Last month, Al Ries criticized the overuse of metrics in marketing in his Ad Age column, entitled “Metric Madness” (subscription required). I couldn’t agree more and I especially like what he wrote about experience:
An experienced marketing executive instrinctively knows whether a marketing program is working or not. Does Apple need to waste money to determine the ROI of its marketing efforts? What Apple is doing is working. What Microsoft is doing is not. You don’t need ROI numbers to figure this out.
There are many situations where the ROI is zero and yet the marketing expenditures are worthwhile. Nothing about a brand is more valuable than its market leadership. That valuable position is worth protecting. And advertising is the best way to protect it. Nike in athletic shoes. Heinz in ketchup. Rolex in watches.
In today’s business environment (read: Internet), you make your case to the finance department with your numbers. We spent this much and we got this in return. Fine, play the game: take the actual numbers and then crunch them to tell whatever story you want.
How honest is this? In direct response marketing, you use metrics — because you’re moving product. In general marketing, you’re moving brands — perceptions, positioning, awareness. Can you measure that in the short-term? Sure you can. Does it mean much? No, not really.
I had a supervisor who talked like a big “ROI guy” and used a lot of big words. He didn’t last long — and he’s still talking ROI like it’s going out of style.
Assess your work objectively. Just keep working and stick to your convictions.
During the summber of 2007, Al Ries also said the iPhone wouldn’t be a success. Heh.