Thursday, July 27, 2006

Making Accountability sexy

One of the favorite discussion topics between Marketers today is the dichotomy and tension between Creativity and Accountability. Most marketers belong to one of the two camps. Only a minority tries to seriously combine both sides, even fewer have figured out how to let both areas live not just peacefully but also productively together. I believe that one underestimated force to create a more productive intersection between both disciplines is the effort to make Accountability sexy.

What does this mean? I believe Stephen Lewitt's and Malcolm Gladwell's biggest impact on the marketing community is their success in making numbers sexy. Now, it’s time to make Accountability sexy. How? Let me propose the following actions that every marketer should pursue:

  • Demystify ROI by explaining how ROI can be translated into a meaningful metric (= positive ROI of 10% means that we drove 3,234 incremental shopping trips within a particular week with an average basket size of $64).
  • Visualize metrics by replacing excel with meaningful interactive visuals (= an interactive dashboard with taps and selection options gets more attention than any number of excel files)
  • Tell a story of insights and conclusions not a story of numbers (= simplification and story telling is not a symptom of laziness but the result of intellectual rigor of describing a complex problem in a very simple manner)
  • Don’t overload the audience with an enormous quantity of metrics but focus on the top 5 or 10 metrics (= any accountability presentation should fit onto one ppt page)

Why is this so important? Because Creative minds are absolutely willing to be accountable but hate to be lectured to in numb minding details about meaningless numbers. We Marketers need to present and communicate Accountability in a compelling and interesting manner, instead of boring everyone with thousands of font size 4 numbers. This effort can be the first step in creating a positive outcome of marrying Creativity and Accountability. Then, one day Accountability might become sexy.

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