Starting “Don’t Get Me Started”
Submitting to popular acclaim—that being from my dry cleaner and barber, as well as my professional colleagues and employees—to share my wealth of insight, wisdom, and common sense that I have collected over my 30-plus years in medical marketing, I am joining the digital marketing blogosphere.
Entitled “Don’t Get Me Started,” my new blog originates from daily experience. Witnessing events, plans, conversations, and decisions frequently defy training, experience, and most importantly, gut instincts. Out of this bubbling glop of personal reactions comes the impulse to bring matters into account or into alignment or just to make sense of it. At such moments, I recall my father’s exasperated expression before he launched a long tirade: “Don’t get me started.”
Also in this blog, I will take the opportunity to share insights about people, the organization of people, and DMD’s business niche of digital marketing. I hold two qualifications to write this blog. Firstly, having worked early in my career with the criminally insane—in Philadelphia I might add—and with emotionally disturbed children, I feel eminently prepared to comment on today’s business organizations. Secondly, I am the president of DMD.
That being said, I quote the great, twentieth-century, modern philosopher, Jackie Gleason: “And away we go!”
Let me use the first of many “Don’t Get Me Started” entries to share one of my oh-so-favorite pet peeves: numbers, or specifically, the numbers we use to understand the world around us. In professional circles, we like to upgrade the appearance of these numbers by calling them “data” or “statistics.” Personally, between us, I hate “averages,” I loathe “rates,” and if someone dare uses the term, “mean,” I may suffer an allergic reaction. These terms are the last refuges of the unimaginative or unquestioning mind, unless—and this is a big unless—they are used in conjunction with their natural partners, which would be measures of variation.
Is not variation the spice of life? Would we be satisfied eating our favorite food, if it were the only food we could eat for the rest of our lives? No, we crave variation. Similarly, a description of events also craves variation. To present the average without sharing what is happening around that average is like eating Oreo cream without eating the cookie outsides. Now, we may in fact open up the Oreo and eat the cream first, but eventually we do get to those cookie outsides. It works the same with numbers: start with the average, but provide some idea of the variation around it.
In DMD’s business, clients are always asking us for our average email open rate, as if the answer to this question settles everything. The answer is five percent. So what? Wouldn’t you be more interested in learning about the programs that generated 20 percent, versus the ones that generated one percent?
The meaning of life, statistics, and medical marketing programs are to be found in variation. So, if you want to ask me a question about email program performance, ask me about variation too, or else you risk getting me started.