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Optimizing The How

Inbound Marketing


In this results-focused world, we sometimes lose sight of what causes those results. One of the central ideas of ROE Powers ROI is understanding how the different ways of thinking directs where we put our energy. Too often we look only at the outcomes of the metrics. How many conversions did we get? Visits into leads, leads into contacts, contacts into customers? How many services did we sell? However, this is the wrong use of “how” as a metric.

It’s important to look at the outcomes, but it’s much more important to look at how we measure our success.

Maybe it’s a sort of metacognition. In some ways it’s not unlike what we learned back in elementary school when it came to giving a report: stick to the 5 W’s. We might not be thinking about it, but the 5 W’s give us an almost intuitive outline for the metrics.

  • Who – the buyer personas.
  • What – the different metrics we want to use or the points of the funnel we want to measure and the offers we make.
  • Where – the different channels we use to extend our reach like social media and blogs
  • When – the timeline for implementing our goals, the “T” in a SMART goal.
  • Why – what metrics are all about—achieving success.

Back in Ms. Gammill's 5th grade classroom, I could never figure out the best way to account for the how. The 5 W’s is nice and succinct. The 5 W’s plus H might work, but it’s a little clunky, and it violates the entire purpose of a mnemonic device by forcing me to remember to add something in.

And that could be a part of the problem. Too often in the push to measure our success, we forget the how, and the how is going to drive the other areas. We have to determine how we are going to reach our personas, which pushes us to look at where we're going to put our content. That in turn affects what offers we make in order to achieve success.

The same is true for metrics. More than what we measure, it is how we measure that will determine the effectiveness of our measurements. Are the measurements in real time? How quickly can we respond to the results? Having metrics that measure efficacy helps us to get the most return on our energy, but the metrics, the outcomes, should never be the focus of our energy themselves. The metrics won’t offer solutions. 

In terms of today’s marketing efforts, so much of the focus is on the packaged services that we sell. Companies are going to have some version of bronze, silver, and gold packages that are going to include a variety of services for a client, but those aren’t the solutions. The solutions are how we deliver the results. In some cases, it might even be something that isn't necessarily charged for. The how is the strategy and planning that goes into making ridiculous results happen.

The same thing has happened in fields other than marketing. If all managers at Amazon worry about is productivity, they end up the focus of an article in The New York Times. If all school administrators worry about are test results, they get tempted to cut corners and maybe end up in a federal investigation. Companies focusing only on pleasing the shareholders soon find themselves poorly positioned. The key to success is optimizing the how. 

Another saying I learned growing up is take care of the little things and the big things take care of themselves. Some people may think I’m splitting hairs in demanding a focus on how be on processes rather than outcomes. Outcomes are the what. Processes are the how. As meticulous as that distinction might appear, it is exactly the sort of little thing that makes certain that the big things come out correct.

Every industry has its unique cycles. Different versions of the same things. When teams get together to decide how they are going to be successful, it’s critical that they keep their focus on the processes that will help them deliver remarkable results. Keeping a disciplined focus on products and the solutions the team offers makes it much more likely that they when they look back at the what, they’ll be talking about success.

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