DALLAS - DEC 14: Taken in Texas Stadium on Sunday December 14 2008. Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo waits for the snap from the center.

Back in 2009 Bill Belichick said, “Stats are for losers, final scores are for winners”.  A few weeks ago, the New York Football Giants head coach Ben McAdoo caused a bit of a dust-up when he said the same thing when questioned about the lack of sacks from his very expensive defensive line.  With Belichick’s career winning percentage hovering around .670 and the Giants currently on a 5-game winning streak, maybe we should take notice of what these men are saying and apply this same thinking to Marketing and Marketing Automation Key Performance Indicators (KPI).

The fallacy of the Marketing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

In the game of American Football, there are lots of statistics that pundits look at when trying to predict who might win any game.  One of the key indicators is turn overs, sometimes expressed as the give-away/take-away ratio.  For those not familiar game, it is the number of times the offence gives up the ball via a fumble or interception, compared to the number of times the defense takes the ball from the opposing offence by recovering their fumbles or by intercepting their passes.

The common wisdom is that teams that give up the football lose games, teams that take away the football win games and win Super Bowls. While these stats are a few season out of date, in the first 47 Super Bowls, the winners gave the football away an average of 28 times a season, but their defense took the football away a shade under 37 times a season.   That’s +9 on the take-aways.


However, six Super Bowl champions gave away the ball more than they took it away.  For them it didn’t really matter how many times they gave away the ball, because they still won the games.

I see Marketing Key Performance Indicators much the same way.  If revenue is up, nobody (but you) cares about KPIs.  If revenue is down, everyone looks at them.  At one company where I worked, every marketing KPI we looked at was great, but the revenue wasn’t there.  When it came time for reviews, I thought it was very clear that the fault was with other departments, since marketing had great KPIs.  However it was this head of marketing that got that ax.

Measuring your KPIs is important to you when running your department.  They mean little to everyone else.  That is why at the end of the day we have to be able to tie our marketing efforts to revenue.

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