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Showing posts from 2013

What I Learned This Week: Thinking Big

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Back in October I started working at an early stage startup and said to myself… “Self, you should write a blog post about what you learn each week.”Well, I have been negligent to this point but now I’m ready.Here we go!
Most startups I know take immense pride in “bootstrapping” and doing just enough to get investors and potential users excited.We’re taking a very different tact and building for scale from day 1.That means being extremely thorough in our product design, buying third party tools that will last, and hiring people who can execute in pre-launch, post-launch, and scaling worlds.(LinkedIn talks about this philosophy here.)

Product Design:Don’t just think through some of what might happen, think through all of what might happen. You may not want to build everything today but at least you’re making conscious decisions about what to wait on.Third Party Tools:Unless you absolutely have to, don’t buy software you’ll outgrow in six months.  Changing systems is painful, especially if…

The Problem with Minimally Viable Products

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Where I am seeing more and more trouble is the translation of that kind of internal thinking into the customer/user experience.  Especially on products that are not labeled as Alphas or Betas, but that are being sold or promoted as fully functional.  (If you’re piecing it together with duct tape behind the scenes, so be it, you can come back for tech debt later.)
“Lean Startup isn't about being cheap [but is about] being less wasteful and still doing things that are big.”
Simply put, your customers should never know that you’ve but an MVP in market.   That means paying attention to all of the details that create a great customer experience and not skimping on the work.
Your marketing website:  Make it look good – I mean, really good.  You want people to know what they are signing up for and how it can help them without having to do a ton of work to find the answers.
Your collateral:  Don’t just .pdf an internal word doc and call it a day.  Put some simple, clean design elements and ph…

Finding the modern marketer

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There are lots of great articles about how to be a "modern" marketer and even more about how to hire one.  The challenge is that everyone looking for a great job thinks they fit the bill and are eager to spout off catch phrases like Inbound Marketing, Demand Generation, and Content Marketing to impress the uninitiated.

While lots of executives at companies of all sizes understand that the marketing landscape is changing, many of them don’t know exactly what they need or what they are looking for.
So, how do you know if you or your interviewee fit the bill? 1.The modern marketer looks at the whole funnel, not just the top of it.  They know the numbers and see acquisition, conversion and retention as their job (note the eMarketer data showing a focus on lead generation).  They think about lead quality not jut lead volume.  And they see working cross-functionally as a blessing, not a hassle.
2.The modern marketer loves to learn and create things.  They seek out keys to creation …

Two Kinds of Data I Love

The kind that makes me feel smart.We all love to be proven correct, right?It feels good to have an opinion that is supported – even after the fact – by quantitative data.If you use this type of information effectively, over time more and more of your hypotheses will be proven out unless something fundamentally changes in the marketplace or with what you are selling. The kind that makes me smarter.  Believe it or not, I love being proven wrong almost as much as I love being proven right.  As a marketer – or person – it’s important to always remember that each of us is just a sample of one.  Our upbringing, our experiences, our mood all dictate they way we consumer information and react to messages.  The value of good quantitative data is that it rules out those personal biases and shows us what most people do, and where to focus our efforts for the biggest impact. Whether you are a researcher, an analyst, a marketer, or just a curious person – the power of data is in being open to eithe…

Three Reasons Your Intern Shouldn't Send Out Your Key Metrics

My company has a lot of internal dashboards.  We love metrics and keeping our eyes on them on a daily basis is what helps us be successful.  But lately some of the most important metrics we watch have started being sent around by our interns.  Don’t get me wrong, our interns are great. But is that really the best way to communicate?  Here are three reasons I think the answer to that question is no. 1) Loss of importance.  Again, I love interns but regardless of how great they may be I know that I am more likely to pay attention to something sent by a higher level employee.  Having a senior level person send the metrics also allows r some qualitative color to be added to the numbers. 2) What’s the feedback loop?  If I have a question about what I am looking at I’m not sure who to ask.  Do I ask the intern?  Their manager (if I know who that is)?  The fact that I’m not sure who to follow up with is a problem in itself. 3) Lack of confidence in the data.   Even the best interns only partiall…

In Business Offense Wins Championships, Defense Doesn't

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There’s a classic sports phrase “offense wins games, defense wins championships." (There’s also the notion that fans hate that saying, but that’s for another day) In business, it plays the other way. Defense leads to complication, slow decisions, and reasons NOT to do something. Offense leads to creative ideas, aggressive tactics, and the difference between good and great. So if you want to win for your company or career, play offense and make stuff happen. Defense won’t get you far.
Photo credit: The atlantic

Work/Life Balance: 5 Things I Try To Do Every Day

Life can be hard. Work, parenting, traffic… They all bring our stress and anxiety to elevated levels that I personally don’t want to be at. Here are 5 things I try to do every day to level them out. 1. Agree with someone. It’s easy to be contrary all the tome but acknowledging other people’s good ideas goes much further. 2. Challenge something. Pushing yourself and others to be better helps create the world you want to live in and provides a strong sense of accomplishment. 3. Completely space out. Falling into a song or a tv show or a smell that takes me away from my desk or car or house changes my entire outlook. 4. Be present. Putting the phone down and truly engaging in a conversation with a living, breathing person makes you remember how great human interaction is. 5. Laugh. Funny and enjoyable things are happening all the time. Making room in my day for them always makes me feel better about the hard stuff.

Taking Control Of Your Career

When my mother told me I could be whatever I wanted when I grew up I truly believed it and even today, I believe that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. Rules are just guidelines to be molded.Other people’s opinions are to be learned from not deferred to.And if I don’t like something - I believe it’s on me to change it. So, I find it extremely frustrating when people that I am certain are capable of making change seem only willing to sit back, complain about it, and do nothing but share an article on the topic. Your job, your social status, and your relationships are in your control if you’re willing to put in the work.

Marketing Thoughts on the Frenzy of the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO's Comments

I have two thoughts on the frenzy over Abercrombie and Fitch’s CEOs comments… Both as a marketer, not as a parent or a psychologist. 1) Having a very clear picture of who your target market is for a company or a product is critical to success. As a business, trying to be everything to everyone is a recipe for failure. I admire that this dude is crystal clear on who they are selling to and why. 2) The public outcry is the exact reason that positioning documents are for internal use only. Targeting should be done through product design, media buys, and imagery/messaging… all of which is designed to influence the people you want to attract. Making a public declaration of those things leads to hurt feelings and being judged for your target market choices. 3) Bonus thought: I used to love the giant flannel shirts (I think they were called the big shirt) at A&F but by changing their designs, my own aging, and their ads it became very clear that this was not the store for me. And that’s ok…

People as Brands on Twitter: Don't Ruin the Illusion

It would be silly to think that some of the biggest celebrities in the world man their own twitter accounts (even if some do, some of the time.). But there is no reason to ruin the illusion if you’re running a “brand" account when the bran itself is a person. One great example of this disconnect was a post made by Justin Timberlake’s twitter account this week. The post read:
“Justin’s new album the 20/20 experience is now out!" But wait, aren’t you Justin? There are two simple answers - just say “my album" or change the handle to make it clear that it’s an official but not personal account. In the end, we all want to believe that twitter is a direct line to athletes and celebrities. If you’re running one of their accounts, don’t ruin that illusion!

My Marketing Philosophy: It's Simple.

I’ve always admired people who have documented philosophies about things.  I’ve also always wondered how they got them… and it just happened to me.  I was in the middle of a conversation and my marketing philosophy slipped out of my mouth.   Tell people the things that matter most in the simplest terms possible. Seems so obvious, right?  But as marketers we all like to do the big shiny complicated project.  That’s the one that wins awards and gets recruiters on the phone.  I just like the ones that work.