Push vs Pull Work

I wrote about the "Push vs Pull" concept last week while answering a reader question for "Ask Logan Lenz." 

I thought it would be helpful to others dealing with time management on a day to day basis. 

Reader question: 

It's impossible for me to stay on task at my job. As a manager, my team comes into my office constantly to ask me about their situations. How can I better manage daily distractions at the office?

My Response: 

While it's true that you will never be able to completely resist against the real-time need for others that require your higher level of expertise, there are a few best practices that help to minimize the way these occurrences take place. The trick is to build the right protocols that leave your team with options to seek your attention ON YOUR TERMS.

Here's what I mean:

  • Define the difference between "push vs pull" in the work you do. Push should be defined as tasks you aspire to do on your own time. Pull is when others come to you, without warning, and require your assistance.
  • Because pull work is unplanned, the trick is to provide your team with the best method of communication to you, based on a sliding scale. If you don't determine, what's important to have you involved, this constant pull work can hijack your day.
  • Build processes and reference guides that build more autonomy over time. Are you REALLY needed by the team? In most cases, you'll come to learn that your team is simply afraid they'll do the wrong thing. In others, they're coming to you so you'll see they are smart or proactive. Empower them with your knowledge so that you can free up more time for your more important push work.
  • Define times of the day (or days of the week if you have more time to make decisions) that welcome pulls. Yes, you may end up getting flooded with requests during this time, but that's when you'll want to schedule meetings with your team so that you can solve all of their problems in one fell swoop.
  • Always be available, but never be available. Keep your door open, but ask an approaching team member how urgent something is. Using your aforementioned sliding scale, you can either postpone the conversation or quickly nudge them toward where they can find the best solution.

Regardless of all of these tricks, I've found that this is mostly a losing battle. But at the very least, you can establish the proper rules and processes that will afford you more time to do the work that you want and need to do (push).

Good luck!

The Dog That Chases the Car

The dog will start to wag its tail as the car approaches. The anticipation is elevating.

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As the car get closer, the dog starts to see exactly what it is. But at the same time, it doesn't quite understand what it means.

When the car gets close enough to see, the dog takes immediate action. 

As the car turns the corner, the dog takes off to chase after it. 

This is a common process. It's an exciting unknown that we're too interested in to not follow. 

But if we stop to really think about it, we'd need to answer the following question....

What would happen if the dog caught the car? 

Nothing.

But the dog may never realize that it will perpetually prefer to never catch up to the car. 

 

Priming the Mind

With so much negativity around us, all of the optimists in the world are serving as contrarions these days. 

I realized I needed to change how my surroundings impact me and my attitude. After all, you are a byproduct of your surroundings, aren't you? 

Recently, I started doing priming meditative exercises every morning when I wake up. This priming is all about expressing gratitude by recalling three moments you are grateful for. 

For me, I think about my wife, my kids, and my career. They are 3 things that I am not only grateful for today, but that I continue to be excited about for the future. 

I follow these priming exercise with a few stretches and then get right into my morning workout. 

At the end of my routine, I feel rejuvenated and ready to attack the day. 

Move Diagonally

It feels great to finish one thing and move on to the next. It's the most natural of progressive movements.

Similarly, it's comfortable working within easy and hard projects simultaneously. 

Both of these types of advancements are measured vertically or horizontally. As you work through a list, for example, you are accomplishing multiple tasks. Over time, you are moving throughout a horizontal timeline to do so.

The trick is to move the timeline vertically.

By accomplishing more items spanning a wider breadth, you are ensuring growth - and you can confirm it visually.

It's how the hockey stick pattern came to be. Diagonal growth is the healthiest of all. Move diagonally and you'll find yourself looking down when you "remember that time when...." 

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10 Best Stocks in the Last 10 Years

If you were to randomly invest in any of the following stocks over the past 10 years, you would have yielded the best returns in the market. 

Perhaps you'll find this list to be a little unexpected, although some of the usual suspects are leading the way. 

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These types of growth reports are always interesting to look at, but not very helpful. I still do not believe investing in single equities is a worthwhile and sustainable way to manage your own money. It's binary, unpredictable, and based solely on chance. 

It's the more advanced multi-leg trading strategies that make investing more exciting and lucrative - and far less risky. 

Congratulations to anyone who rode these waves over the past decade. Hopefully you weren't on the opposite side of the list you aren't being shown - "The 10 Worst Stocks in the Last 10 Years." 

Jobportunity

Do you think of your profession as more of a chore or a pathway to your future? 

It's easy to overlook the opportunity you have in front of you by taking for granted the fact that someone somewhere has faith in you to perform and do a good job in your designated position. 

But try your best to not take that for granted. You owe it to yourself to seize the opportunity you are given to catapult you into a more promising and autonomous future. 

Don't get caught in the trap. Those that succumb to the fact that they have a "job" will find themselves stuck working just that.... a job. It's those that see past that word, realize the potential, and hustle their way into much more that go on to do the most impressive things with their work. 

Are you seizing your Jobportunity? 

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Losing Balance

When you run without a final destination, it's natural for you to stumble. Stumbling is a function of emphasizing the importance of speed rather than precision. 

Walking slowly will undoubtedly allow you to keep your balance, but at what cost? 

The most important metric is to figure out how fast you can run without ever losing your balance. As long as you stay focused and do it with reasonable speed, you'll inevitably find your destination in due time. 

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5 Lessons Learned About Translating Social Media Posts

As brands globalize online and begin penetrating new customers abroad, they are faced with the immediate struggles of scaling a local market team. While doing so can be difficult in general, personalizing the brand while keeping the company culture can be extremely difficult. 

Here are some reasons why you can't take such a large initiative too lightly.

LESSON 1: YOU CAN'T JUST MACHINE TRANSLATE YOUR ENGLISH POSTS

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Philip Neville automatically translates his tweets from English to Spanish. The unacceptable and embarrassing result can be found in the comment above. 

LESSON 2: GO WHERE THE MARKET IS

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Additional in-market effort is unavoidable when you consider the many different social networks that are specific to any given market. Take China for example (data shown above). Your current social media team may not be able to navigate these sites - and they are what is essential for success in the market. 

LESSON 3: PLAN GLOBAL CONTENT AHEAD OF TIME

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When decision makers at a global company only can understand marketing content in one single language, it becomes imperative for them to know what is happening ahead of time. Us social media marketers are usually trained to work in the opposite way; quickly. For global content outside of a main region, it's best to tiptoe into it and plan out the strategy well in advance to ensure all stakeholders agree with the content and the culture being built in the new markets. 

LESSON 4: DON'T JUST CHOOSE ANY NATIVE SPEAKER

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Just like how you did your due diligence to hire marketers in your primary market, the same type of process should be adapted to fill the chairs in secondary target markets. All too often, companies rely on solely a referral from someone on the team that knows a native speaker. Proceed with caution in these cases. Just because someone knows a language, does not mean they understand customer engagement and content marketing as a whole.

LESSON 5: DON'T MIX REGIONAL MARKETING MESSAGES

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Delta felt this firsthand. As an airline that operates globally, they should accommodate all customers in all languages at all times. In the controversial tweet above, the company tweeted a World Cup reference to Ghana without doing the necessary research needed to know that there are no giraffes in the country of Ghana. Not only does a snafu such as this turn off the entire country of Ghana, but even their English-speaking followers around the world will doubt their knowledge of the markets to which they fly. 

What's in Store in March?

I don't expect this to be an exhaustive list, but here are some upcoming events I am looking forward to:

  • March 1st: Joinbenny.com opens in private beta.
  • March 6th: A birthday celebration.
  • March 12th: My baseball league's season begins.
  • March 18th: City & Colour in Fort Lauderdale.
  • March 29th: Something Rotten in town.
  • March 30th: Radiohead in Miami.

Throw in some MLB spring training, a business trip or two, prepping for the Launch Festival, and learning everything I can surrounding what I am working on, and we are left with what is sure to be a fantastic end of the first quarter of the year.

What do you have going on in March? 

Accidents Happen

I couldn't believe what I was witnessing last night. It was the making of entertainment's greatest gaffe in history. 

It felt too ironic to be a mistake. The "darling" favorite film mistakenly wins best picture only to bow down to the indie favorite underdog. 

I'm fine with the results, but I'm not alright with the excuses I've heard. The process apparently has them print out two sets of winner envelopes. They do this to ensure they cover both sides of the entrances to the stage. It's dumbfounding that this could happen. Someone failed massively.

Despite the magnitude of this mistake, accidents do happen. There are many moving parts during this process. It's a perfect opportunity to investigate every component to determine the root cause.

Did the presenter grab the wrong envelope? This can only be avoided by only providing access to the right asset. 

Every single step in a process can be managed to avoid disasters like this one. You better believe that failure like this will lead to a change in the process. That's why we'll never see this happen again. 

Uber, Culture, and Human Resources

No one wants to hear about misconduct at work, especially personal mistreatment through any form of prejudice. 

What's currently happening at Uber is scary, but it also allows us to peek further into office dynamics that we don't talk publicly about enough. 

My foray into the HR industry has me pointing my magnifying glass at issues like this to hone in on the root of the problem. It goes without saying that a startup like Uber is going to hit speed bumps. It's inevitable when you hire dozens of new workers every week. 

But without the right infrastructure, the right training, and the right processes, you'll find almost every company bursting at the seams - whether the issues become public or not. 

So what have I seen work and what do I recommend for this in general? 

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Here are some things you can do to increase the chances that your operation and the way you treat your people will be a force for good, instead of a risk for bad, for your organization:

  1. Hire a leader of people as soon as possible. This doesn’t mean just hire an HR Manager. It means hire someone that can truly manage people from the C-level. This holds someone accountable for enacting policies, building the culture, and interacting with the frontlines — all while being able to liaison with the leaders of the company in real-time.
  2. Any HR Managers underneath the C-Level “People Officer” should report to the Officer AT LEAST once a week. It will always be important to talk about new hires, problem areas, refine policies, complete internal documents, and simply get ahead of the many points of concern that will pop up within a fast-growth company.
  3. Similarly, the CEO should hold a “Culture” meeting no less than monthly, whether it be with the Officer or the HR lead. The CEO should always be in the know, and should always be buying into the concept behind putting their “people first” as the company grows.
  4. Open up a method of communication that allows for both sides of the coin. Employees can speak to their Managers directly in-person OR issue a concern anonymously. This type of structure is rarely abused and establishes an open line of communication without risk. This can and should be facilitated with HR tools that are already available on the market.
  5. Do make your HR organization about culture and leadership first and foremost. I have heard many HR leaders called “Culture Controllers.” That’s a good way to empower them to worry about morale and aligning everybody with the company’s core values and path to success.
  6. Always have a company handbook that lays out the rules of behavior in the workforce. You can never do this too early. You set the tone early and it propagates. It is great if you can start with your values, clearly laid out for everyone, and then lay out the rules and what happens if they are not followed.
  7. Build a robust and thorough employee onboarding process. Each new hire should almost feel overwhelmed (in a good way) by the amount of learning they’d have to do initially. At the same time, however, they should be paced accordingly and not expected to dive in any earlier than after a few weeks of shadowing and meeting everybody they will be interacting with. Onboarding is far more than “here’s your laptop, here’s your desk, here’s your boss.” It needs to be a few weeks of getting ingrained in the values, culture, systems, processes, and rules. It should be learning about every part of the organization, the current operating plan, strategic priorities, management team, and more.

There are far more “rules” to live by, but I’ll digress to the aforementioned few (for now). We haven’t even begun to scratch the service on offering the right employee benefits to heighten morale and culture.

It’s critical that you talk about all of this stuff in your all hands meetings regularly and often. Use the current Uber controversy to spearhead an internal initiative to enact some of these best practices and empower leaders in your organization to take ownership of your culture.

If you don’t prioritize this stuff, you’ll never find the time to do it correctly. Proceed with care. Your employees are watching you.

Sacrifice

I deal with risk every day. 

  • In my option trading, I move my strike price spreads farther out to elevate my probability of profit. 
  • In my work, I put forth a long day of focused effort without seeing my family all day. 
  • In health, I give up sleep in order to get a morning workout in.

The list goes on and on. 

There can be no balance without sacrifice. 

There can be no agreement without compromise. 

"I'll Stick with What Works"

Your light bulbs might work, but it doesn't mean you can't save money on your power bill. 

Your omelettes might task just fine, but they would be much more delicious if you used organic eggs. 

Your car runs fine, but you don't realize the ride is destroying your tires over time. 

It's easy to get comfortable with our processes. A lot of us feel it's "good enough."

Nothing can be improved if you don't take the time to notice your options. What you might think "works" for you today, may not be working at all. That's the ease of complacency your feeling instead. 

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The 5 Factors of International PPC Campaigns

Pay Per Click, or PPC, is an online advertising term referring to the act of bidding on traffic (via a click on the ad). The bidding system itself consists of a myriad of factors and nuances, which makes it rather complicated to configure optimally.

This high level overview aims to assist in the overall understanding of the strategy's architecture and the 5 main factors to consider when running PPC campaigns. 

The framework laid out below consists of five main ingredients: budget, targeting, keywords, positioning and quality score.

1. Budget

Because you are paying every time a user clicks on your advertisement, you must set a budget that amounts to your bid price multiplied by the number of visits you'll receive (via clicks).

Most of my clients will lay out their PPC budget for a certain period of time after their site launches. The most common time frames I'll see are 3, 6, or 12 months in advance. The budget can be further broken down month by month.

While a total budget gets identified, I typically begin helping them structure their campaigns per my recommendations. This is when we use our own benchmark data and market research to apply the necessary filters and variations on top of the campaigns themselves. One of those budget-related variables is how much to spend when, which is when we pinpoint specific days of the week and even times of day to place bids. 

Since I am so heavily vested into the success of my clients' site launches, I ensure daily management of the budget. I do this by logging into the advertising platforms being used every day to confirm that my bid price is optimal and that my daily spend is averaging out to meet the monthly budget. 

Managing the daily spend might seem simple in theory, but both web traffic and bid prices fluctuate on a daily basis - so it becomes increasingly important for us to stay on top of what's happening as often as possible. 

Another example that highlights the need for daily ad management is the ebbs and flows of keyword quality. Some words might perform much better than others. However, the higher performing keywords might be the most expensive. If I declare those to be worthwhile, I can (and should) increase the bid for those keywords. Keep in mind, though, that by doing that, I also may need to lower my bids for other less valuable keywords. 

A best practice for my clients is to house a separate PPC budget by country. That way, your budget aligns directly with the performance of a website you are marketing. As your brand targets more and more markets, you can continue to test the effectiveness of PPC by market and alter the budgets to maximize profit as needed. 

2. Targeting

When you're promoting a single language and market website, you have the luxury of setting up your ad campaigns with obvious segments in tact. For example, there is no reason to target any users outside of Russia when you are setting up a strategy targeting Russian speakers in Russia. 

After several rounds of similar filtering, you result in a very specific target demographic. The more narrow your targeting, the more effective (and profitable) your ads will be. Segmenting targets correctly also allows for greater agility since it will be easier to identify pain points when your performance gets low or your spend becomes too high. 

Pursuing a target also intensifies the importance of laying out an objective. What action would you like this target demographic to take? What will you measure to monitor business performance? 

Measuring the effectiveness of each campaign becomes increasingly different as your performance variables diversify. In the table below, you'll see that 3 keywords are all performing in very different ways. 

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Keyword A has an outstanding Click-Through-Rate and Conversion Rate, but is not driving very much traffic. Keyword C, on the other hand, is driving a ton of traffic, but an educated advertiser would consider the quality of the ad and the traffic to be poor. 

This exaggerated example reveals once again the emphasis I place on ongoing campaign maintenance. Not only do you have to worry about these metrics as a whole, but things become more intense when you dig deeper into the demographic segments (or user targets) that were configured. 

All in all, I'm sort of using "target" in two ways. One is the demographic you choose to advertise to, and the other is the overall objective of your campaigns. 

3. Keywords

If PPC campaigns were the human body, keywords would make up its heart. They are the driving force pumping the blood to all of the levers that move throughout the process. It's the keywords that hold the value for both advertisers and searchers. They reveal the purchase intent of searchers while being the main controller of overall bid prices. 

With keywords at the center of it all, a PPC campaign is structured with ad copy, landing pages, and targeting around it. That said, it's difficult to invent these other items without a clear understanding of the keywords you will be targeting. 

As mentioned earlier, keywords can fall into classifications based on quality. I'll get into quality score later on since it's one of the 5 factors, but at the surface, it's extremely important to monitor whether a keyword is low, medium, or high performing at all times. Knowing this allows you to quickly pivot into finding what works best and which keywords are disposable. 

If you set up campaigns that target more than one region, you'll have to keep in mind that strategies and quality scores will vary by market/target. In other words, you won't see the same correlations in metrics throughout all of your campaigns. I know this based on the many different user behaviors by market.  

4. Positioning

To put it simply, Pay-Per-Click advertising exists in order to allow for webmasters to display their sites at top positions in search engines. This, of course, gives the website more exposure in the short-term. This strategy usually accompanies a longer term way to get to the same goal, which is where search engine optimization comes into play (SEO). 

This obviously makes ad positioning a pivotal part of the PPC process. You probably noticed that there can be several ads displayed at the same time on a single search engine results page (SERP). Haven't you ever wondered how that worked? 

It should come as no surprise that the more competitive a keyword is, the more ads will display. This is based around common supply and demand principles since total search volume of that keyword is driving up the price of ALL available positions on the SERP. If there are more bidders, the search engine can sell the top spots at a premium and discount those that reside underneath. 

So how do we, as advertisers, make sure we're positioned optimally for the keywords we've chosen to pursue? 

Put simply, you must bid higher. And continue to do so. Competitors may do the same, so it often becomes a bidding war pretty quickly.  

Monitoring your positioning means you must constantly assess your keywords to determine how they're performing in which position. You won't want to increase your bid on a keyword that you continue to rank first for, but you also may want to stop bidding on the ones that are sending you traffic that isn't converting. 

Positions overlap most with bid price and quality score. The higher the quality score, the less you might have to spend since search engines prefer to serve more relevant ads over making a few extra pennies. 

5. Quality Score

All search engines treat quality score a bit differently. Google, for example, calls ad positioning "Ad Rank." You can calculate Ad Rank by multiplying a bid price with a quality score. 

Allow me to explain further. 

In a nutshell, a quality score is the grade a search engine gives your ad based on some of the factors aforementioned in this post. Some others are the Click-Through-Rate, the relevance of the landing page to the chosen keyword, your brand's performance history, and more. 

Other search engines around the world use other terms for quality score. Baidu identifies it as "Quality Degree" while "Quality Index" is Naver's preferred terminology. However, what doesn't change much is the way these search engines calculate the quality of an ad. 

Let’s look at another table (shown below) to illustrate how quality score can impact bidding. Assume that keyword Keyword D has a quality score of 5. You place a bid of $10.00 for it and with a quality score of 20, the ad is placed in position 1. Now, let's imagine that your quality score is 10 for Keyword E. You still want your ad to remain position 1 for this keyword, so how much are you going to bid? You know that having a quality score of 20 can place the ad in position 1, so now you just need to place a $5.00 bid, or half your previous bid. 

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The same effect is shown for Keyword F, except in reverse. The quality score went down to 2.5 so you were forced to bid double that of Keyword D in order to fill the coveted top spot in the SERP. 

It is important to note that not only does quality score influence position, but position also influences quality score. This occurs simply because a higher position usually leads to a stronger Click-Through-Rate, which a key factor in determining an ad’s quality score over time.

Conclusion

This high level overview on International PPC Campaigns clearly tells us how important having a dedicated resource is when pursuing such a detailed and nuanced strategy. Always be sure to keep these 5 factors in mind when setting up your PPC campaigns, and try your best to maintain the best balance between each of them. 

I have assisted dozens of clients with PPC campaigns that extend throughout hundreds of target markets. Whether you're looking for some guidance on best practices or a full-time resource, I would love to help position your brand optimally across the web. 

The Effects of Removing a Best Practice from a Website

It's not uncommon for a digital agency to host a portfolio filled with attractive designs and impressive metrics that shout to the world "this is why we're good at what we do." In fact, that sort of flaunting is expected these days. 

You can look through this website to find many examples of us doing the same. And why wouldn't we? We have some outstanding success stories from working with some of the biggest brands in the world. 

But what if we looked performance from another angle? Instead of showing what happened because we DID something for a client, let's display an example that highlights the negative impact NOT DOING SOMETHING has on their website. 

Without further adieu, I introduce to you a table revealing the impact that removing a simple technology has on website performance.

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This table overviews impressions, engagement, and conversion goals in one fell swoop. 

Normally, I wouldn't throw so much data into one table, but this finding was just too good not to hammer home. 

Of all nine line items, every single one fell from 2014 to 2015. This was baffling to me considering that nothing changed on the sites being analyzed - except for the single removal of one single, yet powerful piece of technology. 

So why would I choose to highlight this analysis so aggressively? The answer is quite simple. Not only does adding my optimization best practices and technologies on top of your website experiences lead to increases in the above metrics, but removal of them can lead to a dramatic decrease in KPIs. 

Conclusion

This is another testament to the fact that you should not be relying on website visitors to navigate themselves to worthwhile engagement and conversion metrics. Instead, help guide them to their destination by leveraging best in breed technologies that can improve their overall on-site experience.  

Coming Back

It's one of the most respectable feats to accomplish - to get up from being pushed down and to still have the energy to press forward. 

What's most impressive is the ability to shut off what had just happened. Losing momentum can be a devastating part of a process. It's gaining it back quickly that's so extremely difficult.

It takes a certain type of person, group, team, or business to prevail when all odds are against them. It's not only fascinating to watch, but it's what turns great people into legends. 

The Ongoing Challenge

Put simply, it's to stay focused. If I truly roll up my sleeves and get into the weeds in February, I will be able to be more efficient and even hit my normal monthly goals, despite the month being 2 or 3 days shorter. 

There's so much going on right now, but it's helpful to have external distractions be minimized. February is a quiet month on the personal side of things, which will give me the ability to focus harder and relax more. 

So, as I've said in the past, there aren't any 30 day challenges this year. It's all about continuing to challenge myself daily so that I can accomplish what I am planning throughout this year. 

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