Category Archives: Strategy

Finding Dots: Getting and Making Sense of Data

Strategy needs information. Unfortunately, much of that information – particularly in Marketing – comprises of hand-me-downs or culled from a wish list. And yet, we live in an age that is choking with information, data, figures and statistics.

Thus it seems incongruous that strategic plans are so ill-informed in such an information age. That’s why I’ve taken up learning how to scrape and transform on- and off-line data into some kind of insight…some kind of evidence that sets a direction.

The Result

It hasn’t helped me with strategy work yet. But it is wow… just wow. I’ve learnt a new programming language (R), brushed up on my statistics, and made maps.

Actually, a map of Instagram posts and likes on the Singapore General Election.
https://skybe077.cartodb.com/viz/f274b25e-5631-11e5-ac83-0e018d66dc29/embed_map

So exciting!

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What is a good strategy when researching a topic?

Research isn’t all that tough. But it is time consuming and the information deluge on the web doesn’t make it any easier.

I found this question on Quora: What is a good strategy when researching a topic? And thought it’s a nice segway into how to research.

What do you think?

Answer by Edwin Tam:

I find that there’s general and specific research.

In your case, you seem to be looking for specific information: e.g. did this invention exist? How do I know if my giga-watt-powered Oatmealy gadget can actually grind Oatmeal?

General Research

I usually do the following:

  1. Identify research dimensions: Environment, Competitors, Technology, Own
  2. Write a list of questions for each dimension
  3. Hit up the library/Google/Academic papers/forums to get answers quickly. This helps me winnow out unanswerable questions, specify questions, and develop other questions from the earlier list
  4. Repeat 3 until happy. But now, I look for stats, data, and if necessary, conduct some primary research (e.g. surveys etc).  I’d usually give myself 3 days to do the research. Otherwise, screensuck!
  5. Review info. Develop insights and answers to your (now modified) Questions List.

Quora Question: What is a good strategy when researching a topic?

Severe Optimism Kills

Not by paying the ultimate price (i.e. life) for marketing and business strategies. But by extending the project duration and raising the budget – simply by being optimistic about plans.

Yup.

Optimism sucks.

Haha.

Image from johnnyoptimism.blogspot.sg

Optimism causes us to do Bad Things Like

  1. We don’t look for base rates in similar situations
  2. We think our skills are up to the task
  3. We ignore luck, yet it is far more important than skill
  4. We neglect obstacles

all of that lead to a false sense of control.

It causes over-confidence in a flawed/incomplete plan. That we exaggerate our ability to deliver. That we give overly rosy presentations to prospects as we promise them the ends of the Earth and more.

We could tone down and admit that we don’t know. But in this need-answer-now/I-pay-you-for-answers day, it’s quite possible that admitting ignorance will equate to getting laughed out of the room.

Solution to Optimism: Pre-mortem Your Plan

It’s similar to the post-version. But in reverse:

Imagine the plan 1 year from now and failed miserably. What’s the history of its failure?

This helps to uncover obstacles, point out the elephant in the room, and minimise risk.

At least, as much as it humanly can.

Source: Engine of Capitalism, Chapter 24. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman Get it! It’s a great read!

Quickie Strategy: One (Strategic) Direction

Yep. Like the boy band.

But seriously, anything closely resembling a strategic plan needs direction – otherwise anything and any action will do. And when I say direction, it’s not “get more fucking people or Likes or whatever that’s the flavour of the moment.”

A direction is simply an answer to a problem. A clear, unambiguous and quite specific answer that states both the what and the how.

Compare these direction statements

“Never quit until you win” vs “We will win the hearts of our clients by being the fastest in turning around their requests”

No prizes for the direction that works for you.

Making it work

Your One Direction needs to have a what (will you do) and a how (will you do it) to answer the underlying problem within the current environment.

If not, find out what’s going on – and think harder on your direction.

Resources for the curious

  1. http://www.steverrobbins.com/articles/vision-strategy-tactics/
  2. http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/strategic-planning-kit-for-dummies-cheat-sheet.html
4 steps to finding out your target audience

Quickie Strategy: Who The F*** are your Target Audiences?

4 steps

Ask, Question, Find out, and Cut out

1: Ask your client

If they say “everyone”, give them a Brian o’Conan.

Otherwise, you have a list of people types to deal with…and that’s a good thing.

Source: World of Tanks

2: Question if this List is really your target audience?

With any luck, this list should at least segment “everyone” into discrete categories. E.g. Parents, Employees, Tradespeople, Media.

More likely not. So… that leaves you with the enviable task of creating categories that describe groups of people.

Why? Catering to more than 12 audience types will fry your brain like it’s on drugs. It’s just too much to handle!

Source: Elite Women

3: Find Out What the hell do these categories want?

Do the research – Google, ask people, use experiences etc. It might be difficult because it’s a pain in the ass to get info to describe these categories or it might just be that you’re not typing in the right keyword.

E.g. Category: tradespeople. Googled: “trades fair”, “What trades participants want”, “purpose of trade shows”, “trade show benefits” etc

Instead of hoping and praying to Page that there’s a webpage that describes tradespeople’s characteristics, I looked for things around it – what they did, the reasons why they go to tradeshows and why tradeshows exist.

From that little bit of research (2 to 3 hours?), tada… I now know what tradespeople want.

Source: Nerds of Colour (the connection with Step 3 — John Constantine’s been to Hell and back Open-mouthed smile)

4: Cut Out irrelevant wants

Now every category will probably have a list of wants as long as Cuthulu’s tentacles.

Pick the top 5 wants that your client can answer.

And now you know Who the F** are Your Target Audience

Source: Blastr