// The TAG! Blog

Befriending Hindsight

Samuel Thompson - Wednesday, February 15, 2012

—( ‘Hindsight - 2883’, with thanks to suburbanbloke )— I'd always perceived hindsight as an unfriendly figure with a cocked eyebrow and a smug ‘I’d-have-known-that’ grin. Not the worst kind of presence, but definitely not one you’d invite to parties. And that’s because hindsight tends to appear – along with a life-lesson and a light scolding – when you realise you did wrong. Most of the time anyway.

There is an alternative

This week was a good week. This was the week when we had our first concerted batch of people registering a TAG! card which they’d bought on the recommendation of their friends.

Put otherwise, this is the first proof we’ve had that some people, somewhere, like what we’re doing enough to take the time to tell their friends, in a way that was persuasive enough that their friends went and got a card.

My business partner and I are – as individuals rather than as business owners – really, truly awful at self-congratulation. We tend to flit from one finished project or milestone to the beginnings of a new one without the slightest feeling of achievement or moment of contemplative zen. This, however, had us reaching for the roof, basking in the affirmation this gave us. I can’t speak for Carol, but it’s given me a whole new, much-needed, drive.

But in all likelihood we wouldn’t have ever found out about these spokespeople for TAG!, nor indulged in the joyous (and wickedly skilled) dance-a-thon that we permitted ourselves*, but for one thing: planning for the best.

A brief tangent (in order to set the scene)

Back in July / August, while designing and coding this website, I spent a silly number of hours planning out our registration form, trying to weigh up how we could best present it so that people would bother to fill it in.

For us, the information our customers provide is invaluable; the numbers help us see where TAG! is working, and email addresses allow us to keep our customers up to date with everything that’s going on, as well as rewarding them with exclusive stuff.

At the last minute, after much debate, we chose to add one extra category: ‘where did you hear about us?’.

Planning for the best

I’ll be honest; I was conflicted about such a seemingly small thing.

On the one hand, I knew full well that extra bits to fill in results in fewer completions (apparently no-one likes filling in forms... who’d have thunk it?), and I wasn’t sure that anyone would bother with this one (it’s not required).

On the other hand I thought that maybe, just maybe, there would be people who would want to share where they found out about TAG!, and that they’d give away an extra few seconds of their time to do just that.

It turns out that around about half of our submissions include this section. Thanks to this we have a way of knowing which businesses are helping spread the word, which events are having the biggest impact and which of our actions are most effective. And, now, whether we’re doing anything right.

Hindsight – my new best friend

Every single time someone fills in that section I grin like a fool. I could have left it out. I probably would have left it out, but for a (possibly post-caffeine) surge of optimism. And now it’s one of the most useful metrics we have for analysing our own performance.

Moral of the story: work on the assumption that things will work out. Sometimes they don’t, but – more importantly – sometimes they do. And when that happens hindsight will walk right up to you and shake you by the hand and pat you on the back without even a trace of condescending smugness.

Anyone else had that handshake?

*Read: that I permitted myself.

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