Moving the Needle Forward


Contributed by Alyssa Antz

That phrase “moving the needle forward” can sound like one of those business-jargon, string of words that leaves you thinking, what does that actually mean? Even more so, what does it look like in action, in reality?

We say it a lot at our office. Along with “quarterbacking the project” and “calling audibles — it is more than just frou frou words — we really embody this in our day to day work, our weekly wins, our big goals and accomplishments.

So, here is a quick breakdown, and more importantly – what implementing it can mean for you and your business.

Ticks on the Gauge

When I think of moving the needle, I envision the gauges in your car – the ones that indicate your speed is going up or the gas is going down and there are little tick marks for the arrow to indicate where you are falling in the range of up or down, empty of full. So, if as a business we are starting at zero on the left and our client goal is on the right, we are going to do everything we can to push that needle, tick by tick- project by project – until we’ve reached the “maximum” and completed the assignment. Sometimes, the ticks on your gauge are 5 and sometimes they are 50. Or one tick is much harder to push past than another – but in any case, all projects have their individual campaigns which have their own little gauges and each tick is a task to reach completion.

Spinning Plates

Sometimes, I liken what we do to spinning plates. Each client/project has its own set of spinning plates, and even if we only had 5 clients each with 5 projects going on, we’ve got 25 things we are managing, daily. And in each and every one we want to do whatever it takes, within reason, of course, to make sure we are taking things “across the finish line” (this is another common phrase of ours…I guess we like football analogies?) No matter how many things we have going on or what the challenge is, the end goal (and more importantly – result) never changes – we are always going to be completing projects. Period.

Ask Yourself….

What does moving the needle look like for you? Is it just adopting that mindset and resolving that the next project, no matter what it is, you WILL find a way and you WILL get it done – no more excuses or kicking the can down the road or blaming someone else? Maybe it is resolving to have a set number of goals to reach the finish line (making a touchdown, into the net – pick your analogy!) for each one in a certain amount of time. Strategize, set some goals, figure out what it takes to excel and actually see things moving.

An Example

As I said, we do this on a daily, weekly, etc. basis. We think of ourselves as the “aspirational agency” – we aren’t here to do ho-hum, status quo work. No thanks. We’d rather be researching the best ideas, brainstorming creative ways to share a message and close deals, and always pushing to think – what is next? How can we go bigger? (Or conversely, how can we niche down?)

We had a client who didn’t want us to work on a marketing plan – just wanted us to jump in and Get. It. Done. We made a suggestion for a plan to implement on their website, that would lead to some valuable content and then a nurture campaign. We just made the suggestion – client said, yes, go! – and then we were tasked with breaking down that lofty, 30,000 foot view plan and getting it to completion. And we did: we had strategy blasts, mapped out the process and then we attacked each “tick” until in a couple weeks’ time we had all the content, the process, the programming and the graphics complete and a happy client.

However you like to phrase it (sports phrasing or no), the key here is that you think big and accomplish meaningful projects – and while meaningful could be defined differently by each project/client – your end target is never going to change: get it done (and done well).

Happy “ticking off” of the gauge!