I was buying a newspaper in the airport recently when the cover of the Harvard Business Review caught my eye. “Are metrics undermining your business?” it asked before a sub-head went for the jugular: “Too many leaders confuse numbers with strategy.”
Over the years, I have marveled at the rise of “metrics” in business. It’s good that we monitor what is being achieved; however, it’s also possible to be too focused on the numbers. While data should be used for decision-making, it shouldn’t bog us down or be confused with strategy. That’s why I’ve always encouraged clients to ask the simple but effective question: does this feel right?
We have given a lot of thought over the years to this issue and generally favor the word “results,” a word more encompassing than “metrics.” Here are a few example that illustrate my thinking:
- Clean, compelling brands establish a clear difference in the minds of prospects. This can result in a higher price and improved close rate for those in sales
- Rich website content can appeal to buyers with the right mindset. This can result in less back-and-forth and, thus, a faster sales cycle
- Smart social media and PR can establish recognition as experts. This can result in more inquiries
- A thoughtfully-presented newsletter or webinar can educate referral sources. This can result in quality leads at lower cost
I still encourage our clients to pay close attention to the data. But I hope they’ll listen to their gut as well.