Almost Timely News, 24 April 2022: Set up for Success, Incrementality, Talkwalker Interview

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Almost Timely News, 24 April 2022: Set up for Success, Incrementality, Talkwalker Interview

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What’s On My Mind: Set Up For Success

One of the cliches I’ve heard most in business, especially the last decade, is the expression “set someone up for success”. My old boss at the agency I used to work at said this about nearly every new hire, about how we all had to help set the new person up for success.

What does this actually MEAN, though? How do you set someone up for success? I asked around on social media and here were a couple of responses:

“Give them whatever resources you have… tools or knowledge… so that they’re going into the situation as prepared as possible.” – Aaron Hockley

“Give them the tools to do a good job themselves.” – Andi Robinson

While I don’t disagree that giving someone resources, tools, and knowledge is a critical part of helping them succeed, there’s a different angle we should consider.

In my martial arts class today, we were working on the opposite of setting someone up for success. Using positioning, timing, and knowledge of psychology, we performed techniques designed to set someone – an aggressor – up to fail. No matter what your antagonist does, they dig themselves into a deeper and deeper hole until victory is impossible for them.

How? By taking away their options. Position yourself on one side of their body so they’re inclined to punch a certain way, ruling out other kinds of strikes. Place your hand in a guarding position at an angle where they have to work around it, making their next move predictable. Time your defense so that each attack they throw puts them off balance and vulnerable to counterattack.

Think about it for a second. If you just stand square on in front of someone, they have limitless ways to attack you – any angle of their choosing, any target of their choosing. When you position yourself properly with distance and timing, you take away their options. You’re at the wrong distance to be kicked. You’re at a strange angle for them to jab, so they have to step through and punch or throw a cross.

By taking away their options, their choices, you set them up to fail because you know what’s probably going to happen and the fight occurs on your terms, not theirs. You lead them to the inevitable conclusion – their defeat, their inability to cause you serious harm.

So… what if we flipped that around? Instead of leading someone to failure, we lead them to success. How would we do that?

By taking away options. Instead of taking away avenues of success, we provide ONLY avenues of success. We take away the things that are likely to cause them to fail.

What would that look like? You’ve seen it already in action. If you’ve ever been at or seen a little kids’ bowling party at a bowling alley (or even not-little kids), what do bowling alleys do? They put up the rails or inflatable bumpers so that the kids cannot throw a gutter ball. You take away their ability to fail by taking away options, taking away choices.

Suppose you have a novice chef on the line. How do you help them succeed? You take away options. You focus them on one thing. Chop these carrots in quarter-inch slices on a bias using a 6-inch chef knife. To what Aaron and Andi said, you give them a decent knife, a good cutting board, and show them an example of how you want it done – but then you take away every other distraction so they only do what’s asked of them and success is as simple as possible.

Suppose you’re talking marketing analytics. When we do Google Analytics implementations for clients, a lot of the time it’s about taking options away, just doing stuff for them rather than having them do it themselves. Taking away those choices – with appropriate subject matter expertise – is how to help someone succeed by removing likely avenues of failure.

If you want to set someone up for success, what can you take away so that they only have one path to follow, one way to go – the way to success? What options can you reduce? What focus can you give them?

Perhaps setting someone up for success is just as much about what you take away as what you give. Perhaps it’s even more about what you take away so that things don’t get in the way of success.

Something to think about.

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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it

Besides the new Search Console course I’m relentlessly promoting (sorry not sorry), I would recommend reading the piece I did on incrementality. It’s a measurement a lot of the C-suite asks for, but not many of us know how to effectively deliver.

Skill Up With Classes

These are just a few of the classes I have available over at the Trust Insights website that you can take.



Get Back to Work!

Folks who post jobs in the free Analytics for Marketers Slack community may have those jobs shared here, too. If you’re looking for work, check out these five most recent open positions, and check out the Slack group for the comprehensive list.

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Thank You Notes

These are the places you’ve had or mentioned me – on your podcast, on your blog, in your newsletter. Thank you!

What I’m Reading: Your Stuff

Let’s look at the most interesting content from around the web on topics you care about, some of which you might have even written.

Social Media Marketing

Media and Content

SEO, Google, and Paid Media

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Tools, Machine Learning, and AI

Analytics, Stats, and Data Science

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Events I’ll Be At

Here’s where I’m speaking and attending. Say hi if you’re at an event also:

  • Social Media, June 2022, Montenegro
  • MarTech Conference, June 2022, virtual
  • MAICON, August 2022, Cleveland, OH – use code PENN150 for $150 off any conference ticket
  • MarketingProfs B2B Forum, October 2022, Boston

Events marked with a physical location may become virtual if conditions and safety warrant it.

If you’re an event organizer, let me help your event shine. Visit my speaking page for more details.

Can’t be at an event? Stop by my private Slack group instead, Analytics for Marketers.

How to Stay in Touch

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Required Disclosures

Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.

Thank You!

Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.

See you next week,

Christopher S. Penn


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