Take a Vacation and Become More Efficient
You’ve probably had this experience before: You start with a simple mailing of several segments of a customer file with a few key codes. Before you know it, you have dozens of different codes for customer segments, and you’re producing different messages and catalog covers for each. What started as a menial task has turned into a complex process. And this inevitably leads to frustration.
Sometimes you can only see how your once-easy system has spiraled out of control when you return from vacation and begin to reimmerse yourself in all the segments and production work flows. Or, sometimes you experience this after a mental vacation by focusing your efforts on something else for a few days. This results in your pre-vacation self trying to explain your system to your post-vacation self. You’re seeing your work methods with fresh eyes.
One might experience a flash of insight after several hours of struggling. You step away from your desk and ask yourself, “Why am I doing things this way when it would be so much easier to do it another way?” Hold onto that moment. Before you sit back down and try to rewrite your key codes and report templates, stand back and think about what’s just happened. You’re looking at your situation from an outside perspective for a few minutes.
I’ve found these moments to be terrifically valuable. Spotting confusing or cumbersome methods of data management, coding, analyzing and reporting, among other things, gives you a chance to streamline or eliminate them. The savings in time and reduced confusion can improve the planning and management of your mailings, and, as such, result in big cost savings, as well. I’ve witnessed a marketing director drop a version of a catalog after gaining such insight and save thousands of dollars without any sacrifice in reaching his customers.
The complexity that frustrates you today might look like needless micromanagement after taking the opportunity to step away from your desk for a short while. With a fresh perspective on your methods and results, you might find you can change your system without harming its effectiveness. Take an actual or mental vacation, and you may find you’re more efficient and your marketing is more effective when you return.
Bill Singleton writes frequently on database management and direct mail topics. He’s a manager of analytics and consulting services at The Allant Group in Naperville, Ill. He can be reached at (630) 579-3448 or firstname.lastname@example.org.