How to control your way to success
Nick Le Chat Client Partner
6 min read
Monday, 9th August 2021
Updated: Thursday, 20th January 2022
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting my third sentence to be an Angelina Jolie quote. I actually thought it’d be something from Aristotle or Socrates but Google was feeling more Hollywood A-List than ancient philosophies finest, so here goes:
“Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”
As people and as marketers, we can only control what we have control over, sounds obvious doesn’t it. Some things are simply out of our hands and whilst we may be able to influence, we don’t have the final say and ultimately, whatever happens, happens.
In this post, I’ll be looking into the things that we as marketers (be it agency, or in-house) can control and how this can allow us to succeed.
Technically, I’m being paid to say this (wage and that) but if I saw the work we do as an outsider, I’d say the same thing as I’m about to - we at Rise at Seven are bloody good at what we do.
There’s multiple reasons for this and you can find out a whole lot more on the Rise at Seven website but the one I’m going to focus on here is this - if we give a hard and fast KPI, we guarantee it. If we say we’re going to get a client 200 links in a year, you can bet your life savings that we will absolutely build you at least 200 links. Worst case scenario, it takes us slightly longer than a year (this very rarely happens) but the links will be built - and they will be good ones too.
Why do we offer a link guarantee? Because it provides both us as the agency and our client control. Both parties know EXACTLY what the deliverable is going to be so there are no nasty surprises. Instead, there are often lovely surprises, whereby we hit KPI earlier than expected so we simply up it. No extra charge, no extra work, just extra success.
“Do you guarantee everything you do, even like rankings?”
Thanks for asking, but I’m afraid we don’t. The reason being, we simply don’t have complete control over this. We can assume that we’ll be able to influence this with the links (assuming digital PR is our sole remit) we build, but we don’t make the decisions when it comes to who ranks where. That’s Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo etc and they’re ranking sites on more than just the numbers and quality of links.
As an agency we can provide forecasts, but forecasts are merely that.
Let’s go somewhere else for a second - you’ve planned for a sunny day in a beer garden with your mates, you can literally feel yourself drinking that ice cold pint ‘gulp, gulp, gulp, ah delicious’ and then like that, it’s cold, it’s raining, your mates don’t fancy sitting in a dreary pub so now you’re at home watching Dinner Date.
Yes, we forecast, but we can’t guarantee conversion numbers or the amount of traffic that a client will get. We can make our best guess based on a number of factors, but it’s not something we can guarantee, so we don’t hold ourselves or tell our clients that we’ll hit certain numbers. Especially if we only have control over a select number of channels.
Looking on the other side, if you’re an in-house marketer and you don’t have an agency, make sure that you only commit to KPIs that you have control over. It might well be an objective to gain X amount of visibility in a year, but that’s not something you have direct control over. Rather, you have control over certain aspects of sites speed or the content that’s being put on the site, so make sure that these are your benchmark for success, not the overall objective,
In short, if you’re an agency or an in-house marketer and you want to know how to control success - make sure that what is deemed as a success can be guaranteed and if it can’t either don’t guarantee it OR look for things that you can guarantee as part of it.
Contact and communications
You can only control the things you have control over - and one of the things we have control over is how much we contact and how we communicate with our clients.
If we find that our campaigns aren’t quite getting the journalist interest or the number of links that we’d expected, we can communicate this with the client and suggest what we’ll be doing to improve this.
By taking control of the situation, we (as the agency) are giving ourselves a much better chance of success with the campaign. Not only that, but we’re also giving the client the information that they need to report back to their boss, thus controlling the narrative on their end.
On the other hand, if a campaign is going well, or you’ve managed to start ranking on the first page for a highly sought after keyword, tell the client, tell your boss. Don’t expect them to find themselves. Control the narrative. Show them the success that you have helped generate.
TLDR - you have control over how much you speak to your clients (or your boss), use this to your advantage. Keep them in the loop and tell them what you’re doing to change things.
We all know feedback is important - it’s how we get better as people, it’s how we get better in our jobs. And the reason for this? According to Merriam-Webster, feedback is ‘the transmission of evaluative or corrective information about an action, event, or process to the original or controlling source’.
Read that again. Feedback is the giving of information about an action, event or process to the original or controlling source. Therefore, the controlling source can control the outcome of future actions, events or processes.
And how do you get feedback? You ask questions. So if you ask for some feedback from a client or from your boss and they say “actually, I loved this, but I didn’t really like that” then by doing more of what they liked and less of what they didn’t like should be seen as a success.
We can take this one step further and look at user feedback. Let’s say you have a website that sells cowboy boots (I appreciate it’s fairly niche) and you’re getting loads of traffic but no one is buying anything, then you need to find out why this is the case and you can do this via user testing. There are loads of tools like Hotjar that can show you how users are behaving on the site and, from using this information, you can conduct tests (we also do CRO, wink wink) which will then show how to turn these users into buyers.
Top line - feedback is important, look for it, ask for it. Without it, you are missing out on information that you often have direct control over to improve your website, your press release, your job etc.
I’m going to end this with a quote from Epictetus - it only seems right given that we started with Angelina Jolie...
“Some things are within our power, while others are not. Within our power are opinion, motivation, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not within our power are our body, our property, reputation, office, and, in a word, whatever is not of our own doing”
In summary, don’t try and control the things that you don’t have control over, you’ll simply come unstuck. Focus on the things that you do have control over, make sure you do them well and you’ll be on your way to controlling the success of whatever it is that you’re doing.