The Window Can Be Dangerous

People want to know. Maybe not everything, but most things. There is still some bliss associated with ignorance, particularly for those messier details. So, companies are putting more of themselves “in the window”, showing the world how they function and what they actually do.

When you put yourself there, honesty and openness rule the day. With that honesty, innocent mistakes can be forgiven. Companies that insist on the constant spin that everything is perfect need only one thread to see it all unravel. Simply look to the individuals and organizations that quickly find themselves cowering in disgrace.

At the same time, having that type of transparency, especially for a company that has been around for a while, requires that you have your act together. Let me offer a personal example.

Traveling home from a business trip last week, I stopped at a familiar vendor (they have stores across the country with a good reputation) to grab a sandwich for the flight. I placed my order and could watch the staff just to the side making the sandwiches and wraps. The line of people waiting for their food grew, yet the workers showed absolutely no sense of urgency. They also looked as though they didn’t really know how to make what they were selling. They ran out of most types of bread, even though that is their specialty. And they fulfilled the orders out of sequence.

All of this is happening before 6 PM on a Friday in one of the country’s busiest airports.

There were other problems as well: inconsistency in calling out the finished order to patrons; other staff not stepping in to help; a manager trying to decide with another manager which one would stay and which would go to the other location in the terminal. And yes, everything took place in plain sight.

Take a lesson. Get your processes and procedures in place. Train your staff to be customer-centric. Create a sense of urgency in fulfilling customer needs. Then, put it in the window for all to see.

Oh, and if you’re worried about your competitors stealing your ideas, fear not. Out-execute them, and you’ll stay ahead of the game.

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Measuring Your Performance

Measuring your brand’s performance from a marketing standpoint is difficult at best. Part of the reason, as I wrote before, is what I call the time to gratification. As marketers, we generate content, distribute it to our audiences and wait. Sometimes, we’ll see immediate results. Other times, however, it may take weeks or months before someone decides to purchase based on content we developed a year ago.

So, we look for ways to accurately measure our performance (there’s a ton of research and numerous books and training on how to do it, much of which is out of reach cost-wise for most small to medium-sized businesses).

Some folks will just look at sales. If sales are up, we must be doing something right. But a pure look at sales may not account for promotional pricing, especially when it is out of your control.

Others will look at read rates for their e-mail campaigns. Many people, like me, use the reading pane for their e-mails, never to click them open. So much for that.

Maybe you can troll forums and blogs to see what people are saying about you. It’s a great idea (and everyone should be doing this), but those will only be those people with something to say.

Think about surveys for a minute. Often they are reported as a certain percentage of Americans (or whatever demographic group) believe such-and-such. While, statistically speaking, sampling can give you a pretty good idea of what the group as a whole thinks or feels, the reality is that it is the percentage of those people that decided to respond to the survey. As Mark Twain said, “There are lies, damn lies and statistics.”

There is no easy answer. How you go about measuring your performance depends somewhat on the type of business you are in. There are some things you can do, however, that will improve your ability to measure:

  • Avoid measuring in general terms like overall sales. When using sales as a barometer, focus on particular segments, markets and geographic areas that match your targeted content.
  • Identify processes and outcomes that are measurable. In other words, look for those specific items that, when done correctly, lead to positive outcomes. It could be how you generate content, make decisions, fill orders, handle complaints or deliver the product.
  • Measure things that are within you control and that you can manage.
  • Only measure when you can collect the data.
  • Be able to use what you measure to improve what you do and how you do it.
  • Measure the things that you can share with those accountable for the performance.

By putting the right measures in place, you will put yourself and your brand in the best possible position to succeed.

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