The hour is late: Achieving 1Q Goals

With less than thirty days to go in the quarter, my mind returns to the business goals we set a few months ago. Some of those OKRs were related to organizational capabilities but the ones that are top of mind relate to pipeline progression and sales. This quarter. Next quarter. You probably have your own metrics that you’re tracking. So what do you do if things aren’t going right?

As a relatively new company we’re still gathering enough data to reliably predict the trends in some places. We’ve made significant investments in getting the right data — we’re disciplined CRM users, we track our marketing activities, and we instrument our platform so we get feedback on utilization. The key is not the data itself but how you put it to work running the business.

I was speaking to a digital marketing leader at a publishing company last week. He was talking about how they’re applying advanced text analytics (embeddings for you geeks out there) to help them with content findability. With tens of millions of documents, they’ve got a fairly unique challenge that is defying traditional search techniques.

One of his challengers is that they don’t have a reliable measure of success for his area. We’re going to talk more about that and see if we can help to set them up for success in the future.

Chicken meet egg

With performance being top of mind I wondered to myself about his ability to demonstrate achievements in 1Q and beyond. I also wondered what I’d do in his place if I were looking forward and trying to build a performance management system that makes sense. That will move the ball downfield. It’s easy to succumb to the desire to work on this next quarter. That’s the wrong instinct. Now is the time. Next quarter will be over before you know it.

There are four things I’d do.

1. In-quarter demonstration of value

No matter how rudimentary your measurement portfolio, you probably have a sense of what success looks like and where your most obvious problems lay.  Find your highest-odds areas of success and go look at that, now. Is there something you can do this week that will change things next week?

The experiment can be modest and half-baked. But it will allow you to demonstrate that you’re taking the issue seriously, and have a bias for action. It may also slightly improve things.

I often recommend people start where they have friends. You know these people. Sometimes they are actually friends, but more often than not they’re the ones who simply nodded in agreement while others were shaking their heads. These are your lab partners.

2. Convene the experts

Whether it’s people within your department, elsewhere in the org or a vendor, you need to demonstrate that you’re able to track progress. This means metrics.

This work will arc into next quarter but by taking the reins this quarter you demonstrate that the measurement gap has both importance and urgency.

Resist the entreaties of some experts that the measurements already exist in some analytics system. That’s Holy Grail talk. If it were there you’d have found it. Someone else would already be using it.

The one thing you might have is data that could be constructed into metrics. Be open to that serendipity but don’t bet on it.

3. Establish a replicable management system

Demonstrating that you’ve got things under control usually requires not only measurements but a feedback and correction mechanism.

This is team sport. Who are the people who are going to enable your success? What organizations are going to be blockers? Who is the person who has the skills to run this thing?

This is another area where your friends can help. Make sure you have allies with you at the table. It’s hard to do this alone.

4. Communicate

Talk to your boss, your peers and those outside you team about what you’re trying to achieve. Create a framework that is clear and concise. Can you fit it on one chart?

Also, don’t forget to listen aggressively while you’re communicating. Part of team sport is knowing the other players well and being able to respond to their ideas. The sum is greater than the parts.

Today

Today is when this starts. Clear your calendar. Get moving. Knowing that a deadline looming sharpens the mind. Yes, everyone else is focused on their goals when deadlines loom, but you’d be surprised how generous people can be. Find them. Get moving. Today.

Post originally published on Biznology

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

SearchChat Podcast: Is AI Bigger than the Internet?

In a recent study,  63% of CEOs agreed that AI will have more impact on their business than the internet. Think about that for a minute. The internet. And yet, 23% said they had no plans to do anything about it. Why? Partially, people tend to overestimate how much data they need to get to a reliable result for utilizing AI

Steve and I think it’s possible for most businesses to start implementing machine learning. The new exciting thing is behavioral personalization. Among privacy concerns and the world of GDPR, behavioral personalization is a way to use data that isn’t identifying. Instead, we can match patterns with other user’s patterns. You have more data than you think. You need less data than you think. And adequate new data is more accessible than you think.

What ways can you implement AI using the data you have now, to totally change the visitor journey? It’s about creating patterns and solving problems. Take a listen!

0:00 Intro

1:50 Behavioral personalization changes customer experience

9:30 Are you planning for the AI future, now?

21:35 AI and behavioral personalization combine to create a new visitor journey

27:50 Outro

SearchChat is available on

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Will AI Kill Emotion in Marketing?

Artificial intelligence is a huge buzzword across marketing right now, with over 60% of CEOs saying AI will have a larger impact on their businesses than the internet. Let that soak in for a moment. A larger impact than the internet. ‘Cause, y’know, that’s been a non-event over the last couple decades.

Of course, I’ve talked with a number of marketers who worry that this shift will make them obsolete — that once the machines are in charge, their creativity and passion and emotion will take a back seat to algorithms, to math, to machines.

But is this true? Will AI kill emotion in marketing?

Let’s get the obvious answer out of the way. No, AI does not kill emotion in marketing. Not even close. Suggesting that artificial intelligence kills emotion in marketing is like claiming email, or the internet, or television or whatever technology came before or will emerge in the future kills emotion in marketing. Because marketing is about connecting with customers. And customers, in pretty much every case that I’ve run into across my career, are, y’know, people. And people are emotional. Always.

In fact, I’d argue most marketing, most sales, depends on emotion. IBM famously used to close sales with technology leaders by reminding them, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM.” If that’s not an emotional sell, I don’t know what is.

Instead, here’s what artificial intelligence will do — and in many cases, is doing already. AI does a great job of content recognition and recommendation. My friends at SoloSegment have worked with one client to expose the right content to around 20,000 additional customers every month. These are customers who knew what they wanted, were well along the way on their customer journey, and still were failing to find the information they were looking for on the client site. Even if each of those customers only convert about 1% of the time, that’s two hundred additional conversions — 200 additional sales opportunities — every single month. That’s incredibly powerful.

That effect is even more powerful when combined with the kinds of emotionally-resonant content that great marketers know how to produce.

AI can also help marketers process huge amounts of data. In fact, artificial intelligence often requires large data sets to learn how to provide the best value to marketers. The upside is that it makes understanding that data quite a bit easier. You know why you haven’t heard folks talking as much about “big data” over the last couple years? Because, as a friend of mine always says, AI makes big data little. And better still, most marketers don’t like spending their time digging into data. They’d rather spend their time focused on customers. That’s a Good Thing™. But the algorithms can process the data about what your customers do, what they care about, what motivates them to guide you to deeper understanding of the people you’re trying to connect with. Let the machines do what they’re good at. And that will let you focus on what you’re good at: Emotion. Passion. People.

Let’s be clear, AI isn’t going away anytime soon. But neither are people. The marketers who will achieve the greatest success in the coming years are those who know how to harness the power of artificial intelligence and pair it with a deep appreciation for people, for emotion, for passion. It’s not “AI or emotion.” It’s “AI and emotion.” It’s technology and people. It’s logic and passion.

AI continues to dramatically shape marketing. But so will the creative choices you make as a marketing professional. Use it to better understand your customers, to better connect customers with the content that matters to them, and to continue to deliver emotionally-resonant, customer-focused messages. Who knows? You might just learn to love it. And that’s an emotion we can all use more of, today and every day.

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About Tim Peter