“Buzz doesn’t have a measurable ROI”
This is a great quote by Jeffery Eisenberg, co-founder and CEO of FutureNow, Inc., in David Meerman Scott’s book The New Rules of Marketing & PR. Eisenberg goes on to say, “The cumulative effect of doing a lot of right things is what works…”
It got me thinking…is it possible for a person or business to have “buzz” or “street cred” and not know it? Is it possible to have it and not be able to measure the benefits that purportedly come from having “it”. Whether it’s a book launch or re-branding a business or achieving your own personal positioning. Is “buzz” a measure of success? How do we define “success”?
A few years back I was managing a 501(c)(3) non-profit dance company I co-founded with my now ex-wife. This particular day our warehouse open space was being considered by a small indie theater company as a location for a series of performances. Out of the blue, the artist commented to us that in certain corners of the Southern Nevada artistic community our little company had “swerve”…by which he meant favorable buzz on the street. It was a pleasant surprise to hear, and while we had decent foot traffic from media articles and paid advertising, I can’t say I could quantify the ROI our “swerve” might have been generating.
Even further back in my career as a marketing and communications agency executive, PR firms were constantly challenged by clients to “measure our results” so they could calculate a mysterious ROI on the money they were paying us and therefore be able to defend our efforts (and their decision to use us) to their bosses. I’m sure the situation is not much changed today.
Behind closed doors when we were trying to articulate such metrics…and perhaps to relieve some tension…I used to show a viewgraph of an old Sidney Harris cartoon, in which a professor is being critiqued about a complicated mathematical formula he’s written on the blackboard. Just before the equal sign is the notation “Then a miracle occurs.”
We all want to achieve success in what we do, whether it’s work related, raising a child or a few, making a relationship work, or making a difference for others. We all do a lot of right things, sometimes without really thinking about them, to move closer to our goal.
Maybe it really comes down to how each of us measures or quanitifies success. And what is the miracle, the tipping point that takes us from going to bed one night thinking “this just isn’t working” to waking up the next day and proclaiming “Huzzah! Success!”
I consult with organizations about their strategic marketing and communications challenges and one of the first questions I ask is: “What criteria for success have you established and what methods do you employ for measuring performance against those criteria?”
“None.” “We don’t have any.” “That’s a good question.” This is what I get 100% of the time. Or the one I really like: “That’s why you’re here.”
The big point here is to understand that success is a measure of the “whole,” not of the parts. You measure success by putting your starting point in a qualifiable frame of reference and your goal in that frame of reference plus X.
It’s important to measure the effect of the tactics you employ to move the needle. There are lots of tools to help you do that such as Google Alerts, Radian6, Google Analytics, Google Blogsearch, Technorati, and Twitter hashtags. Even old school techniques like clip books (if you need something to send your Mom) and Nielsen ratings. But with tweets, re-tweets, blog posts, reblogs, etc. it’s impossible to accurately quantify many tactics.
Eisenberg adds, “[Success] is the measure of how many little things you do right. Lots of small things [add] up to make the difference.”
Maybe “buzz” is today’s version of “a miracle occurs here.”