Call me a deviant.
I know the culture of startups (and, really, the culture of any company)…
Is to try to DO EVERYTHING.
I’ve done this in my own startup projects. I see it with startups I work with now. I saw it every day when I worked at Microsoft.
There seem to be more tasks to complete than hours in the day.
So how do you cope?
You just need to work faster. You need to manage your time better. Work longer hours. Sleep less. Stop exercising. Spend less time eating. Economize your interactions with people. Communicate more efficiently. Use stimulants. Etc, etc, etc.
As a startup marketer on a quest to find and create profitable customer acquisition channels…
The thousands of variables you face each day can easily morph into a task list with hundreds of items.
So… back to me being a deviant…
Here’s what I think: this entire effort to get more done so you can reach your goals … leads nowhere.
I heard a high-level business coach say something recently, and I completely agree:
Highly successful people DON’T ‘get it all done.’ They just get the MOST IMPORTANT things done.
When Marketing Is Like Peanut Butter
When I was getting my MBA, one class made an analogy that really stuck with me.
And it’s been applicable in many areas of my life.
It was an accounting class (WAIT! Stick with me here, the accounting part is short)…
And the analogy was that you can’t spread your costs evenly over your business (like peanut butter).
When you spread your costs evenly like that, you’re skewing your metrics and you can’t tell which activities are the most and least profitable.
The key is to do the work to assign the costs to activities that actually generate them, so you can clearly see the winners and losers.
So … what does this have to do with marketing your startup?
Think about it like this:
Your time & attention is the peanut butter.
In a discipline already plagued by attribution problems…
When you spread your focus across too many marketing activities…
You fail to see the winners and losers.
You may take shortcuts, like averaging the results of different activities…
Or even worse, averaging the results in your head. That only leads to really poor insights (and a headache).
Here’s what I’ve found:
Careful scrutiny of individual marketing activities, in a vacuum, without comparison to other activities…
Can yield insights about their performance that wouldn’t show up when those activities are lazily evaluated as part of a larger group.
So focus. Don’t do it all. You don’t need to be in every channel. You don’t need to test every traffic platform.
You only need to find the one that’s going to matter for the next phase of your company’s growth.
Then, when you get that cranking, you can give yourself permission to try another one.
Andrew Schultz is the founder of Conversion Box.
He is obsessed with insanely high conversion rates and customer acquisition.