I love metrics.  Always have.  I began doing consumer market research in college and I’ve never stopped.  So I am all over the innovative metrics that are available these days.  The whole new world of digital-based data – cost per click, bounce rates, conversion rates, likes, “people talking about you”.

But there is a lot this awesome new data can’t measure.  Fact: Much of our marketing budget goes toward investments that can be validated, but not immediately at the time of execution.  You can’t instantly measure the value of answering the phone, but that doesn’t mean you don’t answer it.

And do you really run a statistical analysis on your expected ROI before you write that check to the Boys and Girls Club?  What about the traditional advertising channels of TV, radio and print?  You can’t always get unfailingly reliable consumer engagement metrics from these forms of advertising, but that doesn’t mean they are not important options in the overall marketing mix.

Digital marketing and specific product promotion are immediately measurable because they have a call to action that is transactional and trackable.  The measures for advertising designed for brand development, market awareness and image building are not so immediate.  These objectives are achieved over time and evaluated through market studies that reveal an entirely different set of, but equally important, measures.

The “brand knowledge” that your brand occupies in the market is fundamental to your business.  So when is the last time you gauged the status that your brand holds in the marketplace?  Three measures to explore are brand awareness (accessibility of the brand in memory), brand recognition (ability to confirm exposure to your brand), and brand image (consumer perceptions of your brand).

You can generate these brand measures in a variety of ways.  Sure, some methods can be involved and somewhat complex.  But they don’t have to be.  You can take simple yet still reliable approaches.

Your survey mechanisms can range from mail questionnaires, online surveys, telephone polling, and focus groups.  You’ll ask questions like “Please name all the brands in (your industry category) you can think of” and “Do you remember having seen brands from the list provided within the last month?”  You’ll end up with results like “25% of consumers think of (your brand) when they are asked to provide a name in (your industry category).”

Explore hiring a research professional to help you with this work.  The cost does not have to be prohibitive.  Keep the scope of the project more limited to meet smaller budgets.  And if you’re having trouble convincing yourself to make the investment, consider how much you spend on marketing annually without really knowing for sure whether this money is well spent.  Brand measurement is a way of actually getting a clue.  A way to measure whether your advertising dollars are moving the needle for your brand in the market.

If you feel like you need to beef up your immediate metrics, by all means do it.  You are doing yourself a disservice if you are not improving your use of them.  But don’t let the lack of immediate data gratification keep you from taking some steps toward pursuing broader brand measures.  Otherwise, you’re just getting half the story.  And half the story is not enough to make decisions on which your success depends.