As I sat by the fire this weekend in the woods with my family, I had plenty of time to idle well and think about a variety of things. Of course a lot of thinking was about the direction of my life, the company that I help run and the marketplace that I work and play in. It probably didn't hurt that I started and finished Grapevine: Why Buzz Was a Fad but Word of Mouth Is Forever by David Balter while sitting in those same woods and thus my brain was swarming around the ideas in the book. (BTW - it is a good read. I've been a BzzAgent for a while now so it was interesting to read even if it was a bit too heavy on the non stop stories for my tastes.)
As I sat and watched the fire burn down to a solid bed of coals I realized that more companies, agencies and individuals need to realize that it is harder and harder to measure the effectiveness of some campaigns because of the length of time it might take from a first impression to a sale.
As an example, several weeks ago I got invited by the team at Edelman to attend a Blogger Dinner with Air One. They were launching a new non-stop flight from Boston to Italy and thought it would be good to get together in the North End and tell local Bloggers about it. Of course the hope was that everyone that attended would get excited and run home and blog about it. I didn't. Somewhere on a spreadsheet I've got a blank space next to my name where they would have loved to put a URL.
But, as I sat there by that fire I got wondering about places that Laura and I could perhaps escape to next year for a special anniversary trip. I was cycling through various locations in my mind when I suddenly wondered how affordable it would be to go Italy. I instantly remembered Air One and them being a sort of Jet Blue for the Boston to Italy route. I hadn't thought about anywhere in Europe because of costs, but because I had been exposed to the brand it came back to me and I looked into it when I got home. (No Laura, I did not buy any tickets yet.)
It is impossible to measure that. Even if I were to buy the tickets and tell all my friends about the great time I had, how would you ever be able to tie that one night in Boston to the over all experience and sale unless I were to tell you about it? Not an easy thing to do.
The fire analogy is one that works. You build it, light it and then hope for the best. If you know what you are doing then the fire will burn long and warm and you've got to add wood to it or it will eventually burn out. I sat there for a long time just watching the logs slowly burn. It may have looked to some like nothing was going on, but I knew better.
This is what happens when you let my mind wander in the woods, unplugged from the world for a weekend. *grin*