Ideas Are Cheap – Time To Re-Focus On Process and People

Posted by Taylor Haney on Mon, Nov 4, 2013

Excited to start up our guest blog series again this month. To start it off we have a post from Eric Sherman, Senior Marketing Manager at Rue La La. Eric gives some great insight into perfecting the work process to foster great ideas. Interested in guest blogging? E-mail [email protected]

Eric ShermanEric Sherman is a Senior Marketing Manager at Rue La La. He runS their paid advertising programs to drive new and repeat buyers. He has been with the company for over 5 years and is currently finishing his MBA from Babson College.

Technically, I’m a marketer. I run ads so people will buy more from my company then they would have on their own. I was going to feature exciting ideas around Data, Digital Marketing Channels and User Experience and how they have the potential to create transformative growth for e-commerce firms and consumers alike. However, I’m going to ignore the ideas because like all good ideas they are useless without great execution. Across many digital and e-commerce firms, I see real inefficiencies around idea creation and execution. It is time to re-focus on the people and processes of getting work done, so good ideas can drive great results.

The capabilities of our digital world seem endless, but only if there are processes that allow us to leverage them properly. In addition, we need people who can bring expertise all while having the holistic understanding of how they fit into the larger picture of a project. This plays to the strengths of our digital tools and allows the sum of our efforts to be greater than the parts.

I reviewed my last several initiatives here at Rue La La and found that at least five different departments worked on each project – often more. The departments ranged from creative to technology to legal, user experience, finance and beyond. So, maybe these initiatives were not “mine” at all. I simply helped guide the team down the field and into the end zone. I’ve realized, the digital world has an assembly line and it is as vital to producing the best output, similar to physical manufacturing creating a widget. However, unlike physical manufacturing, our product/output can be developed, released, analyzed and re-released smarter, all in real time. This requires a different type of workflow that embraces and integrates the human and technical sides of digital and is less start to finish oriented.

As marketers, we need people with different perspectives and skill sets work on our digital projects. Expertise and focus is important, but can hurt our work as well. Too often, people work on projects without the required understanding of the larger picture they operate within. In this digital world, one cannot work in a functional silo. Departmental divides must be broken down while maintaining the level of expertise needed to execute each part of the creation process. Rarely do firms empower associates to branch out and be exposed to the other areas that are part of the workflow they participate in. This move would create better culture, happier associates and of course, better results. Specialization is necessary, but not at the expense of a higher level holistic understanding of how each person’s piece fits into the overall puzzle.

Even with well a balanced team, having the right process to empower them is required in order to maximize return. The process should connect the creation and execution of ideas in a continuous cycle. It is lean, iterative and innovative by nature. Do something, do it fast, do it smart and leverage the findings to start again, smarter than before. Data drives a decision, which develops the output, which powers the launch, which brings in results, which drives an insight, which re-starts the process.

THE LEAN DIGITAL ASSEMBLY LINE – A CONTINUOUS CYCLE

rue blog chart

When we hear the word ‘process,’ rigid, static and inflexible comes to mind. However, that does not have to be the case. This system is meant to create structure and propel ideas that will be executed by well rounded specialists all while using data as intelligent and impactful as possible. It creates lanes, not tracks and guidelines, not rules. I by no means take credit for this process, but certainly see that the majority of firms do not truly commit to it and the business and consumers suffer alike.

Again, I promise, I’m a marketer, but I find myself spending a lot of time on operations. It has forced me to better understand the different people/steps required to create a great result. We must go outside our direct focus as our specialty must work within other areas of expertise. I am responsible for the strategic development, execution and optimization, so I know if I do not have a stable, self fulfilling process, the ideas won’t go live and the insights will never find their way in to drive my next move. By breaking down barriers and creating the launch pad for efficient and impactful work, we can begin to have a shot at turning good ideas into transformative results.