Different Strokes For Different Folks

We now know more than we can understand. We know more than we can assimilate. It seems that the more facts we amass, the less meaning we can derive, and the less actionable decisions we can make. It seems to merely mimic the human condition that we know what is, but we know not why.

Back in 1994, upper management really needed to understand what the Internet was all about before they could determine what it meant for business. So many people were shouting about the New Economy (think sticky eyeballs and no business model) that it was tough for business managers to sufficiently understand the fundamentals to make investment decisions with any logic.

If you want to get across the incredible value of Web intelligence, here's what you need to explain to your boss, depending on what type of boss you have.

Type A: The corporate upper class, and those who prefer strategy to tactics

What to tell them: Why, not how



If you try to differentiate URL tags from page tags, their eyes will glaze over and they'll reach for their BlackBerries. Better to talk about the value of the resulting reports rather than how they are created. Do not explain clickpath analysis, cache file clearing or cookie deletion. Instead, explain how improved understanding will raise revenues, lower costs and increase customer satisfaction.


Type B: Division Managers in control of your project budget

What to tell them: The process, not the products

Making funding decisions require thorough knowledge about what's going to be done, who's going to do it, how long it'll take, what it's likely to cost and how much it's likely to earn or save. These people are not interested in the difference between client-side javascript tracking and third-party Web-beacon serving. They just want to know that you can deliver a specific result, when it's going to happen, and how you're going to ensure it.


Type C: Business-oriented department managers trying to use the resulting reports

What to tell them: What it means and what to think about it.

 Talented leaders blessed with a talented staff can take input from that staff at face value. They trust their people to have analyzed the data and made well-considered recommendations. They want your honest opinion based on your best efforts. They're desperate to know what changes to make to their portion of the Web site to reach their goals and they want you to save them from reading the graphs and charts your Web analytics tool spits out. Tell them what it means and what to think about it , and they'll thank you.


Type D: Technically oriented department managers trying to use the resulting reports

What to tell them: How it works, in gruesome detail, so they can make up their own minds.

Department managers who are more technically astute and less comfortable with how you came to your conclusions are high-maintenance misfortunes. They need the white paper, the book, the PowerPoint slides and the workshop to firmly grasp the intricacies of Web analytics so they can understand exactly how the reports were created and, therefore, what the data might mean. Let your vendors have some face time with your boss and then crank out the desired reports. Do not hesitate to offer up insights, but be sure to show exactly which bits and bytes you relied on for your opinion.


Type E: Technical managers

What to tell them: How it works, so they can determine the best technical solution.

Now it gets really sticky. You'll need to get your type Cs (Business-Oriented Department Managers) to clearly identify their goals so you can help your type Es (Technical Managers) figure out the best technical solution to capturing, analyzing and reporting Web site data. If you have some type Ds (Technically Oriented Department Managers) who are willing to work hand in hand with your type Es, there's a decent chance you'll be able to find a Web analytics tool/process that meets your needs, instead of waiting until after implementation to find out it does not.

So create your multi-layered PowerPoint stack that will tell the whole story. But then figure out to whom you are pitching, so you'll know which part of the story they need.

Yes, this does assume you know all of the above already.

What? You thought this was going to be easy?

1 comment about "Different Strokes For Different Folks".
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  1. Paul Van winkle from FUNCTION, April 10, 2009 at 12:42 p.m.

    Jim, fantastic -- and concise. Thanks for posting, uber-timely.

    One of my favorite books on the subject of Diff'rent Folks, and the operations of their diff'rent brains:
    Six Thinking Hats -- by the erudite Edward deBono

    Also well-described here:

    On the subject of giving the people what they want and can digest: I attended the MediaPost OMMA Behavioral conference, and while well-produced, some of the presenters there could have used your good insights. "It's about data, analysis and measurement, yes -- but it's really about the audience, not me. I'm just the messenger-poet-showman-delivery guy."

    Thanks for tightening it all up, be well.

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