Honey Copy

Articles.

Riffs on marketing, writing, creativity and life ––

Fuck your marketing metrics.

Today, folks aren’t addicted to sex, money or drugs.

But, productivity.

And, I’d argue the worst of these addicts are marketers (specifically the self-proclaimed growth hackers).

I’m not entirely sure where the hell it all started…

Though, if you held a gun to my head demanding an answer, using your most menacing voice… I’d probably point to Tim Ferriss’s book, The 4-hour Work Week.

Side note: I’m not knocking the book, but rather how folks perceived it, Tim’s orange solopreneur bible ultimately gave me the courage to quit my job at a small advertising agency and become a full-time writer.

In fact, it might not be entirely fair to blame it all (or any of it) on him… my apologies, Timothy.

I guess what I’m saying is that sometime within the last decade, Americans developed an unhealthy obsession with measuring everything and figuring out a way to do it better, faster, stronger, etc.

How was your day?

In twenty-nineteen, when you ask someone how their day was, rarely do they say “good” or “bad” but instead, they respond with “productive” or “unproductive”.

I’m poking a stick at a much larger cultural issue here, but people have begun measuring their value, worth and existence in terms of productivity –– an absurd ambiguous metric created in one’s own head.

And, as we’ve strived for greater productivity, we’ve lost, in my opinion, a great deal of presence, happiness and the many beautiful things that make us human –– warm conversations free of screens, doing activities for the sake of enjoyment rather than performance (or documentation) and simply the leisure of getting lost in a vinyl or a good book without the interruption of a dozen dings and buzzes reminding us that our time would be better spent elsewhere.

Which speaking of the latter, the productivity epidemic has only been made matters worse as brands have popped up practically overnight to cater to this addiction.

The best example I can think of is a company called Blinkist (I’m not linking to them for a reason). They’re a fucked up company that makes a living crunching books down into fifteen minute bite-sized summaries.

I can’t hate them.

Not entirely.

They’re simply giving the market what it wants –– a more productive way to read.

But, with it, they’re costing us one of the most stunning aspects of being human and that’s getting lost in a book… getting lost in art.

Perhaps, they should make admiring the Mona Lisa more productive.

I apologize for the tangent.

Now, where was I?

Oh yes.

As I mentioned earlier… marketers (specifically the self-proclaimed growth hackers) seem to be the worst of the productivity addicts.

And, this is beginning to shine through in the data-heavy cookie-cutter marketing and advertising they’re spewing out.

Besides being as boring as a snail race, there are a couple of major issues I see with brands overly reliant on marketing metrics…

Firstly, they view customers as numbers rather than living breathing human beings and their marketing, style and copy begin to reflect this… taking on a horribly stale tone.

And, secondly, they allow their metrics to hinder their creativity and courage to do something audacious for the fear that it will “hurt the metrics” or worst yet, be unmeasurable.

Yet, marketing and advertising history has proven, time and time again, that the winnings go to those creative and courageous, not to those with the fanciest measuring sticks.

Choosing magic over metrics.

No. I would never tell a brand to throw their marketing metrics by the wayside.

(With my email newsletters, Sticky Notes and Stranger Than Fiction, I’m very aware of the open rates and the click-through rates).

However, I would recommend a brand follow their intuition as often, if not more often… than their metrics.

John Hegarty, the iconic co-founder and creative director of BBH in London, was once tasked with turning Audi’s dilapidated brand around.

At the time, the car company was viewed as being dull, uninspiring, unexciting and appealing to an older demographic.

But, that was all about to change…

Vorsprung durch Technik.

Hegarty took a trip over to Germany to visit Audi’s factory in Ingolstadt and saw an old faded sign with the words… Vorsprung durch Technik.

Knowing that most folks were unaware at the time that Audis were made in Germany and recognizing it could be a unique selling point, Hegarty’s team did something all their research and feedback told them not to do, they created a slogan…

As they say in Germany: Vorsprung durch Technik.

And, with it, an advertising campaign that not only turned around the fate of Audi, but shown a new light on Germany, transforming it into a global powerhouse in quality, efficiency, progress and technology.

The English translation?

Progress through technology.

(No, the irony is not lost on me).

Away luggage is another example of a brand that followed their intuition to craft and sell 2,000 gorgeous coffee table books at $225 a pop that went on to sell $450,000 worth of suitcases they didn’t have in stock at the time.

And, you can’t tell me when Dollar Shave Club created the hugely entertaining viral video, Our blades are fucking great, they made the decision based off fucking metrics…

To me, marketing and advertising are certainly more of a creative and intuitive endeavor rather than a science, and when we seek to measure it, we’re in a way fucking with this magic.

Don’t go in blindly. However, don’t allow yourself to be blinded by metrics, either.

It’s not unlike life –– a little bit of heightened productivity here and there is never a bad thing –– but too much can remove the magic that makes us human. 

But, I digress.

By Cole Schafer.


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Cole Schafer