Why you should do the hard things first

Take a look at your marketing project list. It may be a traditional lined legal pad you carry around in a folio or color-coded Post-It notes surrounding your monitor like a dressed-up peacock.

It makes little difference how you keep your list, because I bet we’re all the same in how we tackle the things on them.

We start with the easy stuff. And it will be our undoing.Whether you start each work week with a carefully plotted, organized list broken into “important” and “necessary” subsections (to which I yell “Overachiever!”), or you randomly trip through the week mostly reacting to the things that pop up like a kid playing Whack-A-Mole, you know I speak the truth. We go with what’s easy because we love that warm, slow-spreading satisfaction we get when we can cross something off. The quicker we do a few things and see some strikeouts , the sooner we validate a few little distractions (Twitter, anyone?). After all, look at all we got done already, and it’s only Tuesday morning!

You there. The one who stayed up ’til 12:30am responding to emails or writing a conference report. Don’t fool yourself. You’re still doing the easy stuff too, and late nights don’t necessarily mean you’re any more effective or dedicated than the next guy. And the truth is, no one really cares you decided to forgo sleep for the perfectly punctuated and bulleted email to all.

So why are we still starting with the easy stuff?

Doing good work – the right work – has nothing to do with tackling errant and outlying tasks. The clock doesn’t start ticking, nor the marketplace moving, once you tidy things up or finally get a a week with a light meeting [travel] schedule.

In marketing, good work is about purposefully, methodically deconstructing the messy, complex, confusing, potentially career-threatening crap that’s sitting Right There, plain as day, on our list. The crap that calls into question years of indoctrinated processes, use of existing systems and software, unquestioned and grandfathered procedures, and the whims of the blow hards in some other department who won’t give up the data. Good work requires doing something uncomfortable, often making painfully slow, incremental progress, through informed trial and error. Sometimes very publicly, with a rickety support system.

Good work – especially in social media – means convincing others that building a more socially oriented business is worth the time, resources, and financial investment. But that case isn’t built upon the crossed-off lists full of easy stuff.

Read this new report from Marketing Sherpa and Vocus to understand what I mean. The easy stuff may be the visible stuff, that which is more easily implemented. A Share button, a Twitter account.  But the good stuff? Well that’s gonna take some more work.

Social media priorities

  • CMOs want more concrete results from their social media marketing investment. Affinity and awareness no doubt still play important roles in the brand equity-customer dance, however executives are in search of more definitive, clear results from social media spend. This goes back to the indoctrinated/existing/unquestioned status quo mentioned above – whether or not yesteryear’s advertising (or marketing, for that matter) was tracked and measured has little bearing. The bloom is off the social media rose, and the chiefs want proof that this fuzzy, friendly social stuff is really amounting to something instead of giving some Millenial an excuse to read and comment on blogs all day long. Friends and fans are nice, but are they actually buying anything? And how much does that tweeter guy cost, anyway? Better get your social media priorities in order.

social media priorities

Social media tactics

  • In-the-trenches marketers still concentrate a lot of their energies in “fast and easy” tactics. Blogger relations (guest posting, link building, promotions, sponsored posts, etc.) isn’t easy, nor is it fast. It requires research, patience, persuasiveness, empathy, and a willingness to cede control. It’s an investment a brand makes for the right to participate in an existing community outside of their own network. Risks of being misunderstood and rejected are very real. But the rewards of acceptance, genuine, relevant feedback and positive word of mouth make blogger relations very valuable to a company with a strong position and customer-centric mind set. Figure out the social media tactics most critical to the success of your marketing plan and get focused already.

social media tactics

So you see, your boss really does care about the tough, sticky stuff you may have been avoiding. One day soon, you’re going to find yourself with 45.7 seconds of his/her time in the hall or elevator, and you’re going to be asked the question you’ve been dreading with the cold prickly fear of a snarling, 3-headed Cerberus. Will you have a good answer? You will if you do the tough stuff first.


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© Internet Marketing, Branding, Content Marketing, Social Media – Cedar Rapids, IA 2014 - Heather Rast, Principal