marketing photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Wish I knew this when I Started in Marketing: Always Focus on Measures of Outcome

All that matters is the business outcome. Sales are the ultimate KPI.

To grow brands or services, you must generate sales; there is no other way. For any choice to optimize your marketing plans, better use sales outcome as it is the best KPI, which correlates to your ultimate growth trajectory. If you focus your efforts on analyzing what drove a sale, you are on your way to making better marketing decisions. On top of this, sales outcome is the only KPI that can inform your future budget allocation when translated to Return on Investment. You might assume this is common sense, but it isn’t really in our industries? We often confuse Real Sales with various upper funnel metrics of Purchase Intent or Purchase Propensity, or in the online space, we use Click-to-Basket or even Click-through as Sales. Unless the transaction has taken place, unless the currency is exchanged for the product, you can’t say that’s a sale.

The alternative?

Purchase Intent is, unfortunately, still a long old best friend for the Marketing Research industry and its practitioner. Why? It’s easy to acquire via consumer surveys, immensely facilitated by new digital technologies and offered for free by your media partners. Anyone can easily set up a questionnaire on YouTube or Facebook Advertising and think you can do real research. But can you trust that research? Just ask 100 people if they’ll buy your brand; think what the incentive for them to say no is? Is their response telling something about their status in society? Research has shown you are more inclined to say, “YES, I will buy a Porsche than saying YES to buying a cheaper Renault”). Is their response more likely to be the exact first option in the survey? Is their response conscious at that time but utterly unrelated to what their brain and emotions will guide the act of purchase at a later date? The answer to all those questions is YES. Future purchase intent questionnaires are genuinely biased and should be banned from any research that informs a marketing outcome and future decision. I prefer to have 10 Real Sales studies to 10.000 flawed “almost-sales-studies” of Purchase Intent.

Yes, and …

It’s not always easy to capture Sales, yet no one said it was. It’s tougher if you play in CPG vs. a pure-play Direct 2 Consumer brand. It’s tougher if you rely on third-party data, but not impossible. Mars is proof that an obsession with measuring sales is healthy and doesn’t limit your learning ability. The closer you can get to personal level sales, the better decisions you can make. You can only attribute growth effects to penetration if you have personal level sales. Aggregation to the store level, geographic region, or even country dilutes the noise and raises experimental design requirements.

Did you measure sales today?



Once upon a time, a curious engineer became a marketer, with a big passion to understand how people think and act.

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Sorin Patilinet

Once upon a time, a curious engineer became a marketer, with a big passion to understand how people think and act.