Friday, February 3, 2012

Measure dollars, not ‘likes’

When Sun Valley City Councilman Bob Youngman asked the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance for "metrics," he asked it to prove that it's fulfilling its mandate to supply marketing that brings visitors to town and improves business.

Trying to make marketing a science is a quixotic quest at best.

Culture, taste and human behavior, unlike the mass or velocity of an object, are not entirely predictable. Stimulus doesn't always beget response and sometimes it produces no response at all. What goes up doesn't always come down in the world of advertising.

That's frustrating for people who see the world in black and white and tolerate no shades of gray.

The Marketing Alliance's job is difficult at best. It's trying to succeed in a bad national economy in an isolated area that hasn't spent enough on marketing for decades.

That said, the number of "likes" on the alliance's Facebook page and the fact that Sun Valley got more of them than Aspen don't mean a thing. Aspen still gets more business because it invested big bucks in marketing and big events over the past three decades, leaving the Sun Valley area to play catch-up.

For Youngman, the "metrics" he wants are measurements that already exist: local-option sales tax collections and flows at the Sun Valley sewer plant. More money and more effluent will mean business is growing.

The city has years of data, but the issue isn't data. It's a decades-long malaise that can't be cured overnight with stingy doses of marketing. No amount of data will ever cure that.

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