I once heard a CEO tell his sales force, "In the Marines we had a saying - 'pack your shit in a small box'."
I think he was talking about getting past personal issues in order to serve the best interest of the team. Something like that. I'm not really sure. It doesn't matter - that guy was a jerk. He was unceremoniously ousted from the company less than a year later, allegedly for misusing company funds.
As underwhelming as that CEO was in character, he had a point. Pack your shit in a small box. It makes sense. We spend our time and energy on lots of different things, only some of those things serve our best interests.
When it comes to your business, packing your shit in a small box means finding the highest impact priorities, and spending your time only on those. Jim Collins had another way of saying it in Good to Great 'If you have more than 3 priorities you have none.'
This is what my team and I do for companies when I create marketing strategies. We make a comprehensive list of marketing efforts, then we edit, organize, and prioritize. We unpack the mental piles your company has been hoarding, spread them out on the front lawn, and get rid of what you don't need. We pack the 'keepers' into a small, actionable, box.
But how will packing your shit in a small box help you reach your goals? Having a small list of high priority items will focus your efforts on the things that matter. It's like panning for gold. You take a pile of dirt, put it through a sifter, and you end up with a smaller pile that you can take to the bank.
Here are some reasons it could be the best thing you ever do for your business.
A small box is:
There is a mental cleansing that happens when you list out everything you are doing, want to do, know you should be doing, etc. Here is how you and your team can do this:
This activity is a great way to stimulate discussion, build teams, and clean the gunk from the ole mental pipes. But the next steps will help you get even more from it.
Saying "hell yes!" to one thing means saying "no" to a million others. Which means you are going to have to pick priorities here. At the end of this exercise you want to end up with no more than three clear "hell yes!" priorities. So the next step:
I like to call this "identifying the low hanging fruit". Pick the priorities that are ripest based on the most easily attainable, highest impact tasks.
Sometimes you are going to have a hard time identifying just 3 "hell yes!" tasks. I like to rely on a fourth criteria in these cases. Order the tasks by their measure-ability. You can't optimize what you can't measure, so weed out the things that aren't reliably measured.
So you have your "hell yes!" marketing priorities. This is a good start. But there is a lot more to consider.
Your "hell yes!" priorities hold a lot of information about what is important to you. Consider extending them to other areas. For example: if one of your defined priorities is "Facebook promotions that get our customers to come to the store" consider extending that effort. Can parallel efforts be run in Twitter? Can you study the people on Facebook who are responding to your promotion in order to maximize on the traits that cause them to respond favorably to your request? Take a deep dive into these priorities and maximize the impact of your work on these.
Taking a deep dive will have a few benefits. First, you will learn more about your audience. And second, you will learn more about your message. Your deep dive will help you understand your message and priorities thoroughly. Albert Einstein said "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Your deep dive will help you understand your product, your message, and the finer discussion points, in a way you couldn't have imagined possible without it.
This is the piece that is going to propel you forward. State some goals that could be served by the small box priorities. Get hyper-focused on those goals. And see if you don't exceed them.
So I want to issue a challenge. It will be simple and beneficial. Let's call it the 5 day "Pack your s#!t in a small box" challenge. Schedule a nice 1- 2 hour slot with your team. Take some time to mentally unpack everything onto the front lawn, sort through it for the most important stuff, and pack that stuff into your small box.
Post your results here, or tweet me at @kellyLCoulter. I can't wait to hear how this goes for you! I'm sure you're going to learn a lot, and exceed some goals along the way.
Kelly Coulter is a marketing consultant and coach with almost 20 years experience helping businesses win customers online.