Did you know that when coal miners went to work, they were never alone?

The miners would bring a yellow canary with them, for companionship (well kinda).  If the canary died, they would get the hell out of dodge as the silent killer – carbon monoxide – was sure to be a looming nearby in the coal mine (Wikipedia).

So as a marketer how do you avoid the silent killer looming around the corner?  Ooooo… look out for next ad-blocker technology! Google Panda now has Google Puppy and Google Monkey is about too pounce.  You get the picture.

My primary aim in this post is to impart some levity on the notion that we spend too much time boiling the big ole ocean of data to only find out what we knew from the get go.  I’m not trying to discount the importance of analyzing data (heck, I’ve written a few posts about this very topic: Big Data and Attribution), but it’s mission critical for the sake of choking on carbon monoxide that we have a tell-tale warning when trouble is lurking.

Marketers-What is Your Yellow CanaryHere are a few yellow canaries you may want to pick up at the local pet shop (i.e. early warnings your business is in trouble):

  • Same store sales (both the top 10% and bottom 10%)
  • # of employee sick days
  • # of email sent after 6PM (local time)
  • # of invoice disputes (yes, we all know the feeling when an invoice is disputed)
  • Rolling AR over 90 days
  • A sustained drop in your Net promoter score (cheating a little on this one)

Note, I’m not saying anything about the typical data points I hear in meetings… such as a Facebook content share rate, Instagram engagement rate, etc… because I think they are too silo’d (and out of your direct control) to tell you when trouble is looming.

As the late Albert Einstein said:

‘The only source of knowledge is experience.’ 

By having experience, you get the good fortune of learning what works, what kinda works and what does not work at all!  So get out there and create knowledge.  Use this knowledge to make smart decisions while embracing technology as an enabler for positive growth.  It may seem a bit complex and challenging at times… but perhaps having a bird in the office will help you to simplify.