If asked to boil my career down to a few points of advice
1. All strategists and planners should have skin in the game and be accountable for their plans, including those that bless them.
In my experience, the further a person is from the end result (physically, mentally, emotionally, and fiscally), the less committed they are to its success. This is why most analysts and consultants get it wrong so often. Their engagements are designed in such a way that requires no skin in the game, beyond perpetuating retention of their services.
Leaders aren’t off the hook either. The instant you add one, just one other person to defer to within a company, the quality of strategic planning deteriorates unless that person is a blood relative. It’s not intentional, but it is mindless.
Leaving all the heavy thinking work to those on the front lines is a simple way to sabotage your efforts.
Deferring strategic thinking is in and of itself a strategy and the ultimate plan that leaders should be held accountable.
The Fix – Plan everything as if you were handing the project to your youngest child to lead. Design it to make it easier for those implementing it – and you’ll be designing it to succeed.
If you wrote every plan or instruction as if for one of your own children, you’d probably go the extra mile to make success easy for them. This is how the social/psychological distance in companies hinders performance and results – but all too often, all the data is collected on the assembly line, far after the plans and instructions are relayed. And there are few dashboards to catch this and address it.
Plan with precision and clarity in mind – with specificity and precision to have operational and tactical relevance. This ensures that you understand your goals, strategies, and how things are supposed to work, leaving far less room for hopium and wishful thinking. If a plan isn’t relevant to the operational environment or tools and resources within arms reach, it’s far more difficult to make it work.
2. More growth hackers, biz developers, less marketers.
Business has sped up and become more transparent. Everyone is in the marketing and sales business of your company. So how many people do you need marketing vs. selling? Why do we divide the roles that way? Are great marketers poor people-people? Are all salesman so focused on sales skills they can’t learn how to market?
– Marketing materials and the sales experience are often disjointed and out of alignment or completely in conflict. This is common.
– Marketers are often disconnected from the customer experience which is what creates.
The end result when you circle the business library is to be more hollistic in terms of driving engagement and consideration, after all, that’s why we create all the messages and have all these conversations right? Acquisition and growth are the goal – we need more cross-disciplined practitioners. And I think that means creating departments with clearer expectations and responsibility. Growth Lab – Experimental Teams to drive the numbers.
3. Draw attention to your brand with thoughtful original content wrapped in a focused experience.
When the quality of your content is better on other platforms than it is on your own website, you’re working against yourself. If the closer a customer gets to you, the worse the experience, then you are creating an informed and decisively non-customer. Yet this is how most brands market these days, with a deteriorating experience the closer you get to the brand. This is backwards.
If your Facebook or Instagram page look better than your website, you have a problem. Most marketers convince their clients or organizations to Follow vs. Lead.
The quest to create gravitational pull of focused attention and consideration of a message is what marketing is all about. From a business and content standpoint, the strategic approach to leveraging social media to market a business boiled down to creating captivating content that linked back to the company website. Think of this as bread-crumbing your audience back to your website.
Winning on any media platform is a complex skill that takes training and time, which create dependency and favoritism. There are few marketers who are good at Google Display/ Search Ads / Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. What happens is that the leading attention platform is also the most worshipped marketing platform. And marketers are lost in the weeds of their particular channel, to compare the costs and performance to others. And this is exactly the type of information companies need.
1. Facebook actively and passively destroyed the appetite for attention and fragmented it across 1 platform.
But if you look at how the fight is playing out, most of the resources are going to the front-lines, focused on the battle not the war. Companies and marketers have given up on driving focused attention to their company sites, and are instead focused on the attention natively posted on social media platforms. Let me tell you why this is so bad for business.
1. Ultimately, it’s expensive and you better be tracking your TRUE costs of acquisition.
2. It’s harder to bread-crumb content to lead to your website but more important than ever before.
All eyes on Zuck – Over the past 4 years, Facebook, Zuckerberg himself has flat out said he wants to own/destroy/dominate Google for audience, attention, and traffic. So Facebook steadily dis-incentivized all publishers from publishing external links to their content, and post it natively on Facebook itself. This is why, for example, that YouTube videos no longer play in the preview of a post. If you were promoting content on social media to drive traffic to your website, the algorithm now hates on external content and champions native content. And content publishers didn’t pull the plug – they doubled down on their investment.
Companies have disconnected completely from their digital goals and are choking on their own vanity metrics. Measuring engagement (likes and the like) on Facebook is like counting the cheers at a free concert. These are weak signals that remove the context and experience of which the likes were given.
The feed is the worst invention for attention of all time. The feed has what you want – Gravitational pull of attention
The math at scale is this:
1. How much of your market is on the platform?
2. How much can you capture?
3. How many are you dissuading? <— This is the question few are willing to ask. How many people did you convince to say “No. Not ever.” “No. Not Right Now” is wishful thinking, and if you don’t have data to back up that the no is temporary, bear in mind their is plenty of neuroscience and behavioral economic studies that show humans tend to pre-judge and stick to those judgements.
Even if I can buy your product or service on Facebook itself – how many people are convinced not to buy (people do not change their minds so readily).
If you’re going to go social you need to broaden and deepen your brand. It’s that simple. Unless you’re doing strictly paid advertising – which Zuckerberg continues to raise prices on while taking away targeting criteria year over year for the past 3 years.
No matter how tempting it is – do not lose site of the goal – create amazing experiences that drive to a place where you can have focused attention and consideration of the buyer. THAT IS NOT AND WILL NEVER BE THE SOCIAL PLATFORM.
3. DTFW – Do The Formidable Work – Most issues arise from sourcing/procurement strategies that stem from a desire/wish for cheap, easy buttons.
Let me save you the trouble – cheap easy buttons don’t exist. You will pay in cash, sweat, and or time. Stop running from the formidable work. If you feel you got off cheap, believe me, the breakdowns haven’t hit yet. Failed solutions end up costing you in even more cash, time, and sweat, since time is already sunk on a bad solution, you’ll now have to spend finding something that works.
It’s critical to build a culture committed and proud of doing formidable work. The search for easy buttons is a distraction and procrastination techniques that creates performance drag in company culture – and it’s almost impossible to spot on a report or dashboard.