Tuesday 2¢: The Bare Minimum

This Tuesday 2¢ is inspired by two people that inspired my marketing career; is it time to kick back a little and do less when all around us are telling us to do more?   

If you noticed that I missed the last two weeks, thank you! I am writing this because someone did and gave me a nudge.

There is actually an irony to me missing last week, as my wife pointed out because the topic I was writing about was doing the minimum, and I never finished it. Plus, I decided last week to publish this little missive on LinkedIn, and I merrily typed up a bunch of stuff before my browser crashed, and LinkedIn doesn’t auto-save, so all was lost. And my muse was gone. A lesson there.  

So where was I?

We definitely live in the age of “more”, exposed to the hustle porn that tells us that watching Netflix is for losers. As marketers, we are constantly being distracted with new tactics, channels and that oh-so-cool new doohickey that all the kids are raving about on Linkedin that we need to give some attention to. Aside from the executive barging into the marketing office wondering why we are not on TikTok, or that we need to target millennials or should run a campaign against a new keyword that’s hit the zeitgeist. 

And, of course, with every new idea, channel, campaign or whatever it is, we rarely consider what we WON’T DO to free up the time, resources or attention that the new thing needs. We got to keep all the plates spinning, and there is always one more plate. And we don’t help ourselves as our culture says we should be proud of this. 

But, maybe there is a different way, and this week three thoughts have conflated in my thinking about this. 

Marketing like you are playing golf

I had a conversation with my chum and regular guest on my podcast Robert Rose rattling around in my head, where he talked about approaching content marketing like golf (he also shared it in his column for The Content Marketing Institute).

The premise is the game of golf is about achieving the objective of getting the ball in the hole with the minimum number of strokes. If we apply this idea to marketing, then we first need to understand our objective (and it almost certainly is not running around on a hamster wheel striving to constantly just do all of the things). Then map out the minimum set of things we need to do to achieve that objective and then really focus on being great at those.

And, as I understand it, they say about golf (I’m no golfist) “drive for show, putt for dough”, meaning you gain the most by being good at the smaller, detailed thing.

A Minimum Viable Audience

I don’t think you can write a marketing post that uses the term “minimum” and not mention Seth Godin’s minimum viable audience (or the smallest viable audience as he shares here) the concept is that you need to figure out the minimum audience that will help you achieve your objective (again, you need to understand your objective). 

As he says:

“.. you have to choose your customers–who’s it for and what’s it for. And when you’ve identified them, the opportunity/requirement is to create so much delight and connection that they choose to spread the word to like-minded peers.”

So, like Robert’s golf analogy, the minimum isn’t about running around the hamster wheel of being ordinary at a lot of things, but about being focused on the objective and being really good for the right people. 

Start from the Bottom

I’m standing on the shoulders of a couple of giants with those last two, but this is from my experience.

I was once consulting with a company that was looking at starting to get serious about marketing and was thinking about awareness, running campaigns and doing all the things they’d heard marketers do.

But, we started from the objective, which in this case was revenue, and we calculated how many deals they needed, how many leads to close them and then how we would find and address them. Sounds simple, but it surprised them how few companies we needed to find, and that gave us scope to be really focused on how we spent our attention, resources and budget and ignore doing all the things. 

Sometimes the minimum is enough, but this thinking is not without effort, it requires a focus on objectives and putting all your effort into being very deliberate about achieving them rather than just doing the marketing. It also gives you a defence against the two biggest challenges in successful marketing; random requests and budget cuts.

That’s my thought for this week; do the bare minimum.

The “lazy writer in purple with a typewriter” artwork was created using A.I. through NightCafe Creator I thought it would make a change from pictures of me 🙂

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