We've all seen that look on the face of the boss. It says, "What on earth are you talking about?" Sometimes that look is something we deserve to see, because we really don't know what we are doing, but often, it's because we just have something to say that the boss doesn't understand. Recently, a client asked me how she can wipe that look off the her CMO's face every time she starts talking about measuring Web conversions and offline conversions. Her boss waves these ideas away, saying he only wants to measure brand awareness. What can you do in this situation?

It's not easy to get your boss to agree to a new measurement. You need to understand that it is scary for most people to sign up to be judged by a new number that they don't understand. They feel like they have their job wired. This woman's CMO was sure that he knew how to succeed as long as brand awareness was the metric, but was wary of looking good on any other basis.

Depending on your boss, you might take a few different approaches:

  • Make it flow. Explain how conversions are really the next step after brand awareness, and showing conversions will prove to everyone how valuable brand awareness must be, because without it we have no conversions. (Yes, this is kind of bass-ackwards, but if it allows you to get started, then do it.)
  • Start small. Don't introduce conversions as a way to replace brand awareness or as superior to brand awareness. Instead, talk about it as something else that we want to measure "just so we can show that we are having an impact on the business." (Executives like to talk that way.)
  • Scare him more. If he is petrified of introducing a new measurement, then you might want to scare him more about not introducing it. Explain to him that the reason that CMOs have such short tenures is that everyone else is keeping score with money (sales and costs) and marketers keep score in brand awareness, which the CEO and CFO do not understand. That is how we are really being judged, no matter whether we admit it or not.
For some bosses, you can pick one of these approaches if you think it will work. For others, you can walk right down the line from top to bottom. You can probably think of other arguments, too. Regardless, marketers must change the conversation to explain the value of marketing in terms that other executives understand or risk becoming the next marketer looking for work.And if none of these approaches work, it might be time for you to find a new boss. 

 Originally posted on Biznology Blog.

May 4, 2013

Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.


My boss's does not understand SEO, he just want more sales and when i make the sales come true, he dosent care about where they came from - it could be old style; flyers or SEO and Sociale media marketing..... I care and know what it takes to make the sales come true!

Even sales and costs don’t necessarily measure brand recognition. There’s no way to measure such an abstract and vague thing, unless you do surveys of competing brands. From a marketing standpoint, it would be hard to know what your job entails without being able to show progress through charts and numbers. I think that explaining conversions as the customer’s action based on brand recognition is a good way to connect these 2 ideas. After all, brand recognition does nothing if the customer doesn’t respond to it.

Definitely true, Lee. I don't mean to imply that sales equates to brand awareness. I mean that sales are usually better than brand awareness, so we shouldn't be limited to what we could measure in the olden days.

What if your boss only wants to measure brand awareness?

Better find a new boss because there's a 98.65% chance that your current boss is an idiot!


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