Monday Mornings with Madison

Monthly Archives:
May 2014

Attention Deficit, Part 1

There is a famous line from the movie Karate Kid (the 2010 remake) when Mr. Han, the Karate teacher, tells his pupil — who insists he is concentrating intently — that “Your focus needs more focus.” Despite the student’s insistence that he was focused, his level of focus was lacking. It is a problem that possibly everyone grapples with today. With all the diversions and noise that compete for our attention and energy in today’s world, it can be very easy to fall prey to distraction.

Do these scenarios sound familiar? Three people are in a meeting and one or more are repeatedly interrupted by incoming calls or text messages. Two colleagues are speaking by phone and suddenly one person is distracted replying to an email. Outside, a person walks down the street but is so completely immersed reading LinkedIn posts that he is almost hit by a car. Indoors and out, attention is drawn to pinging smart phones, rotating billboards, ticker-tape scrolling news feeds, bus bench ads, flashing neon signs and more, all screaming “Look at me!”. The demands for attention are everywhere.

The truth is that, for most people, their focus does need more focus. The dictionary defines focus as “the concentration of attention or energy on something.” Attention and energy are essential elements of focus. Attention describes how well you can shut out all else in order to give one thing full consideration or thought. Energy relates to how much or how long you can sustain that focus. That begs the question, just how much and how long should a person be able to focus on something without being distracted (by choice or chance)? How deeply and sharply should someone be able to concentrate on one thing without redirecting or quitting? More importantly, what — if anything — can be done to improve focus? And, if everyone is being driven to distraction, just how much is this lack of focus — by employees and customers alike — affecting businesses? Continue reading

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The Power of A-B Testing – Part 2

Last week we looked at the power and purpose of A-B testing. We defined A-B testing as a simple random experiment with two variables or options, A and B, which are the control and treatment in the experiment. As the name implies, two versions (A and B) are compared, which are identical except for one variation that might affect the behavior. Version A might be the currently used version (control), while Version B is modified in some respect (treatment).

A-B testing is used in all kinds of applications, business and otherwise. Given today’s complex marketplace, companies often use it to either determine or validate the best approach for sales and marketing efforts. In marketing, it can be used to test the effectiveness of digital ads, web pages, online tools, web offers, client preferences, and email, among other things. While it is an illuminating approach for assessing and optimizing sales and marketing efforts, A-B testing requires patience, tracking and lots of data analysis. A company’s leadership must be willing to commit the resources and provide the tools to be able to do A-B testing effectively. Let’s look at best practices for A-B testing in sales and marketing and debunk some myths and mistakes related to this powerful tool.
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The Power of A-B Testing – Part 1

What, When and How To Test

Imagine this scenario. The sales manager and production manager are working with marketing to create a promotional email for the company. After deciding on a message, they discuss what time of day to deploy the eblast. Sam thinks it should be sent at the beginning of the workday, around 9am, as usual. Mike disagrees and thinks it should be sent at the end of the day, around 9pm.

To make his case, Mike cites a recent study by Experian Marketing Services which analyzed the best time of the day to send emails. The study found that emails sent between 8pm and 11:59pm had the highest unique open rate (21.7%), highest unique click rate (4.2%), and highest transaction rate (0.34). Those were all considerably higher than during any other time of day. It was also the time of day when recipients received the lowest volume of emails. Sam is unconvinced. He cites a DEG study that found that the highest email open time ran from around 8am to about 1pm, with a small dip around 11am. Moreover, the DEG study indicated that statistically the worst open rate time was 8pm. With such different results and opinions, what should the marketing department do? If the marketing department is savvy, the answer is to do both. Say hello to the power of A-B testing. Continue reading

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When to Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

In every organization, business or department, there are times when a leader needs to step up and lead… chart a course, share a vision, give direction, motivate, encourage and guide. There are other times when a manager or director needs to listen to the wise counsel of one who knows more, hand the reigns over and follow his/her lead. And then there are times when management just needs to get out of the way and allow the company stakeholders to move forward… let a group function or allow a process to unfold.

It takes skill and talent to lead others. It takes earned trust and respect to follow someone else’s lead. And it takes faith to get out of the way and allow all the cogs in the machinery to turn as they should. The real challenge is to understand when to do each. That discernment is what differentiates great leaders from mediocre ones. So how does a team leader, department manager, division director or c-suite exec develop the discernment to know when to lead, follow or get out of the way? It takes practice, intuition, patience, trust and a sizeable measure of experience. Continue reading

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