I started this blog with the intent to provide 5 KPIs every marketing organization should measure in 2017 to be successful. After going through my list of 25 critical measures, I realized that selecting just 5 is quite organization-dependent. Trying to distill this list down to 5 universal metrics was a fruitless exercise.

So, I abandoned that path. Instead, I’m going to let you in on the secret methodology to hacking marketing.

Before I tell you what it is, let me give you some background. This approach is the foundation for effective prioritization and can be applied to any activity you currently manage. It provides an excellent framework for selecting what your team will – and won’t – do. Which may be two of the most critical decisions a leader must make. And as a framework, it allows you to exercise your unique leadership abilities to drive the greatest results for your organization.

It also provides an excellent framework when considering the KPIs you’ll focus on in 2017.

This methodology is called Meaningful and Manageable. At its simplest, meaningful means impactful and manageable means possible and advisable. Think of this methodology as binocular vision for management. You need both, working together, to get the full picture. For example, you’re in the middle of budgeting and trying to decide whether your organization should sponsor every industry webinar this year. It may be incredibly Meaningful (think of the frequency and reach!) but the budget and team simply can’t support that level of participation – it’s just not Manageable. Let’s explore how this applies to your KPI selection.


Meaningful means that having certain information will yield better decisions and/or potentially disruptive insights that will have a significant impact on your business. This takes a harder stance than need-to-have vs. nice-to-have and asks the question does this matter? Through this lens, information that will have no impact isn’t worth the effort to pursue. Just don’t do it. Your team will be thankful they can focus on the things that matter.

For example, measuring lead conversion rates for your different lead sources seems beneficial. You can shift budgets to the highest performing sources and drive more revenue. Hello bonus! But (there’s always one of those) if budgets are fixed – have any events coming up – or the political environment means resources are allocated based on negotiation ability, there’s little your organization can do with that information. So the likely impact is a frustrated team instead of a bigger top line.


Manageable means it is possible and advisable. If it’s possible, there are enough resources (or resources can be shifted) to support the effort and that it’s technically achievable. If it’s advisable, the effort to generate the information doesn’t outweigh the meaningful benefits.

Before I started consulting, I helped build a demand generation function in a multinational corporation. Our analyst was spending one week every month and an additional week each quarter – yes, over a quarter of her time – just generating the monthly and quarterly reports. And the reports were looked at once in a meeting and then largely ignored as they were mostly descriptive reports. Given the amount of effort put into these reports and the way they were used, we really had the cost/benefit ratio backwards. I’m happy to report the situation is significantly better there now and reporting is a largely automated activity.

These two concepts work in tandem. As metrics become more Meaningful, a larger amount of effort can be expended to measure them, raising the ceiling to some degree on Manageable. As the team improves its capabilities and reduces the effort to generate measures, the organization can broaden its definition of Meaningful.

Make 2017 Meaningful and Manageable

It’s a great time to step back and apply this methodology to your organization’s list of KPIs. Are these metrics actually going to drive the impact you need in 2017? Are there others that will have a greater impact? And how does the Manageable side of the equation look? Do you have resources tied up in generating meaningless information just because it’s always been done that way? Now’s your chance to open a dialogue with your peers and team to see how you stack up against the Meaningful and Manageable methodology.