04 Nov Everything does not matter equally
No doubt Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s The One Thing inspired me. It got me thinking about priorities, one of the central themes addressed in the book.
Over the last ten years I have worked with some of the best-known technology brands in the world. What initially amazed me – and later terrified me – was how often a client was unable to clearly articulate the company’s marketing strategy and priorities. The situation became even graver when global strategies had to be translated into local priorities.
Question from agency: What are your commercial priorities for the next quarter/half/year?
Answer from client: Everything is a priority.
Erm, no it’s not.
The fact is that everything does not matter equally. Everything cannot be a priority. It really is as simple as that.
In my earlier article I referred to some common scenarios marketing departments are faced with. There are unspent budgets, poor planning, egos to be boosted – the list is endless. These are the enemies of priority-driven marketing. These enemies lead to a lack of focus and situations where “everything becomes a priority”.
A typical corporate mantra of “the busier the better” seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Busy driving the right priorities? Excellent, I am a happy man. Busy being busy, shooting in the dark? Not such a happy man.
I could hang a big hypocrite sign around my neck if I said I have never been guilty of “doing for the sake of doing” or “doing without thinking too deep.” It takes focus and discipline to change the way we have been programmed to do things. If it doesn’t matter or if it’s not driving the right priorities, don’t do it. It will most likely cause some initial discomfort and you will no doubt cause a few upsets, but it’s worth it.
I would never advocate an analysis paralysis approach, where you spend an inordinate amount of time defining and constantly checking on your priorities. It’s simply not productive – and you will never get anything done. What I am advocating is that marketing agencies should help their clients not only define the right priorities, but drive these on a daily basis.
You employ an agency for their expertise and to make your job easier. Some might argue this is an oversimplified view. My point is this: If your agency is going to blindly execute on everything you ask for – without asking or checking whether it’s aligned to your priorities – you have a problem.
A few pertinent points to summarise:
- Identify the priority enemies in your organisation (and your personal life, for that matter). These can be institutional, legacy issues or key individuals. You’re not going to change these – so be aware of them and know how you will navigate around them.
- Ask yourself whether your agency plays an instrumental role in driving the right priorities that will yield the desired outcomes.
- Make time for priority temperature checks. Make sure marketing is still relevant and aligned to the priorities the business is driving.