Blueprints, marketing strategy, and execution

Take a look at this house:

Honor_bilt_modern_homes_.jpg

This is from 1921, when you could order a house (or at least all the materials to build one) from a Sears Roebuck catalog.

Despite being almost 100 years old, this house plan is still practical today. You might make a few materials changes, and some minor specifications might need to be altered to be compliant with modern building codes. For the most part though, you could build and live in this century-old design today.

Why? Fundamentally, the house meets all of the basic requirements of what a house is supposed to do. It accomplishes the big picture goals quite handily. Protection from the elements? Check. Comfort? Sure. It may not be palatial, but it’s better than a tent. Attractive? Maybe not out of the box, but lived in for a while, it could be the centerpiece of a wonderful garden.

Now think about the things that wouldn’t be in this 1921 design. No wi-fi, probably no telephones in general. No air conditioning. May or may not have been wired for electricity; anything in a Sears Roebuck catalog was targeted at suburban and rural areas.

Are any of these conveniences insurmountable? Of course not. They’re minor tweaks and add-ons to the house as a whole and they don’t substantially change the purpose of the house.

What does this have to do with marketing? Marketing folks lately (especially the growth hacker movement) are fond of saying that strategy is worthless. Strategy is unnecessary. Strategy is too static, too inflexible, too difficult for an agile, digital landscape.

What’s fundamentally wrong is confusion of strategy and execution.

The strategy of marketing is to generate leads within a certain timeframe that sales can sell to. The strategy of marketing is to position the company as a leader so that it’s the first and only choice for your customers.

When you view strategy through this lens, you realize it’s just like the house framework above. You can adapt the tactical implementation and execution endlessly. You can choose channels, methods, budgets, etc. to infinity. At the end of the day however, you’ve either generated enough leads for sales or you haven’t. Your company is a category leader or it isn’t.

Don’t be too hasty in your disregard for marketing strategy. It’s difficult to do, but it’s even more difficult to be successful without it.


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Do best what matters most!

80% of your results comes from 20% of your efforts.

The Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule, has been enshrined in the memorial of productivity axioms as well as in our heads. There’s a second version, created by Jay Arthur, the 4/50 rule:

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A full 50% of your results comes from a core 4% of your efforts.

The point of the 4/50 rule is to emphasize that there are certain fundamental things you do that deliver significant benefit, while everything else builds atop that foundation. The question is, which 50% of your results is it, and what efforts are in the 4%?

How will we find out the answer? Start at the end, with your KPIs. What things, what numbers really matter? (if you’re unfamiliar with KPIs, read this first) What are the handful of numbers that, if they go to zero, you lose everything?

Take a step back. What are the primary activities you perform that feed into those KPIs?

Lead generation is a marketing example. If your leads go to zero, you go out of business. What feeds your leads? For this website, it’s all about organic search. If I don’t write great content and get it shared, I don’t get organic traffic, and my leads go to zero.

Weight loss is a non-marketing example. If your calorie intake exceeds your calorie expenditure, then your weight loss goes to zero (or negative!). The core activities to focus on are what you eat and how much energy you expend.

What do you do with that information? Now that you know what’s inside the 4%, what’s the next step? Focus relentlessly on the 4%. Move everything else out of the way until you deliver excellence in the 4% first. Optimize and improve anything in the 4%. If you’ve got tough choices about what to do on a daily basis to be more productive, dig around for additional efficiencies in that 4%.

Relentless, uncompromising focus on the 4% it will help you move the ball down the field towards your goals faster than anything else you can do.

Do best what matters most!

What’s in your 4%?


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How to manage workflow with sticky notes

On Twitter, Ana Canhoto asked about the stickies on the wall near my desk:

Ana_Isabel_Canhoto_on_Twitter____cspenn_curious_about_the_post-it’s_on_wall__Is_that_a_planning_system__How_does_it_work__Thanks__

Indeed it is. I recorded a short video explaining it:

Try it out for yourself. It just takes some sticky notes and masking tape to get set up. No expensive system, no gear to buy, just a wall and some tape!


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