As another summer approaches, vacation season is in our sights and we’re ready for the fun and adventure that comes with it. For most, flying is the preferred means of transport. It’s understandable. Shorter travel time means more time to have fun at your destination and you don’t have to spend a day recovering from the trip.
I’m not that guy. I LOVE going on road trips. I love seeing the country and being in control of the agenda (nobody is delaying my car from leaving on time). I love spending time on the road, listening to music, slowing down, and enjoying. Some of you might share my sense of adventure. Others might think I’m nuts. My oldest daughter (6 years old) agrees with the later. She doesn’t really appreciate the nuance of the road trip and makes me share her pain in her own way. Without fail, and within minutes of leaving, I hear it…”Are we there yet?”
- 1 hour day trip? “Are we there yet?”
- 12 hour cross country? “Are we there yet?” (“No dear, we aren’t out of our neighborhood yet. There’s your friend playing in her front yard. WE ARE NOT THERE YET!!!”)
But, how many times do we as marketers ask the same question?
- “Our data is perfect. Are we there yet?”
- “Our content plan is rock solid. Are we there yet?”
- “We can show you any metric. Our reports have reports. Are we there yet?”
The only difference between my road trips and your marketing operations is simple. I will eventually get to the point where I can tell my daughter, “Yes. We have finally arrived.” However, operationally, the marketing journey should never end. Optimization should be a continuous process.
Really, anything a marketer can touch should be continuously optimized, whether it’s data, campaign components, content strategies or metrics. Everything can be refined to the next level. Here are a set of guidelines that will help you identify and execute on optimization and allow you to continuously push the boundaries of success.
- Identify opportunities: “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure.” – Andy Grove. Mr. Grove is talking about the most critical item that faces modern marketers, particularly those who have successfully executed on their plans and are showing incredible results – the Rock Stars (and rightfully so). However, as the quote alludes to, we as humans have a tendency to become complacent and rest on our laurels. Identifying things that can be optimized when they are already successful is very challenging.
What can I do? Push yourself to ask questions and try to make yourself a little bit uncomfortable. Move past success and into the world of the innovator. Find ways to do things that have never been thought of, let alone attempted and open yourself to new, perhaps better possibilities.
- Set expectations and manage change: As you identify opportunities, you may find that you sit alone on your innovation island and convincing others to join you will be a bit of a challenge. Getting your own team to see new ways of doing things can be tough in itself, but getting other departments who have their own goals and challenges to adopt change may be even more difficult.
What can I do? Clearly articulating your vision, setting expectations, driving adoption, and fostering excitement has tremendous advantages over simply launching a new or changing an existing process.
- Deliver a clear, written plan: A vision without a plan is just a dream. This is especially true when you are optimizing an existing process. When you are innovating or improving, you are working within smaller margins and treading where few, if any, have gone before.
What can I do? Providing a written plan allows you to not only track your progress and understand your roadmap, but also gives others something on which they can develop understanding. When a plan is in writing, systems and processes can be optimized in a consistent, thorough way.
- Set clear roles and responsibilities: Change, especially change through successful times, can be a difficult thing. Even the most cohesive, aligned team can find changes to roles and responsibilities difficult.
What can I do? Understanding the perspective of team members and clearly defining additions, changes, or adjustments can make the process of optimization amenable and even fun. Positioning change as a benefit and clearly articulating the vision can get your team excited and add to the depth of your optimization efforts.
- Measure success: When you are building processes and systems for the first time, measurement is a natural part of the equation. This should be especially the case when optimizing your marketing efforts. You want to make sure that the change or innovation is actually driving success and is worth the time and energy spent on building it. But don’t let the task of defining and refining measurement slow you down from innovating.
What can I do? Create processes and systems that will help you optimize and let the metrics and analytics be a result of the changes, not the driver. Free yourself to be creative but hold yourself to the results.
Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll find your journey to modern marketing maturity full of interesting paths, a few novelties, and maybe a traffic jam or two. When you’re on this path, you don’t really ever want to “be there”. Always remember to enjoy the trip; that’s part of the fun!
Editor's Note: Today's post comes courtesy of Rob Barnhart. Rob is a modern marketer. Combined, he has 15 years of marketing experience in manufacturing and technology, including 10 years of experience in marketing automation. Part of the Eloqua community since 2005 (and 2010 Markie Winner), Rob has developed a deep knowledge of marketing technologies, as well as strategies and best practices that have proven successful time and time again. In his role as a Marketing Advisor for the Oracle Marketing Cloud, Rob works with customers across a wide range of industries and experience levels to develop frameworks for their growth and success. Connect with Rob on LinkedIn.