Attributes of an effective marketing leader, part 2: focus

Attribute number one was vision, the ability to use discernment and foresight to develop a strategic direction that an organization wants to follow. Attribute number two relates to realizing that vision: focus.

Too often visionary leaders are so broad with their vision statements that teams are not sure what they need to do. Great marketing leaders bring a broad vision into focus. They help simplify complexity. They clarify vagueness. They distill options into a clear and aligning forward course.

A technique that I’ve found useful in clarifying a strategy — bringing it into focus — is the two-column contrast list. It can take several forms, but here are a few of my favorites:

  1. From/To: List the current and future state implications (e.g., from product focused to solution focused)
  2. In/Out: List what you include and exclude in your strategy (e.g., focus on the young adult market, do not focus on boomers)
  3. More/Less: List the activities that you plan to do more of by doing less of something else (e.g., more search marketing, less broadcast advertising)
  4. Now/Later: List the activities that need everyone’s urgent attention and those valid ideas that will have to wait (e.g., revamp our website now, upgrade our CRM system later)
  5. Stop/Start: List the things you will stop doing so that you can start doing new things (e.g., stop selling desktop PCs, start selling netbooks)

As I was writing this I read a Harvard Business Publishing post, To Change Effectively, Change Just One Thing, written by Peter Bregman. It is a short and illustrative story on the power of simplifying and focusing. And worth a read.

Please send me your story on how you have accomplished a goal by being focused. It’s not as easy as it sounds, is it?