I talk to speakers and authors about metrics all the time. The message is simple enough: you need to know your numbers. Marcus Lemonis from CNBC’s “The Profit” has made that clear. But what number is important? And what number will really drive a positive change?
Wouldn’t it be great to have just one number to watch? If you watch that one thing and try to improve it, your business will grow. It’s almost a “magic number.” I believe such a number exists. Sadly, what my magic number is may be different from yours. And to make things worse, it may change over time.
When Kathi and I first started to turn her speaking gig from a fun hobby into a ministry and a business, we found ourselves thinking about back-of-room sales. I don’t want to over spiritualize here, but we really do believe that getting resources into people’s hands after the event is as important as the motivation and inspiration they receive during the event. And let’s not forget about the business side of things. Back-of-room sales are an income stream.
We started looking at one number: dollars sold at the back of room divided by the number of people at the event (dollars per person). One simple number. For each event, we would calculate this metric. And then we would try various things to see if we could improve it. Is it better to have price signs? How would “bundles” affect it? What about how we merchandise the table? How about how directly the merchandise is tied into the talk? How many different products should we offer?
One Simple Change
We would tinker with each of these things one at a time trying to find the right balance. But the one simple number of “dollars per person” would tell us if we were doing better or not.
Our results were staggering. By just paying attention to our one simple number we doubled and often quadrupled our dollars per person sales at the back of the room.
Before I sound too much like Scrooge McDuck, please remember that this represents a doubling or quadrupling of the potential ministry impact by getting those resources into people’s hands where it can have an impact long after the event is over.
Find Your Magic Number
Our business has grown and is a bit more complicated these days. But this is even more reason to pay attention to our numbers. Finding the right number for your specific situation is challenging. Here is a list for you to consider. Use these as inspiration to find your own magic number:
- Income per month, quarter, year— whatever makes sense (simple enough, you need that one for tax time)
- Facebook followers (I suspect you already know this one. Watch out though, this one is not necessarily tied very directly to the business’ bottom line.)
- Blog or newsletter subscribers. I like this one a bit more than Facebook followers. For most of us, our subscriber count more closely impacts our business.
- Sign up rates. I like this one for speakers, especially if you’re just getting started. What percentage of the room signed up for your newsletter? What can you tweak to improve that? If you pass around a sign-up sheet, what does that look like? Is there a sample already filled in? How do you mention it from the front?
- Click-through percentage on your newsletter or blog.
- Open rates for you emails. Watch your headlines and the first couple of sentences.
- Number of visitors to your web page
Pick One Simple Thing
But remember: start by picking ONE SIMPLE THING. And then work hard to try to improve that one simple thing. Don’t move on to another until you see an improvement in the “one thing.” After a while, monitoring the one simple thing will become just like breathing—you just do it automatically. And hopefully, you will see significant improvements over time.
Roger is a productivity and quality engineer for a Fortune 50 company.
He helps teams reach their full productivity potential by teaching them practical and simple steps to reach their goals. Roger and his wife, author Kathi Lipp, teach communicators how to share their message through social media and email marketing.
He and Kathi coauthored Happy Habits for Every Couple with Harvest House Publishers.