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December 07, 2009



Perhaps it reflects my professional pedigree, but I'm a big fan of knowing what target audiences actually think of my clients, something that surprisingly few people seem to know or seem particularly interested in testing. You'd *think* companies would want to know. As a PR man, my job is to shift perceptions (ideally in a direction that supports the business objective). If I don't know current perceptions, and I can't test perceptions at the end of a campaign, well then I'm really just playing a very expensive version of blind-man's-bluff. I have a general idea of where the target is, and sometimes I get the pin more or less where I want it, but the rest of the time it's going into the couch, the wall, the dog, your eye, etc.

A common response to proposing this soft of testing is something along the lines of, "oh, well, just shift the tone in the media", that being easy and cheap to measure. And it would be great if the media was the main thing shifting perceptions or I could draw a clear line between what's in the media and the business results. But these days the media is just one element among many and often the line is not so clear cut.

So when I ask myself, at what point to all the channels of influence I work with converge in such a way that it forms the perfect target for measurement, I always come up with the same answer: It's the audience, stupid.

To your point, I don't really care whether we do it or the client does it. I just hope *someone* does it.


Will, I agree - we still see too many clients and agencies who behave as though measuring is too hard. The agency avoids the question in most pitch situations unless the client brings it up, and when the client DOES bring it up, the solution is either easy-but-dumb, or they lay the burden on the agency to come up with the metrics, then to handle the measurement.

Which goes back to my point. Metrics and measurement tools should be determined by and managed from the C-suite.

Oh, and one other thing: education. Marketing and communications programs need to start building quantitative analytical skills alongside the "softer" bits of the marcoms toolkit. We don't all need to be quants, but we all could stand to be a lot more comfortable with the tools.

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