What are your numbers?

In my first job I had seven numbers that were important to me; the circulations of the seven national newspapers in the UK. My boss would randomly quiz me and if I didn’t know them then I was in trouble.

These days the numbers that live in my head are very different, (things like Mazda’s monthly sales, and the Word team’s annual forecast) but my life is still ruled by a few numbers that I know off by heart.

If you had to write down the numbers that were important to you what would they be? Do you know them intimately and track them over time? Do you discuss them with your team or with clients?

Media agency folk probably have more of these important numbers than others. Most of our clients and media partners have just a few that are important to them (sales vs. forecast, category share, box office vs. expectations etc.) whereas we often need to know client numbers, internal numbers and media numbers.

But in an agency, I believe that the numbers are the key to a great relationship. Because once you know the numbers that are important to someone then you can genuinely connect with them.

Try starting a client conversation with, “6.5 was a good result this month, looks like the competitor’s campaign didn’t have much effect” or a media owner meeting with, “Good to see that your share is over 6 for the first time this year”.

You will be amazed how much people open up and discuss their business once you start talking their language.

The best business people I have met do this effortlessly, they seem to know the numbers before anyone else and always have an opinion on what they mean or what might be driving them. Clients know that these people genuinely care about their business and treat them as part of their team.

But none of this comes easily. Some people keep an updated list of their numbers on hand, some people set up alerts, some make it part of their routine.

Starting today I’m making it my new year’s resolution to track my numbers; I’m doing it old-school style with a post-it stuck to my computer. Every week I will update the numbers that are most important to me and have an opinion on what they mean.

So, what are your numbers?

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