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The Chopping Block: What Marketing Projects Can You Kill?


Last week, I shared the 5% Method of Optimizing Your Marketing. The core concept involved listing all of your marketing projects and killing the bottom five percent, diverting those resources to the top five percent and so on until you’re operating at an optimal level.

A few folks had some questions about that bottom five percent, however. Namely, what qualifies a project to be be placed on the chopping block and ultimately killed? That’s a very good question, one that unfortunately varies from brand to brand. So, the direct answer is, “It depends.”

Still, I thought it would be useful to list a few qualifiers I’ve used in the past to signify that a marketing project is in the kill zone. Here are some to consider:

  • The project is not producing a positive return on investment with at least six months of traction OR cannot be reasonably expected to return significantly higher results within the next six months.
  • The project is not producing at least the average return on investment of other projects on your list that are considered successful.
  • The project requires more resources (human, time or financial) than many other projects without having the same kind of return or impact.
  • The project does not directly support a strategic goal of the marketing effort.
  • The project requires resources or approvals from outside of the marketing team that prolong or complicate decision-making.
  • The team collectively considers the project a time suck or has a negative perception of it.
  • You cannot articulate the benefit of the project to your boss in 1-2 sentences.
  • You cannot articulate the “why” of the project to anyone in 1-2 sentences.

Certainly, some of these will apply and some will not. If you aren’t trying to drive revenue in a project, the return on investment requirements will need to be reconsidered. If the project’s nature is to require more resources to build or optimize it, or if there are significant returns expected once it’s launched or optimized, you should exert some patience.

But all of these are items to consider when looking at your marketing projects with the idea of minimizing or optimizing your efforts.

At the end of the day, if you don’t feel conflicted about killing it, then you’re probably doing the right thing by doing so. If you feel there’s hope for the project yet, then perhaps it doesn’t fall into your five percent.

That’s my take. What’s yours? How do you judge your marketing projects to know when or when not to quit while you’re ahead? The comments are yours.

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