How to Stop MONSA (Marketing Ops New System Addiction)

The blessed ground troops of marketing operations know this struggle all too well: you have a system, say an email marketing system or a CRM, but it just doesn’t quite meet your needs. So what do you do? You buy a new system that promises to meet those needs, and go through implementation. The word “implementation” comes from the Latin word for “kick me in the head.” So, you “go live” and presto, all your problems are solved. Right? 99% of the time, not so much.

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Like Dug from “Up”, marketing ops is often plagued by the “SQUIRREL!” syndrome when the next start-up claims to have created the marketing system to end all systems. I mean, the sales rep said it was “seamlessly integrated” with all my other systems! It will connect your email platform, CMS, and CRM and show your boss how much money all your campaigns are generating! After you present the results at the next big meeting, the board will start chanting “R-O-I, R-O-I!” and carry you out above their heads on a blanket made entirely of 100-dollar bills.

Oh, how we love to try new software, just because it’s new, not because it’s proven. But did we mention it’s new! We could even be the first company to try it! What could possibly go wrong?

6 months later, you’ve spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in implementation, only to log in and realize, “um, this doesn’t really do what it said it would.” I’ve been there. It’s root canal painful. Even if you see red flags along the way, just like the ill-fated cast of Speed 2, it’s too late to turn around. It doesn’t have to be that way. Together, we can stem the tide of Marketing Operations New System Addiction (believe me, I tried to come up with a “T” to make it “MONSTA”).

So, Mr. Sales Guy, Define “Seamlessly Integrated”  

Oversell is also a chronic disease in systems-land. Take a stroll through the aisles of a major conference, let’s just say, hypothetically, one that rhymes with “Beet Furled,” and it all starts to blur together.
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With so many companies making similar promises, before you know it, you bought DataMarketOmniGemiAnalytifyLy Version 2.5. You’re not really sure what it does, but boy did they have a sweet display booth.

If you absolutely have to pursue a new system, how do you see through all the acronyms and get to the truth?

Ask the hard questions, and keep asking them beyond the first sales pitch. Get their engineers on the phone, ask your IT crew to join you to ask the “nerd” questions you might not know to ask, and don’t stop until you’re sure.

Ask for examples of successful integrations, and don’t relent until you’ve seen them or talked to people at companies they claim as “success stories.”

Use All Your Cylinders

Your existing systems may be more powerful than you think. You might be driving a Porsche, but think you need a McLaren because the Porsche just isn’t cutting it. Maybe you’re just not using all your cylinders. Take time to build out your current systems, and make sure your using all their functionality to their fullest potential. Talk to your system’s support team, sign up for extra training, see what type of customization they can build for you. Remember, you’re paying them to help, so don’t waste their expertise!

It’s not easy, and it may take time, but by halting the spread of MONSA, you can save yourself a boatload of time, energy, and pain implementing a system you didn’t need in the first place.

What About You? 

Have you or someone you love suffered from MONSA? How have you escaped its icy grasp? It’s okay, you can share, we’re all friends here. It’s just us and the Internet.

Wolverine on the Road to Damascus

Apostle Paul, Hugh Jackman

So, Hugh Jackman is playing the Apostle Paul in an upcoming Hollywood epic.

To save you the trouble when it comes out, allow me to preview your Facebook timeline so you don’t even have to log on that week.

1. Excited moviegoer: “Can’t wait to see my man Hugh Jackman as Paul! Wolverine on the road to Damascus, whaaaat.”

2. Excited moviegoer who just saw the movie: “Well, that was a wee bit different than the flannelgraphs from Sunday School, but Hugh Jackman though! Epic!”

3. Excited moviegoer’s conservative friend: “I cannot believe you would give your filthy lucre to the Hollywood film industry to promote such a vile twisting of such a powerful Scriptural story!”

4. *Excited moviegoer unfollows his conservative friend*

5. Excited moviegoer’s liberal friend (to conservative friend): “Stop being so close-minded, you Pharisee!”

6. Someone posts a Gospel Coalition Blog Post: “Saul The Wolverine: What Hollywood Got Wrong About Redemption & Transformation”

7. Someone posts a Opposing Blog Post from Liberal Blogger: “From Adam to Adamantium: Why We Should Be Happy that Hollywood is Even Making Biblical Movies”

8. Single female moviegoer: “Whew, Hugh Jackman is full of holy hotness, I need me a man like that to preach me the word with boldness!”

9. Me: “The Book is way better.”

On Turning 30 or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Double Stroller

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Behold, the glorious four-wheeled monster.

I turned 30 in May. My wife had thrown me a fantastic surprise party a week before my actual birthday. So on the eve of May 9th, I realized that in all the hoopla, I hadn’t really thought it over. I mean, you’re supposed to think these things over, right? So I began to ponder…successes, failures. Success = not being featured on any B-roll on network news stories about obesity (don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Failure = not landing that part in “Mission:Impossible 3” (Tom Cruise had better hair). I’ll admit, it got a little existential up in here for a while on the eve of the big day. But a few months in, 30 and I are becoming fast friends.

Shortly before my birthday, I went over to the mall (armed with a coupon of course) to buy some new brown shoes. You know the ones, the wear-every-day, here-I-am-marching-into-the-office-with-the-rest-of-corporate-America brown shoes. The I’m-now-wearing-these-with-jeans-and-an-untucked-dress-shirt-to-look-casual brown shoes. The last few times I’ve bought them, I confess, I chose comfort over fashion. We’re not talking EZ-Striders here, but we’re not talking chic. Mainly because I have old-guy feet. (TMI, I know.) So this time around, I resolved to not choose a pair that were too, um, “Dad-ish”. After wandering back and forth through the bewildering maze of Macy’s footwear and sparring with shoulder angels named “comfort” and “fashion,” I grew increasingly aware of the stares of the workers. Protip, 9:30 PM isn’t a great time to shop retail. They’re tired, you’re tired, all God’s children are tired.

Just as they’re about to close up shop, I decide to take the plunge and buy a pair of very “un-Dad-ish” Steve Madden chukka boots. Simultaneously oh-so-proud of myself but wondering “can I wear these everyday?” I take them home and try them on with my also very “un-Dad-ish” quasi slim-fit Lucky Brand jeans (steep clearance, trust me.) I’m oh-so-pleased with myself. Look how not “Dad-ish” I look. Maybe there is hope I’ll still be cool by the time my boys are teens. Okay, that’s probably not happening. But we’ll all be wearing silver jumpsuits and living in Jeff Bridges Tron houses by then, so it should be a moot point. I’m still wearing them, though I’m thinking of throwing some Dr. Scholls in there soon (cover blown!)

There are parts of this phase of life that I absolutely love. I love being able to play air guitar in the Target toy aisle with my 2-year-old (once he’s 13, he’ll probably call security on me.) I love when my kids make me belly-laugh, like when I asked the aforementioned toddler what a toy fish’s name was, to which he pondered a while, and responded emphatically, “Fish.” I love seeing my little family grow and change and okay sorry, I’m going all Hallmark channel all the sudden.

But as any parent will tell you, to say this phase is tiring is like saying a hurricane is a small wind, or that Donald Trump is a little bit opinionated. I’ve had moments where I nearly accidentally (on purpose) slugged a well-meaning coworker who strikes up small talk with the ubiquitous “so, sleeping through the night yet?” My firstborn had colic and acid reflux from about 3 weeks old to 4 months. Colic is a word that has no actual definition, but the working definition is every level of Dante’s Inferno piled into one crazy, never-ending, unexplained cry that probably isn’t stopping no matter what snake oil you Googled and groggily drove to Walgreens at 11:30 PM to track down. Acid reflux will lead you to say things like “I just don’t want to smell like puke any more.” And as the proverbial cherry on top, other well-meaning people will share this encouraging maxim: “this too shall pass.” This confirms that they are too far removed from this phase to remember what it was really like.

If there’s any one thing in my house that symbolizes “30-ness,” it’s the double stroller parked in the corner of my living room. I was skeptical at first. Getting it in and out of the car would wear Tony Horton out, and how on earth are we going to maneuver this beast around Target? This Britax behemoth can be legally parked in a compact car spot (and costs about as much), and I’m 99% sure Morgan Freeman once peeled around the underbelly of Wayne Enterprises in it with Christian Bale in tow. Until you fully experience its greatness, it may just look like a Graco on ‘roids. But it is a GLORIOUS machine. It can comfortably seat two little Barbas, which is gold on a long hike through the King of Prussia Mall. It can hold multiple diaper and shopping bags in its cavernous cargo hold. And if necessary, it can plow a wide swath through a madding shopper crowd. My apologies to your ankles, pedestrians, but seriously, LOOK at this thing!

There are definitely parts of the “pre-offspring” phase I miss. Like having an evening. These days, the “evening” starts around 9:00 PM (if I’m lucky) and usually consists of tiptoeing around the house to avoid waking them up (creaky hardwood floors!) and browsing Netflix for 30 minutes before drifting off to sleep (I mean to a nap, because a short person is probably waking up soon.)

I’m at peace with being 30, and I love being a dad. I know this phase will be over before I can say “how did you pour an entire bottle of salad dressing on your plate so fast?” and inexplicably, I’ll miss it. So until then, I’m throwing on my Steve Maddens, grabbing my double stroller and hitting the mall at 7:15 PM, because before I know it, this too will have passed.

We Are All “Creatives”

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I don’t believe there’s a line in the sand between the “creatives” and everyone else.

You don’t need a fixie, a pack of free-range, ethically-treated organic chicken, and the Complete Works of Wes Anderson to be a “creative.” I get the idea behind the moniker, but we’re all “creatives.” The data scientist is a storyteller as he gives the numbers a voice through his analysis. The operations manager takes a creative approach to system issues, because let’s face it, nothing is “seamlessly integrated.” The agency CEO masterfully weaves a vision of how his potential clients can reach success by partnering with his company.

I celebrate the beautiful mix of gray matter hemispheres that make up the mind! Every team needs a hearty mix to thrive and grow.

I’m a blend like all of us, though with a rightward lean. The arts are in my blood, from Shakespeare to Eric Whitacre to Ansel Adams. I adore the written word. I edit my text messages. I think in memes, haikus, and “would that fit in 140 characters?”

But I also have the Google Analytics app on my phone. I’ll chat with you for an hour about the best time to send an email. I’m an Asana fan, an obsessive list-maker, and I used to live by my Day-Runner (remember those? They were made of paper.)

So here’s to our powers combined. Here’s to relentless learning from each other.

Here’s to the “creatives.” All of us.