Pulling The Lever: Marketing Wins and Where They Come From

Ian Lurie

Marketing is exhausting. I’ve had my share of days when I’ve said: “Why the hell am I still doing this?”

Getting one person after another from why to why not requires energy and patience. I run out of the latter more often than the former. Regardless: Exhausting.

But now and then my team and I find that one lever—that one thing—that turns a client’s marketing campaign completely around:

  • The time organic traffic jumped after you fixed duplicate content
  • The change to the “buy now” button that increased conversions 15%
  • An architectural tweak that shot a client to the top of the rankings
  • Revamped campaign structure that reduced PPC costs 30%
  • Modified social targeting that boosted engagement

I love when that happens. I can point to the moment we changed something and foomp, a client’s business has a marketingasm. Marketers don’t often get to do that. It’s energizing. For me, it’s like pushing a reboot button and after getting a memory upgrade. I run out of the room thinking AW HELL YEAH BRING ON THE NEXT PROBLEM WE’RE GOING TO SHOVE IT IN OUR MARKETING SUPERPOWER WOODCHIPPER.

It’s an illusion. Those lever-pulling moments of brilliance come after a lot of other work. Once every few years a client hires us and we show our superpowers the next day. But 99% of big lever-pulling wins happen because we did our homework. We looked at the marketing stack. The team worked their asses off on all the unsexy stuff like spreadsheets and crawl reports. They dredged up data and case studies proving that, yes, that change will help sell more stuff.

They also spent months and years learning marketing.

Those efforts set us up for those lever-pulling wins.

By the way: That’s why I find sites spewing SEO “tricks” and other BS “techniques” so infuriating. It’s also why hourly billing is ridiculous. It’s not about the One Big Thing That Did The Trick. It’s about the months and years of hard labor that made it possible.

So, when the magic happens, respect the work that made it so.

Still, I love pulling that lever.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (that's more than 25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team, training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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