metrics and measurements can give you a foundation and insights, but it’s not the ultimate in whether you should do or not do something. Often times, the right thing to do has no real direct measurement. We all know a brand is important, but there is no real direct measurement for that. Now if you don’t believe a strong brand is important then you must love commodities, because that’s what you are without one.

You can create measurements and metrics to measure the “soft” issues, but you’ll have to get creative in how you judge that. There are no real direct measurements for these qualities, but it is “soft” issues that are the most important. Being loved, indispensable, and desired are more powerful than click-throughs, page views, and rankings. The emotional part is how “fans” can move mountains on behalf of your brand. When customers become passionate about your brand, they can be unstoppable. As you see, passion is not a measurable thing, but all brands covet that. The numbers can mean whatever you want them to. My accountant can work magic with numbers to make them mean what we need them to mean. As Tom Peters has said, “The soft issues (brand, emotion) become hard (moving mountains) and the hard issues (numbers, metrics) become soft (left up to manipulation).”

I’m not discounting the need or the importance to measure what you can. That is still very critical in the overall marketing plan. But, it should not be the driving factor in what you do or the true measure of success or failure. It is the combination of metrics, measurements, brand, and passion, that delivers a powerful ROI over the long-term.



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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