The Chopping Block: What Marketing Projects Can You Kill?
Aaron Perlut | Partner

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.

Aaron Perlut

A former senior Omnicom (FleishmanHillard) counselor and communications executive for two of the nation’s largest energy companies, Aaron has spent more than 20 years in media and marketing helping a range of organizations — from Fortune 500s to professional sports franchises to economic development authorities to well-funded startups to non-profits — manage reputation and market brands in an evolving media environment.

An early adopter in the social media space, creating online communities and working closely with bloggers before they became accepted in mainstream media, Aaron develops unique marketing communications and reputation management strategies meant to break through the clutter of today’s crowded media environment that straddle both new and traditional media realms and has counseled organizations including H&R Block, Capital One, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, CafePress, the National Football League, aisle411, SunEdison, LockerDome, UPS, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Charter Communications, Papa John’s, and the Karate Kid Haircut Association.

He began his career as a television producer and continues to contribute to media including AdWeek, ForbesSocialMediaToday, VentureBeat, HuffingtonPost, ESPN.com and other outlets.

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