(This is Part 2 in a short series on how to measure your marketing campaign’s success. You can check out Part 1 here.)

You have to talk to your customers and ask them how they found you. I’m going to repeat that because while it may seem obvious, we kind of suck at doing it. You have to talk to your customers. Full stop. And then, if you’re running some marketing or PR campaign, you have to ask those customers how they found you; Because your customers will tell you if they found you through whatever campaign you’re running. Getting people to share something they’re excited by is easy. You just have to make that effort and ask.

Sadly, for the MBAs and tech people, getting them to talk to their customers is like pulling teeth. They don’t want to do it, so they’ve come up with this excuse that I’m sure you’ve heard me mock over the years, “That doesn’t scale.” Fuck you. Talk to your customers.

And this is true, by the way, regardless of anything you’re trying to sell or how you try to sell it. Online. Offline. It doesn’t matter: You better be best friends with the first 100 people who buy your shit. And then the next 900? You have to make a good faith effort to get to know them; Even if it’s tangential like you have an event and they’re there, and you get some face time together. And then! Then you have to follow-up with them in some way. Get their mailing address, send them a postcard (thanks, Phil), give them a call, send them an email. Don’t try to sell them anything.

If it sounds like common sense, good! Then why aren’t you doing it? You’re going to hear me say this a lot: There is no secret to marketing. None. Just act like a person interacting with another person and leave aside all the other bullshit. It’s the same deal with sales. You know what the “trick” is to being a great salesman? Including the person, you’re trying to sell something to into the process Day 1 and empowering them to lead the charge within their organization going forward. Not you. Them. Nobody cares about you. You’re an outsider. But people very much are about themselves and what others think of themselves. So assuming your product isn’t shit, and the person within the organization you’re working with is leading the charge and advocating for it, the odds are much, much higher that the deal will close because it’s their reputation and credibility on the line. Not yours.

I’m not kidding when I talk about getting to know your first 1,000 fans well. If you make time to get to know three of them each day for one year, you’ll get to know all of them. And you shouldn’t stop at the first thousand either. As more come in, you should make an effort to get to know three of them each day. That’s your responsibility as someone trying to sell and promote something. You have to know who your customers are and learn everything you can about them. The better that you can do that, the better your marketing campaigns and offerings will be.

So, you have to talk to your customers and get to know them. AND you have to ask them these two important questions:

1. What can we do better?

2. How did you hear about us?

You WOULD NOT believe how little that second question gets asked. The first one is a no brainer. Of course, you’re going to ask that question because you should always be tweaking and looking for ways to improve what you’re doing. But that second question? It seems so simple, but it often gets forgotten.

Regardless of the industry. Regardless of the profession. Over the past four years, I have rarely encountered people and companies that ask their customer how they found them. And I don’t mean like in a survey. I mean the company CEO or owner, or whoever is running the marketing, personally reaching out to the customer and having that brief conversation with them that I’m talking about. And in that conversation, asking their customers how they discovered their company. It’s just not getting done. Usually for the lame excuse of, “That doesn’t scale.”

How do you know what you’re doing works regarding marketing, PR, and advertising? ASK YOUR CUSTOMER HOW THEY FOUND YOU!!!!

I don’t care that it doesn’t scale because if that’s your attitude, I’m afraid to ask you about your customer service. And if your customer service sucks? Forget it. Nothing you do is going to matter because your customers aren’t going to be advocating for you. It’s your responsibility to make it work.

You have to get out there and in person, talk to your customers whenever possible. You will learn so much. What works regarding reaching them, what doesn’t, what they think about your product, where they first learned about you. That information is gold, and if you’re looking for answers as to whether or not your initiatives are working, this is how you find out.

Customer Personas are nice, but they are not an acceptable substitute for the real deal.

But ultimately, the responsibility is yours. People like metrics because it’s easy. There’s less work involved than actually making an effort to talk to other people. I’m asking you to do something hard. Your customers will tell you if your marketing efforts are working. They’ll also tell you when they’re not working. But that’s hard to quantify, so we’ve let the wrong people, who get bent out of shape at the thought of any human interaction, mislead us and push us away from doing the obvious thing.

I believe there’s a simpler way to do this. One anyone can practice that’s practical and useful. And this is the way to do it. The online stuff? All those bullshit numbers and metrics? I’m not saying to dismiss these figures entirely, but I’ll take an actual person over a view any day of the week, and I hope I can convince you to do the same.

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