Investing in marketing is a challenge. No matter what industry, what scale of business, what degree of resource capacity and capability, it remains a challenge. It is a challenge to define how much is ‘enough’, and it is a challenge to consistently define if ‘enough’ will drive a result that is in turn ‘good enough’. We are quick to look at large-scale, multinational organisations as having more than enough money to do something that a smaller business cannot. But their marketing teams are often held to account at a much higher level in justifying their spending, and often with far less freedom and dynamism. Not to mention that even a big company can have small campaign budgets, especially when you dig down to a product brand (and not company brand) level.
Each year at Hort Connections, the first thing I lock into my diary is the MOYA (Marketer of the Year Award) Showcase. I always relish the opportunity to hear what people have been up to and to engage in the ‘water cooler speculation’ about who will win. Watching this year’s finalists, I sat there and hoped that the judging panel had taken into consideration each submission relative to the submitter; and the level of innovation they should be capable of. And of course, I wondered if smaller businesses could innovate at a level that would get noticed on this stage. It got me thinking, because although I know the answer is “of course they can”, I was curious to review how.
If you haven’t read it, I would whole heartedly recommend The 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. I first read this book many years ago, and have recently delved back into it to self-assess on whether I am being efficient with my time as a marketer and more broadly as a human being. My learnings from this text form the cornerstone of this column.
In simple terms, if you can outsource the workflow of all except the most valuable of your outputs, you will focus your week considerably. In layman’s terms, make sure your team members are spending their time on the tasks where they add the most value, and offload the rest down the ladder or better still out of the business to a third party that can come and go as budget permits.
This logic applies very strongly in marketing. We outsource our social media management, design work, media buying and photography and videography. But a lot of these things are activities that smaller businesses don’t get to experiment with very often. So how does Ferriss’ logic apply to them?
At a granular level it means taking a task and finding a more efficient way of getting it done. For example, we recently needed to scrape 87 recipes from an old, overseas partner’s website and database them ahead of uploading them to a new local brand website. The digital agency was too expensive to justify them collating these recipes, I didn’t have enough spare time, neither did any of my team. To get the work done, we turned to Airtasker. Within 30 minutes we had secured an admin and systems experts based in North Queensland to fulfil the work within 24 hours. By utilising this approach, my team can complete seven other projects that otherwise would have gone untouched. The cost of outsourcing equates to an equivalent of only 20 per cent of the total time saved.
So, we can find quick and bite-sized ways to engage third parties. Something else we can consider is automation. As social media embeds more intrinsically at all stages of the supply chain, the subsequent provenance story becomes more complex. But it also drives increasing scope for automation. To clarify, by automation, I don’t mean a virtual robot answering people’s questions on your website, although this can be a great tool (sometimes). What I am referring to is the use of platforms like IFTTT (If This Then That) and Zapier to automatically link your pre-existing applications (such as Office365, MailChimp and HubSpot). Zapier connects over 1,500 applications and is growing exponentially. We have recently reviewed and expanded the way that Zapier integrates our Google Forms with Mailchimp databases. As a result, my team will never again have to upload a list of new web-subscribers to our mailing lists. This saves roughly 1.5 hours of team time per week in perpetuity.
There is an ever-growing swathe of tech applications and businesses whose primary objective is to disrupt the way people interact with technology and software, so there are always new and smart ways to operate. The same is true of campaign innovation.
By visualising the best way to connect all parties involved and challenge them to aim higher in an integrated and collaborative framework, this year’s MOYA winner, Olivia Grey, delivered a campaign in Hailstorm Heroes (see p7-9) that far exceeded what she could have delivered on her own. She was able to do more than just lead by example, she was able to innovate by example. Congratulations to Olivia and the team at Hort Innovation for their win, which I firmly believe was well deserved.
I readily admit that the innovations listed in this article are not likely to win you a MOYA nomination. However, the mindsets that they foster and the adjustments in capacity that they generate may well lead to something that does.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2019 edition of Produce Plus, out now.