When You Are Growing a Business, Your Metrics of Credibility Count

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I’m interested in metrics mainly as a means to an end: to predict the future. Leading indicators, YES! Lagging indicators, who cares? That’s why I created a technology that produces teaming metrics, and predicts how people will interact in teams. It’s my mission in life now, but I never stop thinking about where new leading indicators might be lurking.

Credibility – especially business credibility – is a big interest of mine. You would probably expect it to be related to something I know about measuring, and sure, there’s a lot of overlap between credibility and the internal structure of a business team. But remember that business credibility has a lot of moving parts and many of those are moving outside the team’s sphere of influence. The economy, taxation, safety and environmental regulations, and everything Congress votes on – all of these can impact business outcomes and influence business credibility. So, what are the relevant metrics?

The first is market share, which is your percentage of the total sales in your vertical market. You may be big enough to have really BIG DATA on this, or perhaps you are a startup with microscopic market share, because most people have never heard of you. If that’s the case, maybe a different viewpoint on market share is needed. For many startups, it is more useful know how fast you are gaining ANY share of the market, so track the number of new customers you acquire each month. When someone commits to working with you, no matter how large or small they may be, it’s a confirmation of your credibility. The more customers, the more bits of credibility you have, so the more your credibility market share.

The second metric is mind share. It’s all about getting known, getting popular, getting famous (which is generally preferable to infamous, although that works too). An easy way for small firms to measure it is by counting up the audiences you reach though writing, speaking, and earned media. You can get a lot of supporting data from online tools like Google Analytics, Twitter stats, and Alexa.com for comparative website traffic. For big companies it’s vastly more detailed – but you already know that. The point is that as the numbers rise, so does your credibility, and you can see the results as you get more recommendations and more opportunities in new venues with new audiences.

Finally, the third metric: heart share. Now you won’t find this metric in the New York Times, or AdAge, or even in Wikipedia. But consider this: If someone’s heart is in your brand, they are doing a lot more than using it. They are thinking about it, talking about it, finding ways to increase its value, or all of the above. Ultimately, this is the most important metric, because it’s the one you can personally influence the most.

You do it by connecting.

Now when people talk about growing a metric, they often look at the cost, so be sure you take that under consideration. It does take time to connect (or reconnect) with people, and not everyone connects in the same way. Programming some tweets to blast a few times an hour may be efficient, but expect a very low probability of connection. Heartshare requires more than words.

I’ve been thinking about how people – especially those with start-ups – can grow their heartshare and, ultimately, their business credibility. And I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way is through accretion, or the gradual buildup that happens when there’s strong attraction at the core.

Instead of thinking about overall quantity, think instead about the quality of your innermost circle. How strong is the bond? Consider the people who are most attracted to and involved with whatever it is that you do. Do they really understand it? Embrace it? Love it?

For the moment, just concentrate on those who do. Forget about the ones who may say they love you, but don’t necessarily love your mission, your service, or your product. That’s what you are really about. (Sure, they may actually love you, but for our purposes, that’s not enough.)

The people who remain inside the circle are your heartshare team, and they are golden. Respect them, show them you value their attention, and keep them informed of what they need to do to keep the accretion process going.

The tighter you pull them in, the more tightly their connections will follow.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Janice
    I have never heard this term before but you have nailed it – sometimes called passion around a brand I really like this term much better because passion is all about the heart.

    You continue to dive deeper with great information – thanks

  2. Great term you have coined.

    The old adage that what gets measured gets done most certainly applies to what you term as credibility metrics.

    This can be done even for start ups as we did with partnerships and proving our value to sponsors that we can attract high quality people. Working with other values based organizations has also helped as we ensure a consistent, coherent message that reflects our values and beliefs.

    This is the first time though that I have heard this termed “credibility” metrics.

  3. Janice, you are so correct especially with your term Heart Share. Small business has the most to gain but hard to attain. Building that credibility, tugging at the Heart strings will be the primary factor in achieving a market share. I see the three areas as a good model for success. As such, the Team plays a strategic part to make it happen. So, as usual you and your team have the business puzzle in tow. Thanks for empowering us with your knowledge, your support and guiding individuals and companies to a means for success.

  4. Greg and Harry, it’s the first time I used the words credibility and metrics in the same time. It is so true that what gets measured gets done; I used to say, what’s measured is treasured.

    I treasure people who get together in teams and do what it takes to bring cool new things to the rest of us. (If you do, you’ll probably like this Customer Think piece: http://www.customerthink.com/blog/perfection_is_highly_overrated_how_about_just_being_you)

    Anything you can measure you can spread throughout your realm. Whether that’s heart or credibility or anything else positive, you’re making the world a better place to live. Thanks!

  5. ….mind and heart share represent the emotional connection to the brand, what I’ve been referring to as customer-brand bonding (actually a combination of brand passion and customer advocacy). This, along with the amount each buyer actually spends (and on what product or service) over time, is ‘customer share’; and this is a far more definitive way of evaluating how successful the enterprise’s marketing and communication initiatives are than just looking at what is classically defined as share of market. This is also why I so strongly favor beginning with flexible, granular, actionable performance metrics such as customer advocacy behavior:

    http://www.customerthink.com/blog/modeling_customer_behavior_what_works_what_doesnt_and_why_in_the_real_world

    http://www.customerthink.com/article/customer_advocacy_behavior_personal_brand_connection

  6. Both articles are enlightening as to how to do this on the larger scale. Thank you for citing them, Michael!

    One more thought. People talk about having brand evangelists. When I was just starting out, I realized that when your business-focused product gets evangelists at the C level of their organization, one is worth even more than ten (or more) ordinary evangelists. There are higher levels of credibility required to sell at that level. Believe it, I really do treasure my C-vangelists! But how would you put that not numbers?

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