When Vacillation Kills Great Tech Marketing

Business great Ross Perot once complained that if someone at General Motors saw a snake, instead of immediately killing it, a committee would be formed to study snakes. Do marketing initiatives take way too long at your company? If so, you're probably lagging your competitors.

Working from both within and outside the corporate structure, I often see enormous amounts of time wasted before action occurs. And it's not wasted attempting to build consensus, which is clearly essential in many situations. The waste is due to inattention and distraction. The decision-maker, in my case the VP or director of marketing, just doesn't get around to agreeing or turning the program on.

If there's one thing that's true in tech marketing and PR, it's summed up in this statement: “You snooze, you lose.” Opportunities, whether for engaging media, speaking, or writing, all come and go. Delays are going to cost you painfully on the success scale. In fact, timing and advance action can absolutely determine winners and losers.

In the game of “kick the ball and drag the client” only rarely do decision-makers act in a hurry to execute. It's great when they do. Next to having a viable competitive communications strategy, knowing where you're going and rapid execution are the most important elements in tech marketing. The speed of business, in tech as well as in nearly any sector these days, doesn't allow a leisurely pace or over-thinking the problem.

Meetings are often the kiss of death to campaign execution. Have you ever been to one where no decisions or action resulted? Meetings seem to be called because no one has anything else to do. I know that's not true, but think of the hours (and dollars) frittered away in unnecessarily long meetings where no action resulted.

I once had a client CEO who insisted on starting meetings on the scheduled time; if you were late, the door was locked. You didn't get in — just like in school. Everyone stood, so the meetings lasted about 20 minutes. No one played with their laptops unless they were taking notes. Decisions were made and everyone got back on the job right away. This tech company was successful and was sold at four times its valuation. They knew where they were going and were in a hurry to get there.

One certain way of slowing your marketing down is not delegating decision-making power. If there has to be a meeting with the boss every time decisions are needed, valuable time is lost. I've seen weeks go by waiting for this ever-so-important meeting to be held so a “Go” can come from the higher ups. If competent, motivated people are trusted to make good decisions on their own, campaigns move swiftly. Military field commanders expect their officers to make rapid, correct decisions. That's what they're trained for. That's what they're given authority to do, not wait for a meeting. Is your team executing at the speed of business?

Another time-burner in marketing is perfectionism. Tactical actions, often developed by teams, can become stuck for silly reasons. I once had a client-sponsored article for an important publication delayed for two months waiting for the vice president's copy approval. When it was approved, there were no changes. Another time a publicity opportunity was lost entirely because of delays in getting the “perfect” accompanying photograph. A competitor's story was used by the editor instead. How's that for shooting yourself in the foot?

Tech marketing execution needs to be on-strategy and good-enough but not perfect. If people expect perfection, perhaps they should do fine art for a living. Creative marketing awards typically don't gain a company more business. Certainly, brilliantly executed campaigns can. Desired marketing results most often come from people repeatedly and rapidly executing in the right direction.

2 comments on “When Vacillation Kills Great Tech Marketing

  1. prabhakar_deosthali
    October 2, 2012

    All very true! and sadly so!

    Many of the corporate bosses think that without a series of day long meetings involving the them, the company will just stop functioning.

    In my professional career with a company , I have seen the Chairman of the company getting involved in every meeting every day – from concept R & D, Engineering, purchase , sales , finance to HR right from 9 in the morning to 9 in the night.  and all those involved in each meeting spending hours everyday in preparing for the meetings and making minutes of the meetings and having meetings with their subordinates.

    The business schools of today need to De-emphasize these too many meetings syndrome to the MBAs.


    Meetings should not be in cozy  conference rooms but on the work floors -standing. This will automatically make them brief and action oriented.

    If the responsibility of calling a meeting is pushed down the person needing a discussion, opinion of others rather the the current top down approach then 90% of the meetings will become needless.

  2. stochastic excursion
    October 3, 2012

    Time is currency in marketing, and this can be a dilemma for projects that lack the requisite organization and planning.  Last-minute changes in design can add unnecessary worries to a marketing campaign, and executives can be led to postpone the effort.

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