What cake can teach you about metrics

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What if you read a cake recipe that went like this?

1 inch of flour
1/4 inch of milk
1 inch of sugar
1/2 inch of butter
1/8 inch vanilla
1/2 inch of eggs

Mix all ingredients until they are 2 1/4 inches high. Put in an oven for 30 minutes and check with a ruler every 15 minutes to see if cake has reached a height of 2 1/2 inches. Remove from oven and serve.

It's the birthday cake!

What’s wrong here?

Baking a cake can’t be done in inches. It’s simply the wrong metric to use. Are inches and rulers valuable? Absolutely. Are they the right metric for every situation? Of course not.

Why is it, then, that we in marketing are all so insistent on one magical measure? We want just a Klout score or just an ROI, etc. The next time someone insists that they need a simplified, single dashboard metric of all your marketing performance, remind them that they are far more comfortable with 5-6 metrics (cups, teaspoons, inches, temperature, ounces, etc.) for a simple cake.

Your business is more complex than a cake. Treat it like one and measure it with metrics that are appropriate for each of your performance indicators.

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2 responses to “What cake can teach you about metrics”

  1. Whitney Hoffman Avatar
    Whitney Hoffman

    Even more interesting, there are no levening ingredients here, to help boost the height of the cake- something that’s ripe for even more metaphors.

    ie.  if you don’t put the right things in, you won’t even get cake!

  2. Hi Christopher! You have given a good message about the business by taking cake as small example. It is really nice to read.

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