St Nicholas was a fourth century Bishop in a place called Myra (now regarded as Turkey), famed for his generosity, he was known to have made secret gifts to the needy. One legend has it that he dropped coins down the chimney of a family where the daughter had no dowry. Those coins are said to have landed in her stocking and she was then able to afford to marry. Seventeen centuries on we talk about him across the world by different names; Father Christmas, Pere Noel, Old Man Christmas and Santa Claus, to name but a few. It is said that the Father Christmas we know today actually owes much to the first Coca-Cola advertising campaign run back in the 1920’s, proving that marketing and branding are at the centre of everything. So you cry, what has St Nicholas to do with this blog, well other than his success at selling fizzy drinks he runs a firm measurement that supports his success, the naughty or nice list. We will return to this later.
In the previous blog in this series I wrote about the importance of aligning the usage of your software to clear business objectives. Or put simply if you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there? Without a clear objective and a set of measurements to track how you are doing, success or failure become subjective and end up being described more in terms of feelings, rather than being based on empirical evidence. This is not without consequence; businesses are often shocked when they start to put in proper measures. I was speaking with one firm who had identified a key client based on the longevity of their relationship and total fees over the term of their dealings. What they didn’t measure was the true cost per matter, the number of transactions per year and the strength of relationship. They had expended much effort on this "key client" but when re-measured they could see that they were losing money on them, that the number of transactions was decreasing and that their relationships were weakening because key personnel had moved on and a competitor was "eating their lunch" because of stronger connections. Sadly, they had all of this information available to them in their systems but were too focused on a hunch.
A lack of agreed measurement over time has further consequence;
- It makes it harder to gain budget – as you can’t justify your numbers
- You expend effort on things that are of less value rather than having laser focus on the ones that do
- You struggle to get buy in from stakeholders as you can’t prove what their efforts will return for them and you can’t define what actions have the best return
- You struggle to increase the adoption of your chosen software application as you can’t show tangible benefits – it’s a little like using a thermometer to work out how tall you are
With any project or campaign, you have to define your objectives and your success criteria (and get them agreed by all parties) at the outset. You then need to measure progress against those criteria as you move forward and be prepared to adapt your behaviours to keep on track against them. Apply this to Father Christmas. It has been calculated that he has only 32 hours to travel 500,000,000 km, delivering approximately 700,000,000 presents. This is a project that needs clarity. He needs to understand his target market "the nice" (using agreed criteria in his CRM), generate a targeted list, he needs to know where to find them (his CRM data is up to data and accurate – thanks to his data stewards/elves), and he knows what presents to deliver to them (great relationship understanding).
Seventeen centuries on he is still succeeding (clearly demonstrating a programme of continued investment and improvement in his CRM/Business Development System). I hope you make the nice list this Christmas Eve.