Take The Oath Of Office
As I sat watching President Obama sign his first executive orders, it made me think about the first 100 days of an executive term and how that sets the tone for the whole time as leader. There is a great read
by Michael Watkins, "The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels," that is a must-have for any manager or leader in a new role. Some of the principles in this book are important to people running eCRM and email programs for major corporations. The theme of the book is one we should all take into account TODAY: "You've just been promoted to a new leadership position and you're not sure of the challenges ahead of you or how you will meet them ... all you know is you have three months to get on top of the job and move forward -- or fail."
As an agency, service provider, or marketing manager, this is very much the real world.
According to Watkins, your plan should consist of seven core elements (and I'll skew this toward leaders who run email channels):
1. Promote yourself -- You either know email marketing, have experience, or you don't. You'd better gain this credibility internally, quickly. This starts with contextualizing your experience to the channel you are taking on, and socializing it internally. Credibility will be the catalyst to all your ideas -- and you can quickly lose your leverage if you don't capitalize quickly.
2. Accelerate your learning -- I love this point. Email isn't hard, but what makes a great marketer is adapting tactics and best practices to your world and your customer situation. You have to do this quickly through reading, vetting with experts and asking the right questions to give you the ammo and outlet to make advances from your ideas.
3. Match strategy to situation -- One size doesn't fit all, but in email a lot of fundamental things can work in any industry. Your situation consists of a combination of resource, budget, partners and market demands. You have to get creative, and give yourself options to get the work done that you know will move the needle.
4. Secure early wins -- We do this all the time in agency land: build a roadmap and knock out short-term wins and socialize it well. This is critical. Nice thing about the email channel is, things can be done at Internet speed. Introduce a welcome series, do specific targeting of high value customers or one of a hundred tactics that work in email, and get it out the door quickly so you have a foundation to back up your credibility.
5. Negotiate success -- We all have interdepartmental dependencies, but we are alone when it comes to budget. It's vital that you build a solid business model that shows the value of your efforts in terms that serve you in negotiations. This may be with a peer in another department who owns the Web site, or it may be the senior team in budget discussions, but without something tangible, you are negotiating uphill.
6. Achieve alignment -- Whenever I've taken over new business units or businesses, I always build a plan with dependencies. For email, I know I can affect response and react, but in many cases I can't completely control conversion, average order value or even repeat purchase frequency. Unless you own the point of conversion and all variables around it, you have a dependence, and you have to work to align this with the other channels. Multichannel marketing is effective, but takes a lot of alignment.
7. Build your team --With today's economy, you shouldn't have a hard time finding an experienced email manager, but it's critical that you get real about what your team will look like and what your delivery model will be (in-source, outsource or joint-source).
While the explanations above of each element of the plan are not in the same context as the book, "The First 90 Days," I recommend you put it in your library. Regardless of whether you are new to a position or have been in the role for a term, these are new times with new challenges, and you should treat the next 90 days as if they were your first 90 days. You'll be amazed at the perspective you gain.