The Danger Of Focusing Expectations On A Single Metric
It's easy to fall into the habit of judging our success upon a single measure, but columnist Kendall Allen cautions that our marketing environment is much too complicated to do so.
Surely we’ve all had this experience. Over the course of a couple days, you read or note two different things, in two different contexts, and your mind immediately couples them.
Such an experience this past week allowed me to crystallize some thoughts around a certain chronic self-fulfilling prophecy that oh, so many of us indulge. Here’s one of the things that sparked this epiphany:
[blockquote]”Expectations are simply resentments postponed.”[/blockquote]
This little gem, not surprisingly, came in the form of a Facebook post — words someone had grabbed and stylized on an Instagram picture of some variety, probably including a sunset or a puppy.
You knows these snippets well; these are the little platitudes someone repurposes to friendcast as their own and jam your feed. But, every once in a while, one stops you in your tracks and makes you think.
Expectations Can Become Rigid And Confining
This one did. I immediately reflected on examples of this truth. With or without context, input, cross-checking with those around us or acknowledging the reality at hand, we often set expectations — these loaded parameters of desire that become rigid, because they’ve been developed in isolation.
This happens at home, at work, in social circles, within relationships, as we inflate and project what should be without factoring in what is informative context and other points of view. It’s different than hope. These undercover mandates set us up for disappointment.
It’s only a matter of time before those around us inadvertently fail to deliver on these slippery devils. And, this happens all the time in the business of marketing — when we are hasty and when we take shortcuts in the thought process.
A Single Measure Shouldn’t Define Success
Two days after ruminating on that little beauty in my news feed: Boom. I had the pleasure of reading a special report by eMarketer’s David Hallerman for the audience assembled at iMedia Breakthrough. The report was called “50 Best Practices for Digital Video: Do’s and Don’ts for More Effective Advertising.”
Number 42 jumped out as a glowing truth: “#42. Don’t count on a single measurement to answer all your questions.”
You may say that sounds obvious. Sure, it does. But is it obvious? Do we stop ourselves in time?
When doing our business, marketing plan and any given initiative within it justice — do we always slow down and really think through what we are trying to accomplish and why? Do we take the time to lay out the strategy and tactics, and then determine the various (operative word: various) things we should care to learn?
It’s fine and, some would say, noble to have a singular objective or goal — but don’t we need more than one indicator or one clue that we’re striding toward that goal?
Sure, we can zoom in on one indicator to prove that we are getting the job done, but I would suggest that a more aggressive vetting of our own progress is necessary in order to truly scale our achievements. Zing, right back to that thing: expectations.
It’s Easy To Set Ourselves Up For Disappointment
If we focus exclusively on a single measure, we create an expectation that it can tell us all we need to know and that it alone is the key to doing all that we need to do. We are bound to be disappointed — and possibly even in a way we can’t quite put our finger on — as this plays out.
The environment in which we market today is much too dynamic to be guided or informed by a single measure. Consumers are living cross-device lives; systems exist for measuring and analyzing their patterns, intents, behaviors and actions; media and creative tech are at their hilt.
It’s all at our disposal. Why would we measure one thing: the click-through rate, the view, the view-through, the initiation, the start, the stop, the path to conversion? It is all valuable.
Just as inflated expectations accumulate to resentment, diversified studying and learning aggregates to a full view. And that’s a far better place to be. Free of rigid expectations and open to learning all you possibly can.