Ian Lurie // Apr 8 2008
Successful internet marketing brings together a lot of disciplines. Unfortunately, that often results in project chaos: Unhappy teams, communication failures, etc.. Read on and I’ll give you a few methods for putting things back on track.
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
The developer says they can’t go any further without the designer’s input.
The designer just can’t seem to call the developer.
The project manager cries a lot and can’t get anyone on the phone.
And you’re pretty sure the content team is down at the bar.
Your internet marketing project – the web site, PPC campaign, e-mail, landing pages, all of it – is at a dead stop. You’re 6 months overdue and your boss is ready to kill you. Or, if you’re the boss, you’re ready to kill yourself.
Many internet marketing projects never even launch.
I’ve personally experienced every one of these except the last. There’s still time on that one, though, as my company is being audited this week. I’m accepting donations of antacid.
If you’re in charge, it’s extremely frustrating when a project starts to sputter. You just can’t figure out why the team is being so difficult. Can’t they just get the damned work done?!
No, they can’t. You have to get things back on track.
I have three methods I use, depending on the circumstances:
Use this method if you’re 100% sure that everyone has what they need and they’re just pouting, and that you’re close to having a heart attack out of sheer frustration.
Call the entire team into your office. Start nice and calm. As the team starts down the road of the same finger-pointing that got you in trouble in the first place, yell. Throw something (soft).
OK, you don’t actually have to yell. But make it very, very clear that this isn’t going to work any more, and that you’re going to hold everyone responsible for getting this project done. You, after all, sign the checks (or at least do the reviews).
Then give them $100. Send them to a nearby restaurant and tell them not to come back until they’ve mapped out their next steps.
I don’t like this technique: I don’t like drama. But if I’m stuck, this is my last resort.
If folks don’t respond to this, you’re going to have to make some changes.
Use this method if the project’s been stalled in a committee for the last 1+ months. I don’t literally mean a ‘committee’ – any group of people who can’t decide between green, blue-green and green-blue fits the profile.
Set up a meeting with the committee. Before the meeting, meditate, do Yoga, drink a beer or do whatever else is necessary to turn yourself into a font of tranquility.
In the meeting, report to the committee that:
Then give them some options for clearing the current logjam.
Do not make ultimatums! At least one person on the committee will translate ‘otherwise I’ll have to…’ to mean ‘screw you’. It’s not worth it.
Use this method when you know darn well you have a great team.
Sit the entire team down. Make sure they understand that you are On Their Side. You know they can get this project done. Explain you’re sorry if you seem impatient. You’re passionate about this.
Tell them that if you seem angry or frustrated, it’s just that you want to see the cool stuff they’re going to do. And the client or boss is calling you every 10 minutes.
Point out where you think things have gone awry.
Ask them what their solutions would be. Work with them, closely, while they figure it out.
This is my favorite method, because 99% of the time it’s true, applicable and authentic.
One thing you never do to kick a project back into gear is lie. Use these methods when they truly apply.
I’ve learned these methods from painful, long experience (11+ years) running internet marketing projects. I’ve tested methods that don’t work (I’ve totally screwed up) many, many times.
…That in none of these examples do you take over or Ride In To Save The Day.
Somehow, you have to get your team to do the work. If you do it, you’re not doing the work you already have on your desk, and you’re not going to do the job as well as your team could. They’re the specialists.
Ian Lurie is founder and CEO of Portent Inc., an internet marketing agency that has provided internet marketing, including PPC, SEO, social and analytics services, since 1995. Read More