Good morning, friends…

Sliding into the weekend like:



(Yes, you should see it.)

In edition #34 of the World's Best Newsletter:

1. Managing a remote content marketing team
2. Blink and miss how tech has changed retail
3. On empathy for the antagonist
4. “Ruthless prioritization is an art form”
5. What’s the difference between strategic ROI and attribution
6. "One of the top three webinars I've ever attended" now on-demand
7. Quote of the week
8. Open jobs!


1. Managing a remote content marketing team


The incomparable Devin Bramhall, Director of Content at HelpScout recently gave an excellent insider-baseball type view into how she manages a content team spanning three time zones and a blog with over 70,000 subscribers. 

One piece of advice that I felt really resonated is related to tools. Choose them thoughtfully:

“If the tool checks 80 percent of our top features and 20 percent of our “nice-to-have” features, and my team likes it, then I’ve found the right tool.”

And commit to them:

“We’ve adapted, leveraged integrations heavily, and tried not to sweat the rest. I’ve never found a 'silver bullet' tool for anything, so I focus on making what we have work.”

I also really like her template for a weekly communication update.

Read more in her full, excellent, post.



2. Blink and miss how tech has changed retail


This perspective from Millard “Mickey” Drexler, trendsetting chairman of J.Crew and the guy behind Gap’s 90s successes, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Madewell, admits how quickly technology has changed the world of retail.
Excerpts from the full WSJ article:

“He didn’t appreciate how the quality of garments could easily get lost in a sea of options online, where prices drive decisions, or how social media would give rise to disposable fashion. Online, price has more impact than the sensory qualities of clothing.”

“Now, competitors with high-tech, data-driven supply chains can copy styles faster and move them in a matter of weeks. Online marketplaces drive down prices, and design details such as nicer buttons / richer colors are less apparent on the internet. Social media adds fuel to the style churn - consumers want a new outfit for every Instagram post.”

He admits, “we became a little too elitist in our attitude.” 

“Many visionaries focus on doing what they do best, even when the ground shifts beneath them. From newspapers to television, successful companies have been upended by disruptive technologies. Facebook Inc. is now the world’s largest publisher; Netflix Inc. is worth twice as much as CBS Corp."


3. On empathy for the antagonist


“You don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s a protagonist in his own version of the world.” - John Rogers

This quote has two relevant meanings to me this week. First of all, there are two sides to every story… something I think we forget in today’s sensationalist quick-share media landscape.

And, although this advice is intended for screenwriters, we can learn a thing or two as marketers. Much of marketing centers on our ability to identify a protagonist (hopefully our customers), and their foe, our antagonist. 

But, just as we need to understand the day in the life, the “why” behind our story’s main characters, we need to understand foes just as well.

Often the strongest antagonist in business is the ‘status quo’ - how customers were solving a problem before you got there. Think what they were doing with spreadsheets before a CRM tool. 

Related: Read Ardath Albee’s perspective on status quo: 

To change them from the status quo, you must first understand that state of being. 

Quoting Ardath:

“In a recent conversation, a client voiced concern that we were starting too early in the process. Comments such as, 'this is a mature market, they know they need to change,' came up as I probed deeper.

My response was, 'If that’s true, then why aren’t they actively pursuing change? What’s stopping them?'

There’s a big difference between knowing change is available and making the decision that change is needed, as well as taking action to do something about it. This human behavior is what marketing must address first and foremost.

Regardless of what you think your prospects and customers already know, they still have a status quo. If you can’t motivate them to move from that position, you can’t sell them anything. Period. End of discussion.” 

Get to know the status quo as well as you get to know your customer. Then, you can go about helping them realize the need for change - and guide them in how to get there through your marketing. 



4. “Ruthless prioritization is an art form”


(First spotted from a tweet by Elle Woulfe.)

Tim Kopp is a CMO-turned-VC at Hyde Park Venture Partners (he was CMO at ExactTarget through acquisition by SFDC.) Quoting his article:

“The real secret to success? Dig deep to uncover and understand the priorities and goals that are most important for you to achieve and work backwards to achieve them. Determining what to say 'no' to might be even more critical than what to say 'yes' to. In other words, you must become obsessed with 'the what' versus 'the how.'”


5. What’s the difference between strategic ROI and attribution?


From client Sam Melnick:

"Change the conversation from 'What did this activity do for me?' to 'What is marketing’s overarching goals? Are we meeting/beating expectations?' and 'What is the right formula for success?"

"To become truly strategic members of the organization, CMOs must be able to demonstrate stewardship over every dollar spent. Only Strategic ROI can deliver that level of prescriptive, actionable insight. Attribution, to its credit, is an important part of the journey, but not the end game many CMOs and marketing executives will need to maintain trust, and job security."


6. "One of the top three webinars I've ever attended" now on-demand

Don't miss the replay of this week's ABM webinar hosted by me and featuring CMO and marketing technology expert Jon Russo. 


7. Quote of the week


The late Pat Summit, the most successful NCAA college basketball coach and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom award, would have been 65 this past week. This week’s quote of the week is hers:

“It is what it is. But, it will be what you make it.” 

I’m a fervent believer in our need to accept the duality of chaos as well as control. I said goodbye to a close friend this week who is moving home to take care of her mother, recently diagnosed with cancer. We spoke deeply about the nature of life - change is the only real constant. It is what it is.

At the same time, there is so much more within our control, how we react to life, what opportunities we create, what connections we make, what we can learn, how we bounce back, how we love and how we give back. All of that is within our grasp. It will be what you make it. 

8. Open jobs!

Marketing Associate at Catalant, Boston. I'm told your coworkers will be super smaaht and wicked fun. 

Content Writer at Version 2.0 Communications, Boston. I know for sure your coworkers will be super smaaht and wicked fun.  

Have a great weekend.


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