The Carpet Flowers

There’s a lovely saying which appears to hail from Quebec, s’enfarger dans les fleurs du tapis. It translates roughly to “tripping over the flowers in the carpet”, i.e. failing to go where we’re headed because we get hung up on irrelevant or nonsensical details.

I regularly see businesses “trip over the carpet flowers” when they get sidetracked by trends and jargon, only to end up mired in confusion, irrelevant information, and wasted time. I can’t really blame them – that confusion is usually caused by the people entrusted to implement marketing efforts. While it is important to stay up to date with the latest developments in marketing, this should never come at the expense of things that actually work and yield a tangible benefit for your business.


Most businesses don’t need super-granular real-time analytics on their website or big-data visualization tools to measure how well they’re doing. A marketing plan or campaign that has dozens of objectives and convoluted measurement will be a mess, because how can you determine what worked or not? Certain metrics will be successful and others won’t, but how do you decide which ones you need to act upon?

A common side effect of this is to get hung up on metrics which are irrelevant, especially those that are often referred to as “vanity metrics”. Businesses (and especially first-time entrepreneurs, in my experience) get distracted by numbers such as the follower count on their Facebook business page. Getting lots of Facebook likes gives us a nice dose of dopamine, but do they directly correlate to sales? Will they cover your rent or your payroll?

Cost per Acquisition

I think the single most important measurement in advertising is Cost per Acquisition (CPA), which is the amount it costs you to land a new client. All you have to do is divide your marketing spend by the number of new sales that you got out of it:

Marketing spend  $1000
÷ new clients        5
CPA               $200

That number tells you just about all you need to know. If your typical profit per client is $5000, then spending $200 on each sale is profitable and you should keep doing what you’re doing. However, if your average client is worth $10, spending $200 to make that sale is obviously not sustainable. Other metrics can come in handy, but everything ultimately comes down to income generated. That’s why CPA is so useful.

Trust your instinct

Despite what you may have heard from experts and vendors, marketing isn’t rocket science. If you as a business owner don’t understand how to interpret or act upon a metric, it’s probably not a useful thing to keep track of. Those “fluff” metrics do, however, often end up being a refuge for marketers. The more metrics you have, the easier it is to cherry-pick those that look good – regardless of their tangible benefit to the client. Paring down your reports to only 2 or 3 key metrics ensures accountability.

I’ll leave you with this song, which popped into my head when I wrote the title to this post: