Want to hear something that will truly make you measurement mavens cringe?
Before I started out on my own, I never focused hard enough on measuring PR outcomes. Instead I fed off of praise for article placement and high-profile coverage, and high-fives for increases in social media followers.
I did, of course, produce monthly reports, but they never needed to drive towards any real goal – perhaps because the main goal was “media attention.”
It seemed to satisfy the leadership, and frankly it was all I could handle at that point in my career.
I know, I know.
And, when I decided to launch my consulting practice in 2014, I initially measured success by how many clients I had (I launched with two) and how much money I was bringing in (I was above water). It seemed to be working A-OK for me.
I kept a pretty good pace for the first year, and then it hit me one day. I didn’t want to only spend my days billing out client work, I needed something more creative to feed my soul and scale my business.
I wanted to continue to earn passive income for products I had built, instead of sacrificing the sweet sunshine day-in and day-out in front of a computer.
So I began to research new trends in marketing and discovered that I could pair a topic I was speaking on more frequently, starting a consulting business, with an emerging platform, online courses.
As a lifelong learner, I became enamored with online courses and webinars a few years back as a way to expand both my professional and personal development (hello, cooking tutorials, calligraphy class, and TED Talks).
So, I bought the course software and set myself up for straight-to-stardom success.
And then I came crashing right back down to earth.
HOW WAS I GOING TO SELL THIS THING? WHO WAS I GOING TO SELL IT TO?
Outside of a pretty prosperous lemonade stand in the early 90s, the inclination to “sell” had always given me the creeps. Don’t ask me why, considering the profession I chose. Oh ya, and then I got pregnant (happily, blessedly, and we couldn’t be more excited). But now I was on a countdown.
Are ya with me? Cue freak out.
I (smartly, I might say) hired Shonali Burke to whip my butt into gear, convince me to take measurement seriously and to get all social with the promotion – of which, she said, I had boatloads to do (she actually said something else, but WUL is a family-friend blog).
First, we had to understand what we were measuring.
In my condensed timeline, focusing on my email list became critical to help me amass an audience in which to build community and eventually sell to. I first had to provide something of value in exchange for information.
I created a lead magnet for my course in the form of a Checklist and Cheat Sheet. I would then promote it on my blog posts, through social media (Twitter, Pinterest), on my email signature line (by the way, check out this free tool from Hootsuite), via guest posts on influencers websites, and basically every time I opened my mouth.
[Side note: do you know how damn important an email list is? Apparently it’s tops, and I’d been neglecting it for ages. Sigh.]
The measurable goal would be to monitor list sign-ups – where I would send monthly emails providing status updates on the course, treats (currently gifting some delicious mini photo packs); and weekly emails sharing recent blog posts. Hey – if any of that interests you, please sign up!
I thought of how many traffic drivers I then had for this lead magnet and created a simple (and EASILY adaptable) matrix to keep me on-task with the content I was producing, and how it was all driving towards this one goal.
My course, The Savvy Soloist: Your Seven Steps to Launching a Service-Based Consultancy, has since launched, and in the days leading up to it, and since I’ve been closely monitoring the progress of sign-ups.
Understanding how different content and efforts have yielded sign-ups is critical to the overall success of how my product will launch. I now have a keen appreciation and respect for measurement as an art form, and will carry this new practice on with me for future clients and projects.
As Peter Drucker famously said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
Luckily, I’ve now got both down pat.
This article originally appeared on Shonali Burke Consulting.