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October 16, 2009
Metrics, Metrics, Metrics

In a tough economy, employers want to know that they are going to get their money’s worth. Brilliant creative can often go out the window in favor of the tried and true, especially if the tried and true has a revenue history behind it. When pitching new business, therefore, it behooves you to know the numbers behind your executions.

If an ad campaign you’ve helped put together boosts incremental sales by a couple of percentage points, be sure to let your next prospective employer know. If you’re the best CRM person on the planet, and you can prove it with retention improvement figures, let them know. In fact, whatever you’re doing, somebody is measuring its effectiveness, so make sure they share the results with you.

That helps you in two ways. First, knowing whether your creative or your plans are working according to target or not helps you sharpen your skills. Learning to analyze where a campaign falls short can help to ensure that the next job will turn out better. Knowing that a creative challenge has exceeded expectations gives you better ammunition when you are pitching your next round of work. Second, whether you are a freelancer or looking for a permanent position, you should always be tailoring your portfolio to reflect your best work. Knowing the metrics of each job, and how well you met them, helps you put your best foot forward.

A good understanding of metrics can also get you better jobs and higher pay. When I was working as a journalist, I used to write a memo to my boss every year titled, “But what has he done for you lately?” I knew that any raise I was going to get was going to be based on what my editor thought of me within fifteen minutes of coming back from a boozy lunch. He wasn’t going to have some warm fuzzy feeling built up over a couple of years. Instead, he had his budget and head count numbers in front of him, and he was looking for ways to stay in the good graces of the publisher. If he was going to give me something, I had to give him something.

That something was the memo, where I listed how many stories, how many cover stories, and how many times I’d beaten the competition, which is the ultimate metric in journalism, since good stories that other magazines have to follow translate into more subscriptions and more newsstand sales, which made my publisher happy. If he was happy, then my editor was happy, and if he was happy and could justify it with a memo he could wave in the publisher’s face, I was happy, because I got the raise.

Better yet, I had defined my own metrics. I was being measured against what was important to me by aligning my interests with the interests of the publisher. It’s exactly that sort of strategy that will get you hired and keep you employed.

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Stephen Kindel is the Chief Operating Officer of The Bronx Project, a startup pharmaceutical company. He has had many jobs, written many books and hired many people over his career. His latest book, Skill Sets, is available by contacting him at

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