Doing The Accounting

Once in a while, someone will ask “How did we do?”  In one of my past lives, one would hear responses like “the media plan delivered X number of GRP’s at Y CPM ” but rarely about how it impacted sales.  There seemed to be a disconnect between the spreadsheet on the Media Director’s desk at the agency and the one on the Chief Revenue Officer’s desk at the client.  Every so often, a forward-thinking client would try to get everyone in the media and marketing chain to be accountable, but the fact that so much of the media world was estimates – ratings, attention levels, commercial effectiveness – it was almost impossible to say if a pop in sales was due to fabulous creative, brilliant media strategy, or just dumb luck.

We all need to be accountable.  It’s something we tell our kids (“actions have consequences!”) but is also something we often let slide.  “The operation was a success but the patient died.”  My belief is that a good deal of why we’re in a recession is due to a series of decisions for which no one was held accountable and for which there were no immediate consequences.

Politicians, bankers, and financial executives made these decisions.  Frankly, the argument that companies like Merrill had to pay bonuses to retain their best people doesn’t wash.  First of all, if their “best people” produced financial results such as those they reported, it might be time for new “best” people.  Secondly, given the triage being conducted on Wall Street, exactly where are these folks going to go?  Now that you and I as taxpayers OWN a good chunk of these irresponsible obfuscators, we need to hold them accountable.

How many of the people currently in Congress were also there, and took no action, when the very predictable (and not just in hindsight) irresponsible system of controls (or lack thereof) was put in place?  Who is putting their hand in the air to say “I shouldn’t be re-elected since we screwed up and were asleep at the switch”?  I do a lot of reading and I have yet to read anything like that!

Many of my clients wrestle with their web analytics.  Those reporting systems aren’t perfect either but they’re more perfect than the metrics of older media, which are changing for the better as well.  The important thing is that most of the time they’re trying to be more precise, more measurable, more accountable.

Are you letting people or organizations slide?  Why?

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Filed under Consulting, Reality checks, Thinking Aloud

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