Results are in the Eye of the Beholder

At one point or another, we’ve all heard a version of this story:

A king brings six men into a dark building. They cannot see anything. The king says to them, “I have bought this animal from the wild lands to the East. It is called an elephant.” “What is an elephant?” the men ask. The king says, “Feel the elephant and describe it to me.” The man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar, the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope, the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch, the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan, the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall, and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe. “You are all correct”, says the king, “You are each feeling just a part of the elephant.”

Sometimes it may feel like we’re all speaking a different language when it comes to measuring results or communicating success. The finance group and C-Suite are often focused on ROI and other tangible revenue-related outcomes. The sales team may be more concerned about lead generation, though, and your team is likely concerned about yet another metric.

When all the numbers are worked out, some teams may see success while others do not. The revenue-generated may be off the charts, but the sales team may not be happy with the lead generation.

So who’s right?

The answer is the same as in the elephant fable: everyone is right because everyone has a different frame of reference or context.

It’s easy to look at your own metrics and leave it at that, but we have to remember how all of our work can affect the rest of the organization. Ideally, each campaign should be measured based on needs from all affected departments, who have already told you what metrics they want to measure and how to plan for it.

It’s more likely that you will have to cater to other teams after the fact and be able to show success or value based on various different scales. While this may not always be the case and sometimes it will seem impossible, there are steps you can take to lessen the panic when the sales team comes knocking asking for results.

Consider who will care and ask for advice. When building a new campaign, consider all teams and departments who will likely care (whether they know it yet or not). Proactively reach out, explain the campaign and ask what results they may be interested in seeing. Try to get them on your side and help you plan to measure what they will want to see.

When in doubt, make an educated guess. If you just can’t get sales or finance to return your calls or respond to your emails, make a guess. Don’t take a stab in the dark. Find that report from a campaign last year that included sales metrics or ask a friend who has worked with the finance team before. Try to find as much information as you can and predict which metrics may be the most important.

Stand your ground and use your goals. When all else fails, be prepared to defend the metrics you measured based on your goals. If a campaign was run for the purpose of growing awareness, for example, defend your metrics that show how many consumers were reached and how many remember your brand. When finances comes knocking looking for revenue numbers, explain why they were not included for this campaign. Measurement should always depend on goals, so stick to your guns.

How do you measure for multiple perspectives? How do you keep everyone happy?

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