Get a Bigger Hammer

BigHammerBack in my younger days I thought a cordless drill was just a cordless drill. I invested in a low-voltage rechargeable for about $10 and was satisfied. When I bought my first house that drill came with me, and for the little jobs I did here and there, it sufficed. Then house #2 came along.

As this was our second house, my wife and I were not only able to be smarter about how we wanted things placed (it’s amazing how much easier it is to hang Christmas lights when you have outlets on the outside of your house, placed just under the eaves) we were also into our own, post build customizations.

I kept trying to use my old drill, but I found myself getting more and more frustrated the more I used it; it couldn’t drill into the frame of the house when I installed our security door so I resorted to using my ratchet set (and suffered scraped knuckles and angry stares from neighbors – thanks to my cursing – as a result). I regressed looking for a better solution and ended up taking just as long, if not longer, to finish tasks. Eventually, I went out and bought a nice set of high-voltage cordless tools (drill, saws, lamp, etc. – the Works). I learned my lesson: you really DO need the right tool to get the job done. Otherwise you can waste a lot of time and effort by settling for something that is just good enough.

This same mantra holds true when discussing online activities. Whether it’s the right CMS, the right hosting plan (can that site work in Shared, or do you need a VPS), or even the right development environment, you really need to understand some basics before you go jumping into a solution, and before you buy a specific tool for the job.

One of the things we’re starting to do from a marketing standpoint is answer 3 simple questions before we invest in any tool or promotional outlet:

1. Who is the audience?
2. What are we trying to accomplish?
3. What is our expected outcome?

Those 3 questions set our expectations, and the expectations of upper management, and they provide us with a basis for tracking effectiveness and outcome (when possible). Without this simple routine we wouldn’t have a good, solid basis behind what we’re doing, and we would possibly buy the wrong tool for the job.

In a future post I want to show how these 3 questions guided us to a redesign of our newsletter, and even further, to how we decided to use a third party for delivery of that redesigned mailer. For the time being, if you find yourself struggling with a task, and suffering as a result, take a step back, take a few deep breaths, and ask yourself if it’s time for a bigger hammer.

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