Everywhere you turn you hear people say “work smarter, not harder.” Sounds great! But what does it really mean? You’re already smart—if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be where you are now. Working smarter isn’t about intelligence; it’s about identifying patterns, behaviors and technologies that can simplify, streamline or accelerate how you get from point A to point B.
With the pace of innovation today, smarter solutions are literally all around us. Google Maps takes the time and effort out of getting directions (remember paper maps?). Siri and Alexa put a world of information at our voice command (remember encyclopedias and reference librarians?). On-demand entertainment services like Netflix or Hulu let you watch whenever you want (remember overdue fees at the video store or forgetting to program the VCR?).
As you approach your day-to-day marketing activities, here are three tried-and-true ways to reduce your effort—while maximizing your results:
1. Be more Agile. That’s agile with a capital A, a nimble approach to executing projects that originated with software developers. Why is it a smarter way to work? It’s the difference between running a marathon across the course of a year, or sprinting in shorter, two- to three-mile stretches each month. In the end, you’ve achieved the same distance. But with the rapid-fire Agile approach, you realize milestones more often, reduce delays and costly rework, and have more opportunity to adapt your approach as market conditions change.
As the software world found out, when you rapidly test and refine your product against a series of short-term goals, you meet your long-term objectives more effectively. To take this Agile approach in a marketing role, consider the next strategic plan or lead-generation campaign you need to produce. Instead of treating it as a marathon, break the project into smaller, more manageable sections. Launch the first phase, then build on what you learn as you move toward your long-term objectives.
We practice what we preach at Marketing Architects. For us, having an in-house creative department allows us to test and improve the TV and radio spots we deliver with lightning-fast speed, based on up-to-the-minute audience insights. Across the lifetime of a campaign, we continuously hone critical details, from design and language to calls to action.
It doesn’t mean we don’t do it right the first time. It does mean we have the flexibility of Agile—what we call Creative ESP™ that enables us to learn from and respond to what our audience’s behavior and data tell us. The result is stronger broadcast campaigns that generate more leads and sales.
2. Don’t let DIY eat up your ROI. A common misconception is that managing all aspects of a task with in-house talent and resources will save you time and money. Too often, this strategy only leads to inefficiency, frustration and even employee burnout. Working smarter is really all about leading with your strengths.
Look for opportunities to offload work that isn’t in your wheelhouse. With the rise of the gig economy, it’s easier than ever to outsource part or all of a marketing project. You’ll benefit personally from more time to spend on what you do best, and your company will realize greater results by leveraging experts in each discipline.
Not sure where to begin? Often, it helps to track your time for a few days. This gives you a realistic assessment of where you’re expending your energy, and a baseline for when you speak with external resources.
When it comes to your direct response campaigns, consider a firm that takes a turnkey approach. That means one team for you to manage, rather than one person working three jobs in-house. At Marketing Architects, we’ve nurtured specialists and invested in proprietary technology to handle everything from software development and reporting to creative development and media buying. And our media placement workhorse - the AI-driven Annika™ - never burns out. More work only makes her smarter!
3. Look for aha insights. Lastly, don’t forget the power of data. In our digital era, it’s everywhere, just waiting to be leveraged. Analyzing the behavior of your best customers, your campaign results or even how much time you spend in meetings or answering emails can result in one or more aha moments. It’s working smarter by gaining a greater understanding of the most pressing challenges—and new ways of solving them. In addition, having data-driven insights arms you with irrefutable evidence to make your case for change to executive stakeholders.
If you’re not a natural-born analyst, reach out to your database administrator, marketing operations team or IT department for assistance. An Excel spreadsheet can tackle smaller datasets; larger files will require more robust business intelligence software. Many applications come preloaded with easily accessible reports and dashboards. Start by identifying your top questions, then look to the data for answers.
The Marketing Architects team had an aha moment when we dug into our data for broadcast ad placements. We found out that 80% of direct response airings occurred on just 20% of the available channels and programs. We realized that most agencies fight over a relatively small amount of real estate on major networks, which drives up costs without yielding a corresponding value. Yet the time and resources needed to plan and buy TV and radio advertising across thousands of lesser known intersections was prohibitive to us.
That’s when we decided to work smarter. We developed deep relationships with more than 1,000 handpicked networks and stations, then built programmatic tools to do the heavy lifting that would be impossible using traditional media buying methods. The result? More impressions, greater reach and improved ROI for our clients.
What assumptions are holding you back? Next time you hear the words “that’s how we’ve always done it” or “it’s just easier this way,” dig a little deeper to see how moving beyond the status quo will pay off for you and your company. Working smarter usually outperforms working harder in the long run.
When you’re ready to simplify your direct response marketing, we’d love to chat about your goals and challenges. Give us a call at 800-700-772 or you can also skim the top tips for improved, impact-driven campaigns by downloading our latest eBook.