Fast, slow, and assumptions: The challenges in business management and marketing

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Sometimes things move quickly, sometimes they go slowly, and sometimes there is communication and misunderstanding.

Sometimes it seems like business life hurtles at a seemingly unimaginable speed. And sometimes it seems things move at a snail’s pace.

I felt both of these sensations yesterday as I worked on some projects.

In one, a salesperson expressed frustration about the lack of progress and success in her market area, and after consulting with the company’s lead salesperson, I came up with a strategy to generate some leads/opportunities and reduce stress. The immediate challenge: Discovering a suitable and actionable email list related to a highly specific market niche.

(The strategy of gathering and ‘mining’ emails for marketing is illegal in Canada under our country’s stringent anti-spam legislation, but quite legal in the US. We have an inexpensive US-based server-managed email management program (basic fee was a one time $50 charge, and it has quite effective spam control and list management capacities.)

I went to Freelancer.com, described my objectives with a brief post, and within two minutes, had five contenders to complete the work. One volunteered to generate a sample list. Once I was satisfied the list met the specification, we set the $100 CDN contract, and within three hours, the service provider had delivered the content.

Talk fast . . .

As for slow, the collection of stalled, incomplete, and unfinished projects remains a constant gnawing point. We have systems built into our business processes to remind ourselves of initiatives that were set, but haven’t yet been completed. These are in the form of “action items” with specific deadline dates. As the date approaches, they are raised and discussed at regular meetings, if they aren’t resolved. It is a good system — but some projects go on, and on and on.

Effective marketing, of course, requires a combination of fast and slow. You need to be ready to respond quickly to opportunities and capture innovations, but some work requires much patience — the business cycle in this industry requires that!  You can’t rush things no matter how much more quickly you would like things to go.

And of course there are misunderstandings.

During one of the meetings this week, I reported to my colleagues about a joint venture project that we had initiated but seemed to be going nowhere. I reported that the counterparty hadn’t responded to my emails or phone messages. I told my colleagues that the project appeared to be dead.

Then our chief sales representative said: “He (the counterparty) sent an email to me this morning explaining he would be in touch next week . . .”  I said I hadn’t received the email.  In fact, it had been caught in my spam filter.

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