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Posted by Sarah Brown on 08 May '18

Do you really know what is working?

Good leaders are action focused and have a sense of urgency, but it is critical that they have clear goals, track and measure the results achieved to ensure the action will take them forward.

One of our fundamental principles for a successful long-term business is to be action-focused in your leadership. But if you don’t know whether the action is working, you might as well do nothing.

There are 4 steps which will ensure the action which you take achieves results. I will use marketing as an example as I think it is one of the areas where I most often see this going wrong.

1 Have a clear goal

Knowing what you want to achieve and setting quantifiable targets to measure against is critical. Otherwise, what will you be measuring? Often, I’ll meet people who say they know they need to be doing more social media, but generally they don’t have a clear goal about what they want to achieve. When I was working with a large computer firm we identified the messages we wanted to get to different target markets as part of a PR campaign. Like many expensive and complex sales we could not expect to relate any PR activity to a sale directly but we did have clear goals about communicating with people who might buy and influence purchase.

2 Track what you are doing

To know what is working you need to know what has been done so it is important to track activity on a calendar on which you can also track results. Particularly with social media this is not always done, people message and tweet on an ad hoc basis as it occurs to them and don’t keep track of the activity. When Trump was using social media to help him get elected he tested 1000’s of different messages, audiences and times to ensure he maximised his impact. This is only possible if you know when you do things and keep a record.

3 Measure your results

If you have clear goals you can measure whether you have achieved them. We have a clear goal for inspire2aspire social media activity, to get people to our website and to get sign ups to our newsletter and the information we send out. We track click-throughs, time on the site, tool downloads and sign-ups. We can trace what activity created the results or if people just arrived on our website by organic search. We do blogs like this to encourage people to visit our site and we can correlate visitor levels with blog activity and when we have a gap that visitors are reduced.

4 Adjust your actions based on results

This is where the skill comes, because you need to test each element logically, one at a time to identify what to adjust. It is easy to do a split test on headlines sending out two different ones and then identifying which gets the better open rate or click through rate, whatever is your goal. Similarly, you can test days of the week, times of day, calls to action etc. The UK cycling team became the best in the world winning multiple gold medals by making incremental changes and these small changes all multiplied to create huge results.

All business is about achieving more either to increase profits or reduce the time needed or to keep up with the competition and in every area these are the four steps you need to ensure you are taking the action which will achieve your results.

If you enjoyed this you may like to read

Scary facts about teams – think football

How to win friends and influence people

How a clear purpose can even create success in a difficult market

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Tags: goal setting focus on action leadership