Over the last 6 months, I have spent a lot of time at my new job learning and growing as I have been challenged with all sorts of new projects and programs. I went from being a focused specialist to being the “buck-stops-here” point for all things digital within the company – and those are two very different roles. I’ve learned something though, as I have expanded and gotten involved in projects ranging from landing pages for print ads to entire website redesigns and overhaul.

There are two kinds of…

If you stick a bunch of digital marketers in a centerfuge and spin them around, they will separate into two different groups. Yes, I know it’s silly to distill people down to two groups, but hang in there.

Builders

Some marketers are builders. They start from the ground up, building programs, websites, projects, etc. They have the unique ability to look at the thin air in front of them, and envision the end result. They are heavily entrepreneurial, vision-driven individuals who can identify the opportunity, and put the plan and steps in place to seize it.

Optimizers

Some marketers however, are optimizers. They can take a look at a program, site, project, etc, and identify ways to make it significantly better. They can see the goals and the existing paths to accomplish those goals – but then find new paths as well. They take something already built, and make it more efficient and effective.

Ok so there aren’t two kinds.

Really though, I think most marketers fall more heavily in one camp or the other. The people I know that can build great programs and sites are not necessarily the same people that can take existing sites and maximize the opportunities.

Looking back at my own career, I have fallen most often in the Optimizers camp. It has been a fairly significant adjustment in my new role, since I now have to spend much of my time building programs from the ground up. I have had to think about sites and programs in an entirely new way – and it’s been hard.

All marketers should spend time doing both – because the skill sets are completely different and equally important. I won’t say one is easier than the other – just different.

Where do you fall? Where do you want to?

A Schedule Defends from Chaos & Whim

Everyone likes to think of themselves as spontaneous. But building predictability and planning into your business operations is critical to success. Without planning and scheduling, you are subject to whim (as my fortune cookie says) – you work on what you stumble across or what you think of. But so much more can be accomplished by building a schedule of optimizations. How?

Building a Schedule Requires Planning & Critical Thinking

When you take the time (and it can take a considerable amount of time) to build out a schedule of optimizations or tasks to accomplish on your program, you are forcing yourself to think critically about what is required for success. I’m amazed at how many programs are being run without that thought and effort. If you are doing it right, you are looking at your goals and putting together a plan for regular changes and work to help you achieve those goals. You have to decide:

  • What optimizations are you currently making, or wish to make?
  • How often does the account/campaign warrant each change?
  • What are your success metrics & best practices for each optimization?
  • How can the process be streamlined?
  • What are the outputs from each action?

Defining the answers to these questions up front can help you save a ton of time and make real progress towards your goals.

After you have determined what optimizations you need to make, you should determine how often to make them. Don’t forget to plan for changes in seasonality! If you are a retailer, you probably have to optimize more frequently in Q4.

Create Checklists and Processes

Once your optimizations and tasks are defined, creating a checklist and process for those tasks helps make sure they get efficiently accomplished. As I mentioned in my post on building reporting, everything you build should be scalable and repeatable, with focus on speed. Automation is key!

Another key to success – don’t try to have every process built perfectly. Take a page from product designers, and start with a minimum viable product. Get it out the door, and then every time you fulfill that task or process, iterate and improve. That way with minimum amount of time up front, you can be up and running, learning what you need to change and how to improve.