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Why Measuring Results Is Not Enough

PR has no value without gauging results — impacts, positive mentions, traffic, lead retrieval, brand predilection, tweets, likes, upvotes. And the list goes on and on.

We’re getting better at knowing how to quantify what works well and what doesn’t. CMOS, PR agencies, and brand managers are eventually speaking the similar language. Are things ideal? No, of course not. But we have a common framework to gauge success — and that is an important step forward.

But what happens after the outcomes are measured?

Campaign Results Are Only the Start

You might have accomplished your campaign goals. Perhaps your customer is satisfied than ever. But how did this action influence your team? Did it take longer than you had intended or estimated for? Was it useful? Did you have to turn down another task to hit crucial project milestones? Were your account execs pressured to work long, exhausting hours?

Sometimes, under the cover, a successful engagement determines to be quite the opposite.

Let’s assume you have a $12,000 monthly retainer with a new customer. You gave the agreed-upon results, but your team worked 120 hours a month with an approximate billing rate of $150 an hour. That implies you performed $18,000 of work but only earned $12,000.

In this scenario, does the retainer cover the costs of the workers performing the work? What is the average hourly rate — including healthcare, bonuses, retirement — that you’re paying your workers? And let’s not forget about the taxes. Yes, in this (entirely hypothetical) scenario; you might have made a customer happy, but you probably made your CFO cry.

Let’s look at this from a different angle: If your workers didn’t spend extra time working on behalf of this customer, would they have been able to bill time elsewhere? By working additional hours and over-servicing customers, your team is not only serving for free, but they are also restricting their potential to take on other, more profitable projects.

Increase Profitability by Reducing Over-Servicing

Neglecting the high price of over-servicing can be easy. For instance, say you are a well-run agency with 100 employees, and on average, each of your team members over-services about one hour per week. Just one hour! It looks so innocuous …

But with an average billing rate of $200/hour; over the course of the year, you would have given away one million dollars in free work.

One million dollars.

That’s why even a meager reduction in over-servicing can produce significant benefits and save your agency hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

And once you have a grasp on the cost of over-servicing, you can then make smarter decisions around whether or not you should strategically over-service an account. For example, some marquee clients may be worth a reduction in profitability, if it means keeping them as a reference or providing much-need revenue to your organization. Other projects may require significant ramp-up time, resulting in temporary over-servicing. Without careful monitoring of employee hours, there is no way to ensure that over time, over-servicing is reduced and costs are returning to normal.

Measuring Costs — Not Just Results

Just as your customers demand accurate metrics around campaign performance, you should have access to real-time project costs, employee utilization, employee availability, (including, of course, upcoming vacations and time off), and any other data to improve operations.

Again, your clients could be overjoyed with your service — the results could look unimaginable — but if you’re losing money in the process, why are you doing the work?

Alma Reed is an author and researcher dedicated to enhancing productivity. She is deeply interested in areas such as time management, increasing productivity, and fostering healthy routines. Through her writing, she aims to assist people in boosting their job performance and attaining an ideal balance between work and life.

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