During a seminar on how to measure PR activities in social media, I got the classic question on whether or not you can measure relationships in monetary terms.

The answer is: Yes, you can.

But the more important question is: Should you? The fundamental dilemma is whether or not putting a price tag on human relationships will help your business to move forward.

I do know this:

Relationships are not built by equating humans to wallets with legs.

Let’s take a closer look at the human side of making a business more valuable.

Human decision-making is an irrational process

Human behaviour is an infinite series of complex phenomena. Anyone could decide on a specific purchase, only to get distracted once phone rings or the weather changes — leading to new and unexpected trains of thought. While human decision-making is a well-studied phenomenon, but that doesn’t make human behaviour easily quantifiable.

How we view and measure relationships differently depends a great deal on how we see our own business.

Example 1: The money-centric business

Most companies are managed via one single principle — money. It’s what defines their success, it’s what dictates their governance, it’s what functions as their prime motivator.

To gain access to as many “wallets with legs” as possible, money-centric businesses must tell people that they care about them. But here’s the thing with humans: We can see through smooth-talk like that from a mile away. We know that you only care about getting our money.

Being money-centric can have many advantages in business and in life, but not necessarily when it comes to establishing and maintaining authentic relationships. A business might see humans as walking-and-talking wallets, but few of us likes to be seen or treated that way.

By measuring everything from a perspective of money, chances are that a lot fewer human beings will be giving you a lot less of theirs.

Example 2: The value-centric business

Steve Jobs has an interesting take on business at Apple:

Jobs is primarily focused on creating the best product the company can ever bring themselves to manifest. And it’s not “the best product” according to any customer surveys; it’s the best product according to what he himself holds to be true.

Being value-centric is not at odds with making money.

If instead a company is primarily focused on making something awesome for the sake of making it, people will respond well to it. Such companies will often be just as business-savvy as money-centric businesses; not because they want your money, but because they need your money to make their vision come true.

Measure non-monetary value — and money will follow

Value-centric businesses tend to do better in this digital first world of ours. Word-of-mouth is on steroids today — this puts human beings right at the center of any business model. We all care about money, businesses and people alike, but that’s not how we form trust and deep relationships.

Not everything that counts, can be counted. And not everything that can be counted, counts.
Albert Einstein

Why is so crucial to understand the difference between a money-centric business and a value-centric business? A money-centric business can’t measure the value of a relationship in a way that leads to better and deeper relationships; they can just put a price tag on it. But a value-centric business can.

The key to successfully measure PR, which is all about human relationships, is to focus on value:

  • Measure how objectively good your products or services are.
  • Measure how the brand is loved by customers the company respects.
  • Measure how the company lives up to its own values.
  • Measure how objectively awesome the company is to work for.
  • Measure what positive change the company is making in the world.

And so on.

Only measuring how to cram more money out of every relationship will have you treating your publics like wallets with legs. And that would be a shame, because human beings have so much more to give other than just their money.

And as the saying goes, “what gets measured, gets done.”

Photo by Farid Askerov on Unsplash.