Marketers have been attempting to study cause and effect since the arrival of their first advertising invoice.

If we pay our electric bill, we flip a switch and get lights.

If we pay to fly across the country, we usually walk off the airplane in our desired port. Our luggage?  We pay extra for luggage to ship it to an unknown port.

If we drive through a quick-service lane, we get a bag-o-food at the third window.

We usually get what we pay for.

Leaders who make marketing decisions rarely know if a dollar spent returns a dollar in earnings.

It’s very difficult to measure the cause and effect of marketing campaigns. It’s easy to believe that revenue has increased because of marketing. It is equally easy to believe that marketing caused a decline in revenue. Both claims are hard to measure.

Spurious variables make measurement more difficult. By definition, spurious variables are not measured. We don’t know what we don’t know.

I’ve learned that attempts to measure the impact of tactics are fruitless. Did Twitter work?  Did that podcast increase sales?  Did our commercial in the Super Bowl work?

The answer to all three questions is “I don’t know.” Tactical measurements are cloudy at best. And at least part of the answer depends on your definition of “work.”

Instead of throwing marketing tactics against a wall, commit to a long-term system of key activities.

Identify people in need of what you do best.

Work hard to develop the best message about how you do what you do.

Send your message with heavy frequency. More is better.

Keep modifying your target audience by adding to and subtracting from your email list.

It’s easier to measure the impact of a system.


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