Leap of Faith

I have to admit that marketing measurement was the last thing on my mind as I watched daredevil Felix Baumgartner take his extraordinary leap of faith from a balloon at an altitude of 128,100 feet. The only thing on my mind was that Felix was clearly out of his.

Few things in life are certain, but I am quite certain that I could never do anything like that jump. It would require a bravery possessed by very few people on the planet. I’m not one of them, nor am I out of my mind, at least that’s what I think!

As I thought more about whether Felix might actually be out of his mind, I decided that while he definitely was brave, he probably wasn’t crazy. I also realized he needed something more than his bravery to make such a jump.

I consider Felix’s plunge towards the New Mexico desert a leap of faith because, before he could hop off that ledge into a four plus minute free fall, Felix absolutely had to believe in three things:

  • His Team – That they knew what they were doing and wouldn’t let him down.
  • His Technology – That his spacesuit would protect him and that his parachute would open BEFORE he hit the ground.
  • Himself – That no matter what happened, he could handle it, such as pulling out of a wild spin before blacking out or dying.

Without these beliefs, I’m pretty sure Felix wouldn’t have jumped, as the risks and the price of failure would have seemed insurmountable. One mistake, one miscalculation or one malfunction could certainly have killed him.

By contrast, a decision to measure marketing is considerably less risky and dramatic than a decision to jump to earth from the edge of space. Still, it can seem daunting to leap into marketing measurement as there are some risks, including that you might:

  • Not learn anything that helps you improve your marketing
  • Waste precious resources, like money and time
  • Expose the fact that some of your marketing is ineffective

While these are legitimate concerns, there are lessons from Felix’s leap of faith that we can apply to marketing measurement which also help to mitigate those risks.

Believe in what you’re doing: There are many ways to approach marketing measurement. What matters is to commit to a methodology that you can execute consistently. If your organization can commit to an approach and stick with it, then you greatly improve your chances of success. Much of what you will learn will come from applying one approach across all forms of marketing spending.

Get all team members on the same page: Successful teams focus on common goals. Everyone needs to understand and agree on your reasons for measuring, on what you’re trying to learn and on how you define measurement success.

Get the help you need: Support your measurement efforts appropriately, with the people, time, expertise and funding you need. You may have sufficient internal resources or you may need to supplement those resources with external help. It’s tough to take that leap if you think you will be out there on your own.

Remember that it’s a journey: Your efforts to develop effective measurement practices will likely be a long journey with a lot of small victories along the way, and probably a few mistakes, too. The full experience of that journey with all the victories and mistakes is where you’ll learn what you need to know to succeed. The things you’ll learn along the way will often pay dividends immediately, like helping to identify and eliminate ineffective marketing programs.

I can imagine that Felix overcame many obstacles in the years, months and days leading up to his big jump. The spectacular success of his jump was not so much a single event as it was an end point in a journey, and while it may be an end point for Felix, it is also a key milestone in an ongoing journey for science and space exploration.

Those who succeed at marketing measurement make a commitment to the journey and begin that journey believing they have what it will take to overcome obstacles, mitigate risks and achieve success. They also know that by making sure they have the right stuff for measurement – a blend of people, expertise, technology and methodology – they can believe in their journey and take their own much less risky leap of faith.

About Rick Shea
Rick Shea is President of Optiv8 Consulting, a marketing consultancy that helps small to mid-sized organizations improve their marketing impact and business outcomes through customer insights, strategic discipline and effective content. Copyright ©2016 Optiv8 Consulting. All rights reserved. You may reproduce this article by including this copyright and, if reproducing electronically, including a link to: http://www.optiv8.com/

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