The 15-minute strategist begins with, appropriately enough, an exercise that shouldn’t take much more than 15 minutes. Sit down with your team — with your stakeholders, if possible — and answer some simple questions:
1. What business goal are you (or your client) most trying to achieve?
This question might seem simple (“revenue, you idiot”), but it really has great depth to it. For one thing, the question refers not to a communication goal, but to a business goal. Focusing only on the communication goal becomes a circular, rather than evolutionary role. For another, even though most marketers will start with revenue as the answer, understanding the nature of this revenue matters.
In most businesses, some revenue matters more than other revenue. Margin matters. Cost of sale matters. Repeat vs. first-time matters. Make sure that you, as the 15-minute strategist, define revenue as accurately as possible.
2. What should you (or your client) care about more than you do?
Here we begin to delve into insight. For an email marketer, for instance, attrition might not get the attention that revenue does, but it nevertheless remains an area of concern. This item serves as a counterpoint to the main business goal. It should focus on the strategic factors that register as important, but not urgent.
3. If all else fails, communications should…
Not every new initiative will permit a thoughtful approach. As noted above, many times a marketer will simply have to dive right into tactics. To help keep tactics aligned, the marketer should understand and conform to the communications objective. While the communication objective might not align completely with the business objective, it should at the very least head in the same direction. So fill in this section with a simple, common-sense explanation of what email, mobile messages, or other channel communications should achieve.
4. Sacred cows
Every business has lines that it can’t cross for legal, ethical, or profit reasons. Marketers should spell them out to prevent wasting time with ideas that simply can’t work.
Keep track of all the things that you’ve learned through testing or experimentation. What email subject lines perform well? What offers drive the most conversion? Over time, the combined wisdom from these tests will inform new and better ideas moving forward. Of course, if the marketer leaves this question blank, then he or she should feel an impetus for action.
6. Lessons learned
Marketers learn from mistakes as well as successes. Take a humble approach to tests or ideas that didn’t work out and list out what made them fail.
Now comes the fun part. When embarking on a new project, refer to this exercise. Every project should conform to items No. 1-4 and, ideally, evolve from learning in items No. 5 and 6. It takes only a few minutes to check the details of a new project against a 15-minute strategy, and it helps to serve as a litmus test for a project’s value. However, the marketer must remember to employ the 15-minute strategist concept with every new project for the process to have any value.