Zach Heller Marketing Week in Review

Happy people are better at their jobs. They are more productive, more creative, and more committed. It is the job of every manager and every senior level person at a company to make sure that the people on their teams are happy. It just makes good business sense. This means increased flexibility, feedback and accountability, autonomy. It means better intracompany communication and a strong culture of openness, honesty, and teamwork. If you see an area where you can improve workplace policies, speak up now. The long term performance of your company depends on it.

Here are last week’s posts, in case you missed them:

  1. Ethical Questions for Marketers – Part 4
  2. How Many Ways Can Your Customers Contact You?
  3. What Percentage of Your Time is Spent on Strategy?

Happy Saturday!

Two Ways to Boost Your Marketing Knowledge:

  1. Subscribe to the blog and never miss another marketing post
  2. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter to get a curated list of the top marketing articles from around the web

What Percentage of Your Time is Spent on Strategy?

Here is an exercise worthy of your time, one that will make you more productive by helping you prioritize the projects that get your time and attention.

Through the years I have found that nearly everything you work on can fit in one of four types:

  1. Day-to-day Quick: these are the small tasks you work on that take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to complete.
     
  2. Day-to-day Long: these are the micro-level tasks that are not as quick or easy as #1, and are usually broken out over a number of days or weeks.
     
  3. Strategic – Low Level: thought-level analysis and planning for an individual project or exercise, covering a single aspect of the business or just one initiative.
     
  4. Strategic – High Level: like #3 above but more expansive, business- or brand-level strategy (rebranding or new business initiatives).

If you ask most people how much time they should be devoting to all four of these buckets, you will find various answers that usually involve some amount of time each week in all categories. On average, it will break out pretty evenly (25-25-25-25%).

But if you ask those same people how they actually spend their time, odds are most will say they spend much more of their time in bucket 1 than any of the others.

And while bucket 1 is important, we have to do whatever we can to make sure it does not eat up our time for buckets 2, 3, and 4.

Bucket 2 is often work we put off because we know it’s a time suck. Those are the things we know have to get done, but can’t get done today. So they’re easy to put off.

Buckets 3 and 4 are perhaps the most important, because that is how we plan and prepare for the future. That is how we grow our brands, innovate, and compete.

The best way to prioritize strategy work is to schedule it. When we don’t schedule it, its easy to put it off. “I’ll have more time for that later,” we tell ourselves, “but right now there’s this one thing I have to finish.” But when we put time for strategy on our schedules, we commit ourselves to it.

Make a goal to spend at least 20% of your time each week (that’s 1 full day in 5) to focusing on strategic projects. You will find that you are more productive, and spend more of your time working on things that will have a larger company-wide impact.

How Many Ways Can Your Customers Contact You?

The good news: there are more ways to communicate with your customers than ever before.

The bad news: there are more ways to communicate with your customers than ever before.

Let’s count them first, then come back to why that is both good and bad news.

  1. Phone calls
  2. Email
  3. SMS/Text messaging
  4. Live chat
  5. Facebook messenger
  6. Chat bots
  7. Twitter
  8. Other social – WeChat, Snapchat, Instagram
  9. In Person (is it weird that I thought of this one last?)

I’m probably leaving some options out. But already there are nine different ways for your customers to contact you.

Why that’s a good thing

Conversations between customers and brands today are far more common than ever before. Consumers are loyal to, and trust the brands that do right by them. They have relationships with brands the we might think of a relationship between friends.

New options for communicating with customers lead to new ways to serve, please, and wow them. And that is an opportunity for your business.

Why that’s also a bad thing

While all these different methods of communication open up new opportunities, they also carry a bevy of challenges for brands. First and most common, there is more to manage. You want to be where your customers are, and that means trying to accommodate as many different channels as possible. But that puts more strain on the departments managing these forms of communication.

Second, there’s more that can go wrong. Customer service is hard enough with only one channel to worry about. We have all seen the kind of PR nightmares that can erupt when one customer has a bad experience. That’s more and more likely to happen the more different conversations are happening.

Embrace it

Some businesses choose to handle this new communication climate by trying to ignore and deny it. And while I conceded that for many businesses, especially smaller ones, it can be difficult to manage all the different communication channels, my recommendation is to embrace them. Your customers have. And the better you serve your customers, the more they will love you in return.

Ethical Questions for Marketers – Part 4

Welcome to the newest installment of our weekly blog series, Ethical Questions for Marketers. Each week we plan to introduce a new topic and explore it in detail, preparing marketers for the day when they face such a problem at their organization.

Last week’s topic was Price Wars.

This week’s topic: Competitor Spying

As a marketer, you always want to be aware of what your competitors are doing. Your goal is to stay one step ahead of them as you compete for eyeballs, attention, and dollars.

Most companies have someone on the team, or a third-party service they pay to keep an eye on the competition – to report on pricing and offers, changes in positioning, advertising, etc.

The question today relates to how far that kind of competitive analysis should go. Some companies will secretly shop their competition, learning everything they can about the customer experience, asking questions, completing purchases, using the product. This is an extremely helpful way of gaining valuable information you can only get by interacting with the company.

If I asked you whether or not it was okay for your company to engage in this kind of behavior, you’d likely say that it was. But if I asked you how you’d feel if your competitor was doing this to you, you might flinch.

There are some companies that might feel pressured to take this another step further. You might make an offer to buy, or merge with, or engage in a joint venture with your competitor in order to get them to reveal detailed strategic and financial information. When done in good faith this is fine. If it’s just a ploy to gather information, not so much.

So the question is, how much spying is acceptable? The best way to determine the ethical limits for your company is to think about what you would want your competitors doing to you. At the point you would be uncomfortable with their activity, draw a line for your own company.

Stay tuned next week for another installment of our Ethical Questions for Marketers series. If you have an ethical topic you’d like to see addressed, write us.

Zach Heller Marketing Week in Review

It can be tempting as a marketer to always be changing. We thrive on the new, constantly looking for opportunities that did not exist yesterday. And we track our results, so that when it looks like something is not working, it’s time to change it up. But there is something to be said for consistency, especially if you are trying to build a brand. Customers want to know who you are and what you stand for, and they can’t do that if what you are in always in flux. Make intelligent shifts, yes, but stay within the bounds of your brand.

In case you missed them, here are last week’s posts:

  1. Ethical Questions for Marketers – Part 3
  2. Use Google Analytics to Learn Who Your Customers Are
  3. Powerful Web Design Tips to Transform Your Website Into a Conversion Driven Success (Guest Post)

Happy Saturday!

Two Ways to Boost Your Marketing Knowledge:

  1. Subscribe to the blog and never miss another marketing post
  2. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter to get a curated list of the top marketing articles from around the web