These Are NOT the Numbers You Seek

By Lee Collins •  Updated: 04/10/17 •  4 min read
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There is rarely truly an “average” across an entire industry that can be accurately quoted to a client.

There. I said it.

It’s all speculation until you gather the data for that particular campaign. Then with that baseline data, you can extrapolate a model that can show anticipated growth based on that baseline/control. That’s Marketing 101.

But if you provide marketing or business consulting services to clients… you will be pressed, prodded and pushed at the beginning of any client/consultant relationship to give folks numbers. “If you know what you’re doing you’ll know the numbers.”

I urge you to do your level best to avoid this as it really is never necessary because it is a trap.

The Numbers Trap

Here’s what happens if one succumbs to providing any kind of numbers to a client based on what you as a marketing professional should know in advance is a “best guess” scenario.

In almost two decades it has played out exactly one of two ways in every case I have ever witnessed:

Scenario 1: The individual campaign does better than your guess.

“This is great but since we exceeded your numbers why didn’t we do better?” (Note the use of “your” numbers.)

Scenario 2: The marketing campaign does worse than your guess.

“I thought you told me we would do at least <XXX>?” (XXX being the numbers they mathematically concluded.)

And, even if in the beginning they reflect to you that they understand it is a guess, over time they will forget this part of the conversation and will instead focus on those numbers they wrote down and mathematically calculated outside of your purview, and in their eyes you then become responsible for their own extrapolations.

You don’t really want this to happen, do you?

Then stop giving numbers you know are a guess.

At worst, you are doing your client, yourself and all other consultants in your specialty a dis-service.

At best, it’s a no-win scenario based on interpretive guesses that has been disguised as “fact” by other people who claim to share the same space as you.

Don’t believe me? Pay close attention here…

I wonder if the image in this post looks familiar. It has been passed around by folks in the sales and marketing space as TRUTH for decades.

Problem is: this graphic is utter bullshit. There is and never has been an organization who published these numbers by the name of the “National Sales Executive Association”.

Look it up.

I have seen this exact image shared around the world by realtors, on stage, in professional sales books and manuals, on videos, in groups, and many more places.

Now, I will say it’s well presented and I will agree there is immense power in following up – I LOVE focusing on the follow-up where very few people actually play. There is some truth that following up more will present more of an opportunity for closing a sale.

“Follow Up or Die” I always say.

But these numbers will always be unique to your company, your offer, your message and your prospects. And you’ll never know what they really are until you test and establish a control. Period.

Do you want to take a guess as to how many of my clients and associates originally come to me aiming for and perhaps disappointed in the fact they aren’t meeting someone else’s imaginary benchmarks – without any actual testing of their own?

100 percent of them.

They come to me with talk of “normal/average” conversion rates or click cost or (heaven forbid) EPC’s…

What other numbers do you suppose are out there that you believe to be true, that you’re aiming for in your own business, that are nothing more than complete fucking fiction?

Lee Collins

Lee Collins is a former Air Force Network Systems Engineer and Fortune 500 Corporate VP - who is best known as an early pioneer of Direct Response Marketing on the Internet. He has over 24+ years experience running operations for multiple multi-million dollar marketing, software, SEO, financial, and business coaching companies. When Lee isn't helping his private clients solve big (and small) marketing and operations problems, Lee is most likely heading up into the mountains in his fully-equipped Jeep Gladiator. Or just gone fishing.