• Matthew Lerner

Debunking "Effort vs. Impact" Prioritisation

Do you prioritise marketing work based on effort vs. impact?

I don’t anymore because… well, it’s a trap.

Sure, at first, you execute the few “quick wins” in the big/easy quadrant. And then you have two options:

  1. You can do the small/easy stuff that will not cause breakout growth... and hope that it compounds before you run out of money?

  2. Go after one of the risky “big bets” (high impact, large investment) that you cannot afford (for want of money or engineering resources). You’ll burn political capital as you battle for resources to make the big bet investments, and you risk your own credibility in the company if it doesn’t pay off.

Thankfully, there is a third option: Small tests of big ideas. The ‘minimum viable test’ lets you go for a big bet while eliminating much of the downside risk. For each big idea, ask yourself what’s the riskiest assumption? And what’s a quick simple way to test that assumption? If the test works, use it to get everyone excited and garner investment for the big idea.

`For Example

The AirBnB founders thought better photography might improve rental rates. But sending professional photographers to every unit on their site would have been too complex and expensive. Instead, they grabbed their cameras and spent a weekend photographing only the listed flats near their base in New York City, to see if that helped conversion, relative to other properties. (It sure did!)

The tricky important bit is to design great experiments: First, for each idea, you need to identify “what are the riskiest assumptions?” Next, what is the quickest easiest way to test each of those assumptions? That’s it — take all your biggest ideas and find ways to test them quickly.

Concrete Next Action For You

Go back through all your old ideas and find the ones that seemed like they could be huge, but were too hard, slow or expensive. Pick the ones you’re most excited about, and dream up some quick simple ways to stress test only the riskiest assumptions. Then, write them up as hypotheses and commit to run 3 experiments in the next two weeks.

I actually think this idea is pretty transformative.

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