Measuring Success: Why Marketing Is Like Weight Loss

woman goes on run before measuring success by stepping on the scale

In your day-to-day life, success is generally easy to measure. If you set out to lose weight, then you know how much weight you want to lose by a certain date.

Measuring success in marketing rarely seems as straightforward as achieving a weight loss goal or other daily tasks, which is why it is often the most neglected part of the marketing cycle. In fact, a 2016 study revealed that over half of marketers do not know how to assess the effectiveness of their own efforts.

So how do you get to be in the fifty percent of marketers who do know what success looks like? Just like in weight loss, you start with an assessment.

Have a Plan

At first glance, weight loss and marketing seem like entirely different activities; one is about reducing body mass, and the other is a highly specialized professional skill. But they both begin with a plan.

The first step to weight loss is to decide what you want. In other words, you set a goal weight. This number gives you something to work toward and ultimately tells you when you have succeeded.

Knowing the goal for day-to-day tasks like weight loss is often obvious. Marketing goals become obvious when you know what you want to achieve. Your marketing goals will typically fall into one of five broad categories:

  1. Customer service – Help customers through marketing channels
  2. Sales – Sell more products/services/ gain more clients
  3. Branding and Awareness – Expand the people who know about your business
  4. Reputation Management – Proactively research public opinion of your business and respond in kind
  5. Influence and Thought Leadership – Be regarded as an expert

Quick Start Tip

Your goal is the guiding force in the marketing process. It is the target you are working towards with all your marketing efforts.

To get started setting goals for marketing, you need to think about results. What one thing do you want from your marketing efforts? Think basic.

Here are some examples to help you choose a goal from the five categories I discussed earlier:

  1. Customer service- Do you want to help your customers? Do you want to answer customer service inquiries?
  2. Sales – Do you want to sell more products/services/ gain more clients? Do you want to book a different type of client? Do you want to acquire clients using a new method?
  3. Branding and Awareness – Do you want more people to know about your business? Do you want to attract clients in a new geographic area?
  4. Reputation Management – Do you want to know what people are saying about your brand?
  5. Influence and Thought Leadership – Do you want to be known as an expert in a certain field/area of knowledge?

I recommend choosing a maximum of two goals per quarter. Any more and your marketing efforts can become unfocused.

After you select your goals, record them in your preferred manner, be it digital or pen and paper. A 2016 study revealed that the most effective marketers document their strategies.

So the simple act of recording your goals will bring you one step closer to achieving them.

A Starting Point

In addition to recording your goals, to begin, you must also have a starting point. Before you can measure success, you need to know where you currently stand. Start with collecting some baseline or beginning numbers.

When losing weight, you must record your starting weight with a scale. This number lets you know if you are losing or gaining weight week to week. In marketing, you also need a baseline for the metrics you will be measuring.

A baseline number allows you to judge your efforts’ success and failure. It provides context for your success.

Quick Start Tip

Record your baseline numbers along with your goals. This record will make assessing your goals easier.

No Deadline? Big Problem

When you have unlimited time to complete a task, there is no urgency or accountability.

If you want to lose 20 pounds, you will give yourself a set amount of time to complete your weight loss. Otherwise, you would always have an excuse for putting off your diet. Why not have that extra piece of cake and start the diet next week? But if you have a firm deadline in one month, you will cut down.

Marketing deadlines force you to be very selective with what type of content you choose for your brand, much like diets make you more selective with food choices. When all of your content contributes to a greater goal, you are more likely to have a cohesive marketing strategy or balanced marketing diet.

Quick Start Tip

When setting goals, there are several time frames you should assess:

  • Month
  • Quarter
  • Annual

Typically anything shorter than a month will not provide accurate data, so I recommend using a month as your shortest time frame. Three months or a quarter’s worth of data is ideal for seeing patterns develop that you could otherwise miss in a monthly analysis. A year will likewise yield even greater patterns.

How are you supposed to remember to check on all this? Set an alert in your calendar or task in your project management system, so you don’t have to think about it (we use Asana). After a while, it will be automatic.

Wishing Does Not Make It So

If your goal is to lose 10 pounds, you will not succeed by sitting around wishing for the weight to come off. You actually need to think about your current activities and what needs to change. Then you need to create a plan of action that outlines the changes you’ll make.

Success in marketing works in much the same way. Companies like Coca-Cola and Target did not become household names overnight. These brands had meticulously planned marketing strategies and utilized well-thought-out tactics to become the recognizable brands they are today.

Quick Start Tip

You probably already have an idea of how you want to achieve your marketing goals. HOW you get, there is your strategy and tactics. Take an hour out of your day and record WHAT you are doing. Verify that your efforts will actually lead to your desired outcome. Adjust any current efforts as needed.

Quick Start Guide – Marketing Strategy

Want to create a marketing strategy? Start with these four steps:

  1. Goal – Decide what one thing you want to achieve & record
  2. Baseline – Review your numbers as they stand today
  3. Deadline – Give yourself a time frame to make it to your desired number
  4. Tactics – Assign tactics to change your numbers from where they currently are to where you want them to be


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