If It's Not In-Market, It Doesn't Matter

“When it’s all said and done, more is said than done.”

I try to keep that saying in mind whenever I start a project, but I regularly find myself surrounded by stacks of PowerPoint presentations and Excel files in support of ideas that I can usually summarize in 60 seconds. Some will argue that we need to demonstrate due diligence; others will say that we need to reflect input from across an organization. I truly believe this thinking is a reflection of how decisions are made today or, better put, not made. I once worked on an enterprise-level campaign that suffered through the input from over 30 presentations involving more than 300 internal stakeholders. That was not decision-making; it wasn’t even consensus building. It was ass-covering, plain and simple.

Let’s start measuring market action, not meetings

I am all for gathering input. It can make ideas better and more fully developed, but let’s not use the gauntlet of internal meetings to delay and deliberate any longer than we have to.  How many meetings does it take to make a decision, really? Our growing inability to make decisions and move forward is killing our creativity, causing us to miss opportunities and costing us money. I think it’s time to start making “in-market activity” the first measure of marketing success. How much of every marketing dollar actually finds its way to the market? How long does it take to come up with the idea compared to the time it takes to approve it?

What does real decision-making look like?

Real decision-making requires commitment. Committing to an idea, fighting for it and moving it forward. Decision-making requires that we close the door on one phase before we open the door to the next. We have to stop revisiting decisions already made. Perhaps most important, decision-making requires that we stick with a decision. We must give our ideas time to impact the market, and we must resist the temptation to wipe the board clean each year. Over my 30-year career, my most successful campaigns were in part successful because the client stuck with it. They stuck with it while we worked out the bugs in the early stages, and they built on it for more than one marketing cycle.

Less CYA. More TCB. Let’s stop talking and start doing. Let’s get our ideas out of the corporate hallway and into the field.  You’d be surprised just how effective action is compared to inaction.

by Mike Hensley
Executive Vice President, Global Client Service

Cross posted at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network

Follow Mike on Twitter @DigitalHensley