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The pitfalls of pursuing measurement perfection

3 min read

Brands & Campaigns

In a world where there seems to be a new channel for communicating with customers every time you turn around, there’s an increasing problem of “perfection paralysis.”

With so many new channels popping up, some brands are unsure how to measure their performance or understand how they stack up against competitors. Perfection paralysis sets in when they spend months trying to create flawless benchmarks and KPIs, putting together complex multivariable analyses and tweaking (and retweaking) their methodologies to account for every possible scenario. When they eventually run an analysis, or try to utilize their “perfect” algorithm, these brands often find that the results either don’t spit out a succinct story or tell no story at all. Their months of work have added up to nothing, and they’re left confused and discouraged, with no clear sense of where to go next.

Then there are other brands who are comfortable with the fact that their toolbox might not be “perfect.” They understand the value of speed and agility in an intensely competitive landscape. They are constantly improving their toolbox as it provides them with actionable insights along the way. They have benchmarks and KPIs, and they’re steadily refining the methods behind them so that they can provide even greater value. This incremental approach to benchmarking and KPI development allows them to tell the story around their brand while nascent channels take shape.

The truth is that tools that purport to have the perfect solution are only fooling themselves. Waiting for for the “perfect” solution is causing brands to miss a chance to evaluate their performance right now. Using methodologies that you know will need to be tweaked may sound counterintuitive — sort of like trying to fix a train as it’s hurtling down the track — but just because you can’t get something perfect the first time around doesn’t mean you can’t use it to start making meaningful decisions.

In fact, the best way to make your benchmarks better is to actually use them and test them in the marketplace. As they say, “the perfect is the enemy of the good,” and brands that paralyze themselves by looking for perfection are denying themselves insights that can help them make quick and agile decisions.

Jonathan Farb is the chief product officer at ListenFirst Media, a company that helps brands make sense of the vast amount of data at their fingertips, predict outcomes and optimize performance.