Guest blog by Jared Smith
I just got off the phone with a gentleman who owns an industrial services business. He fits the profile: loud, gruff, direct, probably very large, and most likely a beer drinker (I love Alberta!).
After a few friendly four-letter-friend-getters (“how the F are ya Smith??!), he quickly dispensed with the niceties and plunged head first into a rant about marketing.
“Smith, do you know what I’m staring at right now? A pile of options, Smith. A huge pile of options. In the last week we’ve been presented with options to grow our business by Oilweek, Alberta Venture, Pattison Outdoor, Astral Radio, Newcap, the Oilshow Tradeshow in Calgary, an event planner, CTV, NewAD, a web dude, Facebook, a sales trainer, Google Adwords, three charities, IMAX, my son’s minor hockey club, and a nice little old lady selling sponsorship for her cookies. How the hell does a guy make a single decision in the midst of all of these options? I feel like I’m shooting in the dark!”
One of the big challenges in marketing these days is navigating the multitude of options that we’re presented with to grow our business. I’m IN the business and I feel overwhelmed sometimes. I can’t imagine how most executives feel.
His little rant got me thinking. At the end of the day, Incite helps clients make decisions on how to grow their business. So I thought I’d share a practice that we’ve put into place to help us navigate the sea of options. It takes time, effort, and intuition, but it produces decisions in a timely and thoughtful manner.*
- Understand the goal. What are you trying to achieve and with who?
- Discuss the reality. What do you know? What have you seen in the past? What’s worked and what hasn’t?
- Research your options. Read, listen, watch, and, most importantly, have conversations with the audience you’re trying to reach so that you know them intimately and can tailor your solution to them.
- List out pros and cons for the various options. Take the emotion out of this process – what YOU like doesn’t matter.
- Sleep on it! In marketing (like most areas of business), there’s a degree of “gut” that’s required to make good decisions. My Dad always slept on the tough ones and woke up with more clarity. Sleeping on it for you could look different – go for a walk in nature, meditate, or practice yoga. The important thing is getting your head out of the decision.
- Decide. Give yourself a time limit for each stage, and especially this one. After steps 1-5, no matter how ambiguous, complex, or important the decision, this stage should take no more than an hour.
- Act. Make a plan for implementation. (By far the hardest part of any decision!)
It’s important to note that sometimes a process isn’t required, sometimes a decision doesn’t need to be made, but for the tough important ones the steps above will add some science to this crazy game of decision making.