Make Marketing a Data-Driven Habit

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marketing timeMarketing, perhaps the most important function in a business, often gets pushed to the end of the to do list by whatever seemingly urgent needs that crop up during the day. To give marketing the attention it deserves you must make the practice a habit.

The New York Times Magazine published an intriguing piece by Wired contributing editor Gary Wolf titled The Data-Driven Life.

The article introduces individuals who track and measure every aspect of their life, sometimes using the data collected to break habits and achieve goals.

Take for example Robin Barooah — a 38-year-old self-employed software designer from England. A few months ago, Barooah began to wean himself from coffee. His method was precise. He made a large cup of coffee and removed 20 milliliters weekly. This went on for more than four months, until barely a sip remained in the cup. He drank it and called himself cured. Unlike his previous attempts to quit, this time there were no headaches, no extreme cravings. (You may also find Borooah’s own article, The Quantified Self, a fascinating read)

The story continues to introduce others who take the idea of logging their life activities to a freakish level, but I couldn’t help wonder if business owners should take a data-driven, although perhaps a bit more moderate than some of the folks in the Times article, approach to how they spend their time?

What if for the next two weeks you logged how you spent your time at work. You could track it on a spreadsheet or simply make up some paper forms from a calendar program that would allow you to jot what you did in 15-30 minute increments. If you take the two week challenge I think you’ll be blown away by how much time you waste doing things that are not very fruitful, including spending little or no time focused on marketing.

If fact, if you want to make this time measurement more meaningful add dollar value data. At the end of each day go back over your log and assign a value to the work you did. One of the easiest ways to do this is think about what you would need to pay someone else to do the work. So, making a sales call might be high dollar work, while getting and filling the copier toner might fall somewhere else on the scale.

Now, to make this all come together you’ve also got to peg your “Make What I Need Number.” This is essentially your goal income divided by 2080 (that’s 40/hr week for 52 weeks). This computation creates an hourly need to make number and just might help you better understand what work you should be focused on doing yourself and what work you need to find someone else to do. For example, if your goal income is $150,000, you hourly need number is around $75/hr. Double your goal income and your hourly number becomes $150/hr.

In my experience marketing work is some of the highest long-term work a business owner can do, even if that’s the work of managing others to do the tactical aspects such as design and implementation. When you get a baseline on how your actually spending your time you just might gain the insight and leverage to start focusing on and measuring time spent in the marketing department. You might begin the practice of scheduling daily marketing appointments with yourself and weekly marketing meeting with your entire team. This is how you achieve your goal income and this is how you build marketing momentum.

Image credit: Robbert van der Steeg


Gary Wolf, NY Time Magazine

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