Manage Your Marketing: Efficiency Versus Lack of Heart

4568372067_cdab6de16b_mThese days, efficiency seems to be the name of the game. Or at least one of the names. With everyone trying to cram more and more productivity into less and less time, this is not surprising. Every week it seems like there is a new tool intended to optimize efficiency, whether it’s an email application, an iPhone app, or a quicker way to communicate with co-workers. Any way you look at it, tools for maximizing how much you can do are hot finds.

At its core, the concept of increasing your efficiency  is not a bad one, of course. We have talked here often about how much marketers are inundated with new platforms, new tools, new information, new markets, new market research, and more. Sifting through all of that information in addition to handling your every day chores can be downright overwhelming. However, one has to wonder if this new emphasis on efficiency is actually detracting from some of the engagement marketers have previously experienced in their work. One has to wonder if the new emphasis is actually, at times, a distraction from what the focus really should be.

Take, for example, the trendy emphasis on getting to “inbox zero.” This means that all of your emails have been sorted appropriately, trashed, or in some way moved out of your active inbox. This sounds like a great idea, and if you can actually attain “inbox zero” you will be able to give the impression that you are highly organized, proactive, and on top of everything. If you are not already at inbox zero, however, how much time are you willing to invest in getting there? How much time creating a more efficient work environment could actually be spent working on new business initiatives or giving that client presentation one last look-over?

Another example of efficiency tools creating a negative impact (in our opinion, anyway) are automated blog sharing platforms like Triberr and Buffer. The tools themselves are fabulous if you are using social media. With simple clicks of your mouse, you can schedule posts at regular intervals throughout the day (and night). Sharing content, both your own and that of others, has never been easier. Triberr also makes networking easier because you can invite all of your favorite bloggers into one group. What do we miss when we strive for more efficient content promotion, however? Consider that on Triberr, reading the post on the person’s blog is an option, not a necessity. In fact, you don’t really even need to read the post at all. You can simply click “approve” and everything else is taken care of for you. There’s no better demonstration of efficiency, but your heart has been taken out of the process when you simply click “approve” 100 times. You’re no longer reading posts. You’re no longer giving bloggers that much esteemed blog traffic. You’re not commenting. In fact, you might not even know what you’re actually sharing if you opt not to read the posts.

Is efficiency at this price really worth it?

Of course, not all efficiency maximizers require that kind of sacrifice. PR expert Shonali Burke recently listed 20 great tools that help her maximize her time. None of them really require a displacement of passion, unless you really enjoy handwriting your schedule a month at a time. However, it seems plausible that in our collective efforts to become super human, we are actually losing our human-ness. We’re taking our hearts out of the game.

What do you think?

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurajo/4568372067/ via Creative Commons


8 comments on “Manage Your Marketing: Efficiency Versus Lack of Heart

  1. Margie, first, thank you so much for the mention! Second, I completely agree – the minute I feel the tools are starting to make me more like them, I have to stop and re-evaluate my use. It’s one thing to have them help you maximize your time, but it’s completely another to let them take over your life. That’s why there are some tools that I just won’t use (like the auto-follow tools for Twitter, or the auto-DMs – ugh) – the last thing I need is for people to think I’ve become a robot!

    Also, I had to laugh at the “inbox zero” para. Thank you for saying that! I will never be at inbox zero if for no other reason that I use Gmail. But even so… if I ever did get there, I think I’d start looking around for something to do, or wonder why no one was emailing me…!

    • My email is a kind of organized chaos. I never delete anything because as soon as I do something comes up and I need *just* that tidbit of information. It happens without fail. I am actually convinced I’d be *less* efficient if I tried to get to inbox zero. Go fig 🙂

  2. Hmm. I may have to play devil’s advocate when it comes to creating a more efficient work environment. I think taking a time out to work on it can lead a person to better meet client needs and to pursue new opportunities. Then again, I hang out with the productivity crowd.

    The tools have to be used wisely. They can run your life if you let them. That was one reason I avoided Analytics. I’ve come to my senses, though. I’m in this game for keeps, and I need to know what works and what doesn’t. Does that make me less human? I don’t know.

    As for losing humanness, that’s always a danger. Humans tend to want the least path of resistance. I think that might be why “humanizing the brand” has become such a big thing. Business owners want a process. They forget that copying someone else’s process does not a success make. They have to choose the right tools that help them meet their customers’ needs, not their own.

    • I think there is a fine line between creating an organized work environment versus over-focusing on “hacking” tools. In the one case you are working to maximize how you work, and I’m of course all for that (fellow Virgo that I am). I feel like lately people are working to maximize efficiency not because it will help them be more effective but rather because it’s the “cool” thing to do, and that is what I find sort of off-putting, if that makes sense.

  3. Margie, spot on. To Erin’s comment, and your followup, I think the real issue is when our search for efficiency becomes such a focus that it distracts from the work being efficient is supposed to let us focus on.

    The same thing happens in marketing when the balance between planning and execution is off kilter. Yes, planning is good (and necessary) but it needs to be in balance with time spent on execution or you literally won’t get anything done.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Eric!

      Yeah, like so many things these days, I find myself wondering how much people really care about efficiency and tools versus how much they’re just riding the latest trend. If it’s the latter, I think it could really backfire for a lot of people.

  4. I can’t get to “inbox zero” with this crappy native Mail app on my Mac. I miss Outlook, but it doesn’t sync with iCloud. ARRGH!

    OK, enough venting. I agree…keep the heart and mind in the process and the sharing. Share less, but mean more with the sharing that you do.

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