Almost every boss or manager that I’ve had has used the phrase “move the needle” at some point in their career. But what does that mean?
“Move the needle” is a common phrase used in all aspects of business, but it’s gaining popularity in marketing. The phrase is searched an estimated 2,000 times a month in the U.S.
When used in this context, it means to make a significant impact or generate measurable results that can be observed and tracked.
The phrase took the business world by storm in the 1980s and began just as business jargon. It refers to the idea of moving a needle on a gauge or measuring instrument, which indicates progress or change in a positive direction.
In marketing, the goal is to create campaigns to generate a significant impact on business metrics. These metrics include sales, revenue, brand awareness, website traffic, engagement, and other KPIs. It’s important to create campaigns that generate measurable results and drive the business forward.
“Move the needle” provides a tangible and measurable target to work towards. Instead of focusing on vague or abstract goals, you set specific goals to achieve and use them as a benchmark for success. This creates a sense of focus and urgency, as well as clear expectations for what needs to be achieved.
How Can I Use the Phrase?
During a Team Meeting
“We need to come up with new strategies that will help us move the needle on our sales numbers this quarter.”
In a Presentation
“Our marketing campaigns have been successful in moving the needle with regard to brand awareness, but we need to do more to increase conversion rates.”
In a Performance Review
“Your efforts have helped move the needle on our customer satisfaction scores, and we appreciate your hard work in this area.”
During a Brainstorming Session
“Let’s focus on ideas that will move the needle on our product innovation, and help us stay ahead of the competition.”
Context is Key
Whether or not you should use the phrase in your business or marketing strategy depends on things such as your audience, brand tone, and the context in which you use it. If you’re talking with people who are familiar with it, go for it. On the flip side, avoid it if you’re speaking with someone who may not understand the phrase. If your overall business tone is more light-hearted and less business-professional, “move the needle” may not be the right fit for you.
Moreover, “move the needle” is often used in business, specifically marketing, to emphasize the need for innovation, creativity, and experimentation. Marketing is a dynamic field that is constantly evolving. Marketers should stay on top of the latest trends, techniques, and technologies to stay ahead of the competition. By using this phrase, you encourage your teams to take risks, try new things, and push the boundaries to generate impactful results.
Bernadette Kinlaw wrote an article for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette saying when you move the needle, you must move the same needle that your boss wants to move. Meaning that if your boss sets a specific goal to reach, you should strive to achieve that same goal.
“Move the needle” conveys the importance of creating campaigns to drive the business forward. It provides a tangible and measurable target to work towards, and it encourages innovation and experimentation.