If only we were superheroes

If only we were superheroes

Change your Luck blog series – Article 5

Guest author: Martin Hill, former International VP of Marketing, Epicor

time is a gift Until recently, I was in the kind of senior marketing job where time seemed to be the one thing that was impossible to enjoy. It was always moving so fast and there was never enough of it. Straight from meeting to meeting with barely enough time for proper planning before the urgency of execution, rinse and repeat. If only I’d known a superhero with the ability to turn back time.

Yes, of course we analysed performance, refined and reviewed tactics, but there were (and I suspect still are) lots of immovable objects that made the pursuit of excellence a challenge.

Looking back now, with the gift of time now firmly on my side, I can see a number of ways we wasted one of the most valuable resources we had. Time.

We procrastinated and hesitated.

We repeated mistakes and re-lived successes.

We were quick to execute and slow to stop. We were busy and we were achieving goals, but we weren’t excelling. We were human, not superhuman.

We were typical, I’m sure, of many marketing departments. Achieving a lot – but perhaps not always the right things – and with little time for reflection.


If only we were superheroes

I’m reminded of the 1978 Superman movie where Christopher Reeve flies so fast around the earth he reverses the world’s spin, turns time backwards and is able to prevent Lois Lane from dying in a car crash. Imagine being able to go back in time, make changes to your campaign and start again. You could repeat the process over and over until you knew exactly which version of the past performed the best, repeat it and then let time continue.

You’d definitely be a marketing superhero if you could, but it’s unlikely – however much I want to believe in superheroes (yes, I do still really want to believe it’s possible!).

So until Superman actually makes himself known to us, we’ll have to make the best use of the real time we have.

Known knowns and unknown unknowns

The problem of getting the best possible results from a campaign requires that we use time effectively and efficiently, speeding up execution and feedback so we can eliminate waste and improve performance. But just doing things right doesn’t always mean you’re doing the right thing. I’m reminded of this quote from Donald Rumsfeld (former US Secretary of Defense),

“There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know.

Even the most experienced marketer can only develop and execute campaigns within the bounds of their own experience.

The known knowns.

Even if you know there are technologies and techniques that you have no knowledge of that may improve results, they can be inaccessible to you.

The known unknowns.

Chances are, there are marketing techniques, tactics and technologies of which you have no knowledge that may be equally promising.

The unknown unknowns.


Eliminating procrastination

Three things might really help at this point:

1. a way of identifying what you don’t know;
2. a way of prioritising their potential to improve performance; and
3. a way of acquiring the knowledge to implement them.

The challenge is the same, no matter how experienced or capable you or your team are. Your bar may be set low or high, but you are limited to your known knowns.

With an ever increasing pressure to deliver better ROI, no-one can afford to ignore the need to seek campaign performance improvement month on month, year on year.

By ring fencing part of your marketing budget (and resources) over a period of time, there may be a viable solution to this dilemma. Take £10k a month, for example (perhaps £5k for media, and £5k for the time to manage and create the necessary assets). And build an experimental framework. Every month, try running 2, 4, or more experiments. This experimental budget does not even need to touch on your main marketing activity, but will allow you to test like crazy, and find out exactly what combination of sign up forms, offers, calls to action, form fields (etc, etc) will give you the best ROI.

Rinse and repeat on a monthly basis.

All of a sudden, you have the real data needed to eliminate procrastination when managing multiple tactics, campaigns or programmes.

Suddenly it’s much easier to decide know what to do next. You know where the greatest improvement potential lies, and how to test for it.

And you always have next month to test something new.


Planning the right things right

Having the confidence to execute is half the battle.

Having access to a rich database of tests relating to almost every marketing tactic imaginable, each quantified with performance improvement potential derived from tests run by other marketing professionals, enables the creation of such a plan.

Everyone’s situation, programmes, audiences, technologies and tactic choices are different, but a rich database with thousands of potential performance improving tests can help anyone and everyone improve.

 

Eliminate procrastination and hesitation

Build a new plan. A framework with experimentation based in.

Don’t repeat your past, replicate someone else’s.

Don’t just succeed, excel.

Don’t be limited by your known knowns – explore your unknown unknowns.

We can’t promise to make you a superhero, but we can show you how to gain the gift of time.

IF YOU’D LIKE TO DISCUSS HOW TO TURN BACK TIME, GET IN TOUCH

OR, IF YOU MISSED MARTIN’S LAST BLOG POST “CAN YOU FIX THE ODDS?“, YOU CAN READ IT HERE.