I weighed myself this morning. This was no normal weigh-in, though. Like many of us, I started following a health regimen as a New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier and lose some weight.
It wasn’t a normal weigh-in because it didn’t follow my usual protocol. I don’t weigh myself every day because weight loss doesn’t follow a linear path toward goal weight. If you read day-to-day fluctuations, it’s very easy to get discouraged. So I tend to weigh myself every two weeks or so, so that I can see real progress and avoid getting discouraged. For some reason, this morning, I was tempted to check progress just three days after my last weigh-in.
I also usually weigh myself first thing in the morning, just before jumping in the shower. This time, I was contemplating weighing myself after completing my morning routine.
“The scale isn’t going to show you what you want,” said my internal monologue. “Even if you lost weight, you’re going to be left wondering what the number would be if you followed the usual routine.”
And, of course, I caved. I jumped on the scale. And, of course, it showed no weight loss over the prior three days. This, of course, set my brain in motion.
“How much do my clothes weigh? How much water does a body absorb in the shower and how much does that weigh? Did I have a particularly big dinner last night? What’s going on?”
Then it hit me. I had just made the same mistakes that marketers make with measurement every day. Only, instead of threatening to hurt the bottom line, my situation was threatening to wreck my health regimen.
Did you spot the mistake? It’s really quite simple: I jumped on the scale, knowing that the numbers I was going to get weren’t really representative of what I wanted to know.
Here’s why it was a mistake:
1) I agreed prior to starting the regimen that I was going to weigh myself every two weeks, because I knew ahead of time that daily weigh-ins are too granular. But I did it anyway.
2) I agreed when and under what conditions I was going to take the measurement, and then I did something else entirely.
3) Once I measured the wrong thing, I immediately started second-guessing myself and asking what I could do to course-correct.
Too often in marketing, but especially in digital where almost everything is measureable, we agree to gauge our effectiveness by a certain set of rules. And yet, when campaigns are live and the numbers start flying around, we often wholly or partially chuck our measurement strategies out the window in favor of something more easily accessible. And it sabotages our success.
And it’s hard to see the self-sabotage as anything but human nature.
As marketers, we all need to enforce strict discipline when it comes to measurement. When we agree to measure programs in a specific way, surrogates often take us further from a measure of true success – especially the ones that are invented on the fly. Your ears should perk up anytime somebody tries to change the yardstick, but especially when you hear “well, having something right now is better than nothing for two weeks.” Anytime you hear something similar to that, it’s time to rein in the offender.
Tom Hespos is a contributor at The Makegood and Founder and Chief Media Officer at Underscore Marketing, a boutique firm that creates and manages digital marketing programs. Look for Tom’s column the 1st and 3rd Friday of every month.