I have no idea how old you are, but I am this old… Do you remember TV Magic Cards?
Marshall Brodine was a famous magician (and he was the clown Wizzo on the Bozo Circus Show) who lived in Geneva, Illinois (close to where we lived in Aurora). I was enamored with those cards and remembered the commercials on TV. I eventually convinced my parents to drop $2 and buy me a set.
The trick was simple (watch the video). 1/2 of the cards were shorter than the others. The Ace of Spades was placed as every other card. When you flipped through, only half the cards would show. The commercial made it look so easy. It was cool, but I never really mastered the concept.
That did not stop me from wanting and buying more tricks to try to master magic.
Magic often relies on distraction (or look over here) while the magician does something behind the scenes to change the outcome. It's a skill that can be taught, but as with most entertainment, it requires practice, and personality to become good and successful at it.
It has been said (by a very wise marketer) that, “98.67% of statistics are made up to benefit the statistician, and 63.2% are made up on the spot.”
Having been in marketing for over 40 years, I have seen fads come and go. QR Codes were going to replace print marketing. Apps were going to replace websites. CDs were going to replace Vinyl. In 2021, vinyl sales topped CDs in the US for the first time in 30 years. In 2022 that gap has grown with vinyl sales growing and CDs in a rapid decline.
Social Media Managers will tell you that increased likes lead to increased sales. They measure engagement. SEO experts will tell you that increased traffic leads to increased sales. They measure website hits.
People get excited about graphs. Graphs going up are good. Graphs going down are bad. However, graphs are data. Data is raw and unfiltered until it's processed and displayed. How that data is collected, filtered, and displayed, can be made to prove or disprove a theory or concept. So be careful and pay attention to what and how you measure data and what is being displayed.
The key question I have to ask you is what data are you measuring. I can tell you from experience that engagement and hits are exciting, but marketing is fueled and funded by sales. If engagement and hits graphs are on the rise and sales are on the rise, that's great. But, can you connect the dots between the two or is it just an optical illusion?
Social Media measures engagement and the platforms know that. How do they increase that? Notifications tell you when people react (👍 or ❤️) or comment on your posts and get you to go look and possibly comment back. Also the more engagement you get the more social media companies will show your stuff. That creates the desire to get more engagement.
I have to admit that I fall prey to that vicious cycle. I will go back and look at notifications, and the bigger the number, the more I feel I need to click and look at who liked and commented. Social media companies know that more engagement leads to more ads being shown, and more impressions equal more money for them.
Google gives you the ability to create more hits by providing data and feedback on hits. More hits equal more engagement. When you dig deep into the data, the most hits from organic search (people searching for your content) will spend between 1 to 10 seconds on your website. People cannot do much on your website in 10 seconds, yet we feel good when we see that big number. So you certainly want to improve Search Engine Optimization.
Like social media, more searches equal more ads being seen. So it's in Google's best interest to focus on search and give you a tool to encourage you to increase searches to your website.
Sometimes, what Social Media and SEO will do is distract you from measuring what really matters… SALES!
What you really should be measuring is not how many people, engagements, and clicks you attract, but WHO they attract. If those things are leading to relationships and real honest conversations, then you're focusing on what really matters to your business… SALES.
- “Who buys from you and how do we attract more of them?”
In other words – you are not trying to attract people, you are trying to attract buyers. Before you say, “Thank You Captain Obvious”, read on.
- “How many people need to buy to make this successful?”
In other words – many companies would like to have conversations with 30 people and make 3 new sales.
- “How can you keep the people you've had conversations with engaged until they become customers?”
In other words – what information did you gather during the conversation that would keep them consuming your content?
- “How do we measure success?”
In other words – the most important marketing data point is Cost per Acquisition. What is the ratio between marketing expense to sales profits?
Don't fall for the sleight of hand trick that is trying to convince you that more engagement and more clicks lead to more sales. The bottom line here is it's not quantity it's quality that needs to be measured.
I want to leave you with another magic trick that people use to see if you could become their customer. It's the “CONVERSATION TRICK!”
People who want to connect to sell you will often employ the mutual connection trick. When someone wants to connect with me on LinkedIn, I often look at how many mutual connections we have and who those connections are. If we have quality connections in common I will often bite at the bait. Then I watch for the 3-Point turn. What's that? They will send you three messages.
- “Thanks for the connection. I look forward to getting to know you better.” Then in a couple of days…
- They engage with some of your content and say, “I am loving what you are posting and have to say!” Then they wait… and go for the kill shot…
- “So how is business?” or “What are you working on these days?” or the straight-on PITCH, “I see you do (insert what you do here) and I would love to have a conversation to see how we can help each other?”
I hate to break it to you but they could care less about getting to know you and only care about IF and HOW they can SELL you (or get a referral from you). When that happens I say, “No Thanks,” and un-connect. They generally won't engage with your content anymore. If you stay connected, they will be waiting in the wings until they learn a new trick and try it on you again.
In business (as in magic), always keep your eyes on the hands of the performer and not what they want you to focus on (that's the distraction). That way, their sleight of hand will not end up with your pocket getting picked!
“We must be careful not to confuse data with the abstractions we use to analyze them.”
– William James.
Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about statistics, data, engagement, hits, or your favorite magic trick!
To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast