“No amount of cool software will replace good sound fundamentals when it comes to creating repeatable processes that can be taken to the masses in an organization and help take it to the next level.”

I completely agree with Brad Egeland in his blog post titled, “Process Trumps Technology“. It’s actually something I’ve personally been dealing with for a while now… staying focused on the end goal and building bomb proof processes. It’s so easy to get swallowed up in the thoughts that in order to do a project better that one must use an awesome software tool. Honestly that’s just not the case. Excel and Word, coupled with a decent file management system… ie… creating folders and grouping project together… is really all you need.

Project Management is not really about word and excel though. It’s more about just creating repeatable processes that can be applied to multiple projects… As the author stated… putting the same face on every project so that the whole organization can work cohesively in solving the problem.

It is my opinion that others who read Brad Egeland’s may find a different meaning and focus to his words. Take what you can when you can… apply it to what you know and then research what you don’t know or understand… eventually you will find the answer you were looking for.

Rant Over- AffiliateGeek Out!

So I just finished creating a competitive analysis of 9 sites that offer website traffic. This was the first paper I’ve written since graduating college in 2004. I had forgotten how much work needs to go into such an important project.

Like most projects, I dove in head first. I did a keyword search on the type of traffic/media buys that were of interest. My list grew to 33 companies. I collected data from each site: Alexa Ranking, Type of traffic offered, Other Services offered, etc. Since 33 companies at almost $80 a pop is a little much, I decided to narrow the search even further. I decided to segment the companies into the *types of traffic that they offered. I was looking for a specific type of traffic and was able to narrow my search to 9 companies. Again, I dove in head first. I created my list of prospects and started the 1st process: “Tracking”.

If you are going to test ANYTHING online or even offline for that matter then “tracking” is absolutely essential. I mean, think about it… you have to “track” the campaigns. You have to “track” the results. You have to “track” the correspondences. Tracking is a BIG deal!

So, let’s expand upon this topic. If your doing a competitive analysis, what needs to be tracked? Well, I can tell you from my experience that you better keep close tabs on the traffic you purchase on the internet. My experience was incredibly confusing.

For Example, and this is for real, I identified a company that offered exactly what I was looking for. They looked totally legitimate. I read through their terms and conditions and everthing appeared fine. Thinkin the company was kosher, I made my purchase. Once I made my purchase I was taken to a confirmation page that told me that I needed to email a company with a completely different domain name the url that I wanted to promote. Guess what… the company name that I purchased from was not even listed on the receipt!

If I hadn’t been smart about purchasing traffic and documenting or tracking my actions then I may have never received my traffic. I mean, think about it… what if I had spent several hundred dollars with this company. Do you think that just because a company has customer support that their really going to help you “find” your order? No! Probably not, especially if the company goes through added steps to make the purchase path incredibly confusing. There is a good possibility that I would have NEVER received my visitors if I had not been tracking and documenting my purchase step by step.

So, that was kindof long winded. I’m sure you get the point. If you’re going to perform a competitive analysis on anything that requires a purchase then you need to document every step. Here’s how I did it:

1. Set up a special Google Mail Account. Gmail.
2. Created Labels in Google Account that corresponded with name of each company that I planned to purchase traffic from.
3. Set up an ad tracking account. (I used Adminder.com for this particular experiment. They offer a 14 day trial with no credit card request. It’s simple but does the trick.)
4. Set up an ad tracking code that helps you identify the company that you purchased traffic from
i.e. I created an ad code called xyz b/c I purchased from xyc company. This helped me identify my purchase b/c the term xyc was in the url which was listed on my receipt
5. If you set up a username and password then place that info with your ad tracking information. For me, this was added to the description alread in my ad tracking tool. I documented the sign up link, user name and password.
6. Take a screen shot of your confirmation page. Save it in a folder that corresponds to that particular company.
7. Immediately check your email for a receipt of purchase.
8. If recieipt of purchase is in your email then quickly label it using the labels you set up in Gmail.
9. Ask questions. Send customer support tickets. You can do this right of the bat. If the company does not answer your customer support tickets then do NOT do business with that company.
10. Hold the company accountable. Make sure you have every piece of information/correspondence available documented. I cannot stress this enough. If the company does not give you the information that you requested then go to IMReport.com or any other review site and write about your experience.

Hope this helps you better organize your media buys. I’m sure this post will get cleaned up in the future, so feel free to ask questions. We’re in this together!

Rant Over- AffiliateGeek Out!

Project Management 101

May 17, 2009

I was recently tasked with a project to create a case study evaluating consumer purchasing behavior for a website. I started the project with a good idea of how the project should run but with no actual outline. Big Mistake! First, I created a list of customers who had purchased our product via our merchant account between certain dates. I got half way through calling my list and realized that I was leaving out a ton of customers because we also offer the payment option called paypal. Also mid way through the list I realized that I should have created a list of questions that could tell me what I needed to know about the customer. Such as how did you hear about us? What were you promoting? Were you using a tracking tool? What results did you get? Would you buy the product again? So, now those questions answered for some of our customers but not all of our customers, which gives me slightly unbiased or inconclusive results as the measurement was not the same.

Lesson #1. Outline project. Create a goal. Determine the required actions. Determine why you are creating the project.

Lesson #2 Create a script. Who am I going to call? What am I going to say

Lesson #3. Set deadlines. Mini deadlines and Major deadlines. I didn’t set a timeline for when the project would be finished. Would I call 10 customers? Would I call 20 customers? should I call 250 customers? when is enough, enough? Lesson learned. Give yourself a deadline.

Lesson #4: When collecting data, decide how to organize the data in advance. Too much data can be a distraction.

Lesson #5: Make sure you have a copy of the original data incase it is needed for that or other studies.

Lesson #6: ctrl S, ctrl S, ctrl S… need I say more?

It’s interesting to me that a Google search of the terms “project management outline template” returned top results which dated all the way back to 2003. If I were a marketing strategist for a Project Management software tool, I would certainly create some kind of article or document that could be used as an SEO tool within the search engines. Just seems like a no brainer. People need project management templates, outlines, and guidance.  Here’s an outline I just started to use for my marketing, sales, advertising and social media projects.

Project Management Outline Template

  • Define Project
  • Build Prospect List
  • Create Value Proposition
  • Define Communication Strategy
  • Discovery Call- Set Appointment
  • Conclusions/Recommendations/Sales

Seems simple, right? If you have a better project management sample or outline then please send it my way. I am always interested in managing projects more efficiently.