In 1902, Hanoi had a big rat problem. So someone in power came up with a bright idea – to get the city population involved.
The government decided to pay everyone 1 piastre for each severed rat tail (the tail was seen as adequate proof of the kill).
However, this choice of this “metric” had enormous consequences.
After a few weeks people noticed rats running around Hanoi without tails.
On further investigation, it was found that people weren’t killing the rats and cutting off the tails (they were only doing the ‘cutting off’ part).
Conversely, a number of entrepreneurial types realised that they could make a lot of money by catching and breeding the rats, then cutting off their tails and claiming the bounty.
So, rather than solving the rat problem, the incentive was actually making the problem worse.
Why’s this important?
This story shows us how important it is to choose the right KPIs.
For example, measuring the performance of your digital marketing activity on click-through rate alone, without ever knowing if those clicks come from your target audience, or indeed convert to further engagement or ultimately, a sale.
So be very mindful of the KPIs you set. We know that “what’s measured gets done”, but be sure what gets done aligns to your ultimate goal.
To learn more about setting the right KPIs for your brand, contact me here at wethepeople.