My main character I've been playing recently in World of Warcraft is my marksmanship hunter, which is probably the most complex class of character I've played in the game. Why? In order to get the maximum performance out of the marksmanship hunter, you have to memorize and execute a very tight, very fragile rotation of abilities, hitting the right buttons at the right time. It's a very unforgiving class to play - the difference between a top-of-the-charts hunter and the bottom of the barrel can be as little as a few missed button presses.
For example, my Death Knight's main set of abilities looks like this relatively simple priority list in order to get the maximum performance out of him:
- Keep diseases on target.
- Use frost, unholy, and death runes for Death Strike.
- Use blood runes on Heart Strike unless there's a free Blood Boil proc.
- Burn runic power using Rune Strike.
- Use Soul Reaper on targets below 35% health.
Pretty straightforward. Now the hunter?
- Apply traps before the tank pulls.
- Cast Misdrection on the tank.
- Apply Hunter's Mark.
- Apply Serpent Sting.
- Cast Rapid Fire whenever ready.
- Fire two Steady Shots in a row.
- Cast Chimera Shot whenever it's ready.
- Cast Aimed Shot whenever Master Marksman procs.
- Cast Glaive Toss whenever it's ready.
- Cast Dire Beast whenever it's ready.
- Cast Stampede whenever it's ready.
- Cast Murder of Crows whenever it's ready.
- Cast Readiness to reset Dire Beast, Stampede, Murder of Crows, and Rapid Fire, but is mandatory before the target goes below 80% health.
- Cast Kill Shot whenever it's ready.
- Cast Steady Shot to generate focus.
- Cast Arcane Shot to use excess focus.
- Cast Mend Pet when needed.
You practically need an administrative assistant to call out the shots by order to maximize the amount of damage that the marksmanship hunter can do. There's an additional trick in there, too - your abilities change when the target's health is above 80%, and there's a different order of shots. To even be competitive, much less chart-topping, you have to have the sequence memorized and do exactly the right things at exactly the right times. Oh, and you still have to be able to move around to avoid the inevitable pools of fire/acid/shadow/goo on the floor as well.
There are plenty of situations where you have to go with a suboptimal rotation as well. Things happen, and you have to adapt and make the best choices to salvage what performance you can. Maybe the healer in your group suddenly gets attacked. If that happens, you cast Misdirection and spam Multi-Shot to save your healer, at the cost of doing maximum damage. Maybe the tank falls over dead and your pet has to take over. You turn on Growl, spam the daylights out of Mend Pet, and fire off what shots you can while keeping your pet alive long enough for the rest of the group to finish off the bad guys. The difference between a bad hunter and a good hunter is knowing what your abilities do, and what you can leave out in the short term and still do pretty good damage despite adverse circumstances.
So what does this have to do with marketing? The ugly truth is that marketing looks a lot more like the hunter's world than the Death Knight's world. We have an exhaustive menu of methods at our disposal and limited time, energy, and resources to make them happen. We have to make choices to maximize what impact we can have, understanding that very rarely will we ever be in an ideal situation where we can use all of our abilities in exactly the right sequence at exactly the right time. For example, imagine this was your marketing "rotation" for a product launch.
- Set up website landing page
- Turn on analytics and marketing automation
- Build email templates
- Curate and collate social media audience
- Write media outreach pieces
- Assemble email list
- Do media interviews
- Launch social campaign when first media hit lands
- Time email campaign to coincide with social campaign
- Launch PPC ads to augment landing page
That's a pretty ideal order of things. Now imagine that you don't have all the time and money in the world, or imagine that your company suddenly has a sales shortfall and needs to scramble rapidly to rebuild the pipeline. What do you sacrifice? Do you can the PPC ads, or do you not spend money on the media outreach? If you don't know what all of your abilities are and what impact they can have on your marketing, then you're going to vastly underperform. If you know what marketing "buttons" to push and in what order - and what you can leave out in a short-term resource crunch - then you can make the most of a suboptimal situation.
Being a hunter in World of Warcraft can be incredibly rewarding and satisfying once you know what you're doing and can execute under pressure. The same is true of being a digital marketer. May your DPS top the charts, and may your marketing win the business!
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