Using Data to Transform Your Business (and your waistline)

Posted on: January 8, 2013

During the course of a typical week at Blue Corona, I interact with anywhere from a dozen to more than a hundred business owners. Virtually all of my conversations are centered around advertising, marketing, analytics, the Internet, and maximizing organic growth. The common thread in these conversations, no matter the company size or industry, is a lack of accurate data with respect to the performance and return on investment of each and every advertising and marketing strategy.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The single biggest mistake business owners make is failing to accurately measure and track their advertising and marketing investments.

If you don’t track things accurately, you’re forced to rely on gut intuition and, when it comes to advertising and marketing, your intuition just plain stinks. Gut feelings lead even smart business owners to make stupid decisions—grossly, yet unknowingly, over investing in some strategies while overlooking or under-investing in other worthy strategies.

Intellectually, most business owners know that they can improve their performance with better data. So why don’t they track things in more detail? When asked, most cite time—they don’t have the time required to track things in more detail (and apparently they are unwilling to pay someone like Blue Corona a few bucks to do it for them).

So they’ll waste hours in advertising sales meetings that could be avoided altogether and waste thousands on ineffective marketing channels, but they don’t have the time or budget to track things? It makes no sense at all. I wonder if this trend would continue if the average analyst were as good looking at your typical advertising sales rep? Unlikely.

I’ll credit myself for recognizing (early) the power data can have to transform a business.

I track every single advertising and marketing strategy I employ. Every phone lead and web form is attributed back to the advertising/marketing source. I’ve got first-click attribution models set up as well as last-click attribution models—so I can analyze my results from different perspectives. I know exactly what I’m willing (and can afford) to pay to acquire a new client, as well as what I’m willing to pay for a lead and to get a new visitor to any of my websites.

Blue Corona’s success is, in no small part, due to this data-driven mentality.

Unfortunately, while I’ve used data to transform my business and my clients businesses, I’ve dropped the ball in my personal life. Running a fast-growing internet marketing agency is a lot of work. As the company has grown, so has my waistline. In 2007, when I started Blue Corona, I was a svelte 6′ and 170 lbs. Today, I’m pushing 220 lbs! As my weight has climbed, my energy levels have tanked. I’ve countered this with massive amounts of coffee and sugar—healthy, I know.

This past week, I decide it is time to change. I’ve got little kids who  are just getting to the age where they are watching my every move … always watching … always judging. I want to set a good example for them and be alive to see them get married! My goal is to get down to 175lbs by July 1, 2013 (just in time for my birthday).

How am I going to do it?

Using data, of course! I’m going to count and track the calories I consume using

I love watching people estimate how many calories are in a particular food item. They’re right about as often as the typical business owner is about his/her web visit-to-lead conversion rates. I’m no different. I routinely underestimate how many calories are in the meals I eat, and as a result, my weight continues to climb. It’s really not that hard to count and track your calories—especially with a mobile app like Loseit, where you can scan and automatically look up many of the foods you eat.

I’ve also started doing the 5:2 diet (not for the weight loss, but to test the health benefits). Later this week, I’m going to the doctor to have bloodwork done to get all my baseline stats. Seeing exactly where you are—in business or in life—can be a scary thing. Accountability is hard, but lying to yourself isn’t going to help you transform your business or your life. You only get one shot at this game—play to win and do it right.

Maybe I’ll post a picture or two detailing my progress?  Then again, maybe I won’t!

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