The Jaggedness Principle and Multi-Dimensional Nurture

Just over 70 years ago, artist Abram Belskie and obstetrician-gynecologist Robert Latou Dickinson designed Norma and Normman, two statues carved of white alabaster. They were based on the measurements of 15,000 men and women between the ages of 21 and 25 in an effort to represent the average man and woman. The results of their experiment would give way to the discovery of The Jaggedness Principle.

Two years after they had debuted, On September 9, 1945, the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer announced a competition to submit nine body dimensions that most closely matched the dimensions of Norma, who at that time was on display at the Cleveland Health Museum. Nearly 4,000 women submitted their measurements, yet only 40 came remotely close – with at most 5 of the 9 measurements matching.

Fast forward to the early 1950’s when the Air Force measured more than 4,000 pilots on 140 dimensions to design a cockpit design to fit the “average” airman. They built the cockpit on 10 final dimensions. The scientist in charge expected a sizable number of the pilots to fit into the cockpit, so they there surprised to find that of those 4,000 men, absolutely none of them fit into all 10. Beyond that, he discovered that if you were to pick just three of those 10, only 3.5% of the pilots would have made the cut.

And so arrives The Jaggedness Principle, which simply states that no one is ‘normal’, and no one is ‘average’ – it simply doesn’t exist. As Jonathon Keats notes, “Any one-dimensional ranking based on averaging multiple unconnected qualities will suffer.” I’m sure you can see where this is heading. At its core, building a nurture structure is simple. Contacts match criteria, are put into the first touch, wait a while, maybe engage, get the second touch, ect. In its simplest form, your prospects are pushed down your sales funnel throughout the nurture. But there should be so much more to it than that, and if we can learn anything from Dickinson and the Air Force, averaging what we believe to be the best path for the majority is a route which hardly works.

Instead, build your sequences to leverage not just engagement (i.e. “opened this” or “completed form”, but also a collaboration on what they have engaged with while traveling through the nurture – across your marketing ecosystem – and what exactly those assets are and represent.

Therefore, once you’ve rebuilt your content in multiple mediums to extend the reach of it, utilize hidden fields in forms to tag assets with different criteria, and map those to contacts in your CRM. Then, while designing the flow and content of your campaign, consider who needs what, when. There are brilliant tagging systems to help you with this complexity. Leverage the content tagging you’ve created, and finally, test. Testing is important because, as we learned from the Air Force, guessing just doesn’t cut it.

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