7 Reasons Why the Hamster Can’t Get Off the Wheel

One of the great things about working at an agency is the number of professionals and industry leading companies you get to work with in your career. But even the leading marketing departments can get stuck in a hamster cage, just spinning the wheel.

Below are common quagmires that slow a marketing organization and make marketing departments and agencies less effective.

photo courtesy of almostscientific.com

1) Measuring activity not results
When you measure and report on activity (what you were busy ding), you spend a lot of unnecessary time and energy creating the reports. By measuring activity, you automatically associate success with a long and detailed report. The longer the report the busier you look. Focus on results (outcomes of activity)and your reports become more useful, more focused and take a lot less time to produce.

2) Bad decision making process
Everyone wants to be involved in marketing and marketing decisions. At the end of the day, if you invite someone to be involved, let them know exactly what their decision making capacity is. Are they . . .

• The owner who makes the decision?
• An approver who says yes or no?
• A contributor who is part of the decision process?
• or the Informer who is just providing data?
3) Adding new things without removing the old

Today’s marketing department has to take on more and more responsibility and processes every month. But they often forget to take a step back and look at the tasks and processes that are unproductive. It’s like cleaning out your closet. Buy a new shirt? Then donate the old one.
4) Failure to include your executives in the audience
If your CEO only uses an iPad and your Website is all in Flash, you are going to spend a lot of wheel spinning trying to explain why his website is “broken.”
A friend of mine who use to work in film marketing for a major motion picture distributor use to tell me they would buy up as many billboards and bus stops between the head of the studio’s home and the office. He said it was cheaper than spending hours explaining minute details of the media buy strategy to the studio head.

5) Treating legal like a necessary evil
One of the first questions I ask clients is what is your relationship with legal like? Almost all of the most responsive, nimble and successful teams have spent significant time investing in their relationship with their legal counterparts.
Be sure your legal team knows what marketing does, the challenges you face and keep them in the loop on your long-term plans.  You’ll find that many legal departments will not only stop road blocking your efforts, but can actually be quite helpful in assisting you selling ideas to the CEO.

6) PowerPoint design
Often almost one half of presentation prep time is spent on formatting and design. Good design is critical, but gauge what is really needed for that presentation.   Also don’t worry about the background, keep it simple and instead focus on your voice and content.

7) Worrying about the competitors

Way too much time is spent worrying about things we can’t control. Be aware of what the competitors are doing, but focus on doing what you do better and don’t worry so much about comparing your product to the competition.

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