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Sparking joy with measurement

April is a month for getting organized and clearing clutter. Sorting through paperwork for taxes. Writing Q1 wrap reports one minute and detailed activity plans the other. We’re getting into the weeds in our gardens and spring cleaning our minds, homes and businesses.

And when it comes to spring cleaning, organizing and clearing clutter, it’s hard to ignore the rise and influence of Marie Kondo. Her books, speeches and recent Netflix show have inspired thousands to organize their lives by asking a simple question—does it spark joy?

While I’m personally somewhere between komono and complete chaos in applying the KonMari principles to my home, I’ve been thinking about two things—the way that measurement is the clutter of the marketing world, and how the KonMari method can inspire us to treat it with care and value.

Measurement often looks like a big pile of data, and it needs sorting and organizing tools to be valuable.

Marketers have more marketing, audience and performance data than ever, but big business is shrugging it off. A recent CEO survey shows that more than half of marketing leaders say they don't feel like they have the right tools or thinking to measure effectively, and pressure from CEO and Board to report on impact of marketing efforts has been dropping for the last five years.

Further, some of the platforms themselves are acknowledging the frustrations of measurement. Facebook recently spoke with our team about the lack of correlation they see between engagement (likes, comments, shares) and effectiveness. In a study of several campaigns, over 90% of the offline impact was driven by those who never engaged with the ads in any measurable way.

Measurement is clearly perceived as a high-effort, low-reward activity by many companies. And so, measurement sits there: the confusing, messy clutter produced by the everyday living of marketing—too complicated to deal with, and easy to deprioritize.

Yet, the most successful companies, especially those best succeeding in the digital world, are the ones most likely to be using market analytics. You want to be those companies.

Plus, if you’ve seen the rigour and insights that a well-integrated measurement model can deliver on a strategic marketing and communications program, well, I probably don’t need to tell you it quite simply makes everything else easier.

So, what if we took the same approach to measurement clutter that Marie Kondo suggests we take to the clutter in our physical spaces, so that measurement sparks joy once again?

Let’s think it through with her three key principles:

1. Organized by category, not by room

What if we stopped focusing on measurement on a program-by-program basis, and thought instead about defining clear business outcomes that every program contributed towards?

When done effectively, this approach means that the big business goals become part of marketing’s DNA. It keeps everyone focused on the big picture and creates a sense of shared purpose that can spark creativity by answering a mission, not just a brief.

How to get started? Start with the simple exercise of mindfully writing down some broad goals for your brand or business next year. One way to make sure they’re as big and broad as they should be, is to try the Five Whys creative exercise: simply write down the first goal that comes to mind, then ask yourself, “why?” and write the answer. Repeat this process five times to turn a statement like “grow our Twitter followers” into “earn a place in the daily lives of our key audience”.

2. Honour things as you discard them, and keep only what sparks joy

When I think about how joy relates to measurement, I think about the moments where campaigns and programs I worked on really become successful in my mind. To my surprise, very few of these memories are about data points. Instead, it was the personal moments: a family member talking passionately about a campaign, unaware that it was my project; the first time I saw a billboard with my work on it; the time a celebrity I thought highly of supported a movement I’d helped to spark.

At NATIONAL, we believe qualitative research like anthropology has a place right alongside quantitative research and data science. But measurement is usually a quantitative space. So, what if we use the concept of sparking joy to give these kinds of personal, qualitative metrics their rightful place alongside the hard data points?

I’ve worked on some projects where we’ve defined some playful “blue sky” media goals, or explored creative answers to “what does success look like on this campaign?” questions. Nothing is as rewarding as when we can share and celebrate these specific, personal wins with clients.

How to get started? Daydream a specific personal moment around your business or brand that would get you personally fired up. Write it down and then talk about it with peers and business partners as you’re setting goals for the next program or fiscal period.

3. Maintain an organized space by giving things a permanent, visible place

It’s not that there aren’t moments where measurement is a priority. It’s just that people don’t always follow through. If we think about this principle, it’s about making sure metrics become more visible and consistent. They have a permanent place in the marketing strategy, execution and discussion.

Think about how much more outcome-focused a team could be if, instead of mainly talking about measurement at the beginning and end of a project, we talked about them throughout the process? What if you incentivized rigorous measurement that identified failure faster, instead of fluffed numbers that do better in case studies?

How to get started? Begin with intention. Share your desire to make measurement a bigger part of the rigour you apply to marketing and communications, and that you are going to do so in a positive, grateful and—yes, even joyful—way.

And if someone is skeptical, just thank them and discard that sentiment. You and Marie Kondo don’t have time for anything that doesn’t spark joy—even in the clutter of measurement.