The Marketing Analytics Intersect

No matter the size of your company, there are always 47,292 things you could do. And, why not? You have amazing skills, you work very hard, and you have a savior complex!

Ok, maybe not that last one.

Still, there are always more things you can do for your company than you have time for.

When an individual is unhappy with their promotion trajectory, (*see caveat at the end), invariably the problem is that they are working on the wrong thing or they are working on too many things or they are working on small things.

The fix for this problem? Ruthless prioritization. Consistently.

While it is your manager’s job to help you define what’s on your plate, it’s been my experience that the skills required to manage your own to-do list are just as important as the PhD in Statistics you earned to get the job you are in.

Books have been written about the art of saying yes in the workplace. But, given the evolution of the modern work environment – with our 24x7 connected workplace and perceived persistent urgency of every little thing – I’ve come to believe that your ability to say no, even f’ no, is far more important in your ability to have material impact (and thus earn adoration and moolah).

Ruthless prioritization, FTW!

No matter your level is in your company.

So, how do you do that?

I welcome your tips and tricks, just hit reply. Here are some strategies I’ve used to prioritize what I’ll focus on (or when I’m leading a team, what the team will focus on):


#1. Focus on the largest pools of money.

How is my company earning the most amount of money? Where is my company spending the most amount of money? Where are the largest possible cost savings?

Am I working on the top three in either category? Or, evaluate intersects like: where the company is spending the most AND it is also the largest revenue driver?

If the answer is yes, it is likely that you are working on what is most important to your company. Any objective review – by any senior leaders, in your hierarchy or not – of your results you deliver will have a direct line of sight with the company’s bottom-line.

If the answer is no, I’ve discovered that my career is not going anywhere and it will likely be the same for you. You need to ruthlessly re-prioritize.

(If you have to ever break a tie among those three questions, based on my experience being laid off twice in my career, I recommend ALWAYS aligning yourself with the largest drivers of revenue. (If you are good at it) You’ll be the last one to be laid off.)


#2. Focus on the most senior leader’s biggest priorities/worry.

In my current chain of command the most senior leader will be the CMO. In your case it might be the CIO, CFO, CSO, etc.

Choose to focus on your leader’s biggest priorities for the year (or two years, but not further out). The chances are really high that your CxO’s biggest priorities overlap with the three questions above. And, if your CxO cares so much about Thing 1 and Thing 2, then you can bet your bottom dollar that your impact on those priorities will be visible and rewarded.

Every senior leader is freaked out about something. It might not even be that big (or has not quite gotten big enough, yet). But, if your CxO is worried about something then they will welcome, with deep affection, anyone who is going to work towards getting their worry resolved.

(The ideal scenario is always that your priorities are rank-ordered by what’s important to the CEO of the company. It is such a clarifying True North. Depending on your company, or country, it might be the case that what’s important to your CEO is not important to your direct line CxO. Even in cases where those two are aligned, your CEO might not speak for you. Hence, heartbreakingly focusing on the CEO can turn out to be a career strategy that carries risk. Take this into account.)


#3. Focus on the leaders/projects getting that get the most headcount/funding.

Here’s a wild guess: You believe your team needs 2x to 5x more people, because you all can have such a massive impact due to your brilliance!

Here’s a wild guess: You are not getting 2x to 5x more people.

It is your company’s way of saying: Hey you are important, just not that important.

: )

Most of the time, the allocation of headcount and the allocation of budgets to any team is a simple and visible signal of what’s important to the company. So. Align your priorities based on that signal.

If Leader X from Area Y is getting a lot of the funding – or giving you a lot of funding (!!) – re-orient your time spent, your team’s time spent, based on that. That will ensure that, a.) you are aligned with the ok this is what’s important to the company signal and b.) the results that you deliver will be visible to Leader X and they’ll ensure your recognition (and money!).

If everyone else is getting funding, or their team is growing, and yours is not, then that is a precious signal about your priorities.


#4. Focus on the teams/leaders who action your intelligence.

You are working super hard and delivering brilliant creativity and innovative ideas and even your mom can’t believe how genius your insights are (congratulations on that last one, it is hard to get that!).


But, teams, or leaders who receive your brilliant ideas, are not activating your ideas. They may tell you how great you are, and they might even give you a bonus. Still… If you notice over time that they are not doing what you are saying should be done… Something is wrong.

It could be you. It could be that your ideas are not big enough. It could be that you’ve not persuaded the powers that be on the size of impact your recommendations. It could be that you are solving the wrong problem. It could be 50 other valid reasons.

Here’s the bottom-line: If your work does not get implemented/amplified/used at scale… If not in the short-term then in the medium term, your perceived value will be zero. You need a different set of priorities for yourself/your team.

Your career is only going to grow if people take advantage of your brilliant work. If you keep talking, and there is no action then it is time for ruthless re-prioritization.


Special Case #1: Consultant/Independent Vendor.

You are a bird, you love your freedom, and you’ve thrown off your corporate yoke. Congratulations! :)

Sometimes you don’t have a choice – for any number of good reasons – and you have to take whatever work you can. Totally ok.

If you are able to be discerning, I encourage you to use pretty much the same prioritization criteria above with the work you could do for a client. Focus on the work that has large pools of money behind it. Ask to take on the client’s biggest headaches. Look for clients who’ll do what you want, based on your brilliant insights.

As Consultant you don’t have as much access to client reality (or influence). Hence, it is easy to get “trapped” into doing $80/hr work. Using the four clusters of guidance above can help you move to $800/hr work (or $8,000/hr, just as you deserve!).


Special Case #2: Comfort Zone.

If you are working on a job where you are coming every day, solving problems and you are putting in the number of hours that is expected of you, it is entirely appropriate for you to be in your personal comfort zone and stay there.

You get to choose if you want to get on the upwards or sidewards trajectory of the modern corporation. Find where that fit exists between team / role / you, and make the choice that you are most comfortable with.

If you are professionally happy, there are no wrong answers.


Life is complex, and I’m not recommending that you apply all four of my recommended strategies at the same time. They are roughly in priority order. Try #1, if that does not work move to #2, so on and so forth.

Look at the three items taking up 80% of your time, are they focused on the largest earning, spend or cost savings in your company? If not, why not?

Bottom-line: You will spend more time at work than you will be with the person/s you love the most in the world. The amount of emotional space you are currently committing to your peers/boss/team/company is 100x more than you are committing to your family/love. (Don’t blame the player, blame the game!). Hence, you might as well ensure that you are working on what’s important, what’ll have a big impact. At least then, you drive a truck full of money (and a heart full of pride) from work to home every single day!

Ruthless prioritization.


Earlier this week I did a podcast with Mitch Joel, Rock Star of Digital Marketing. It was an insights rich discussion where we pushed each other's thinking, I think you'll enjoy it: Six Pixels of Separation: Avinash Kaushik On The State of Analytics.

* There are cases where someone is out to get you, and hence you are not being promoted/dollar rewarded. There are also cases where the impact on the business is not what’s primarily valued, and hence you are not being promoted/dollar rewarded. In my experience both of these cases are exceedingly rare.

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