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Stephen Covey’s Marketing Legacy

Stephen Covey’s Marketing Legacy
By Jerry Rackley
Vice President of Marketing & Product Development, Demand Metric
July 18, 2012

reposted with permission from Demand Metric’s blog

Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“, died this week from complications of a cycling accident he suffered in April. Most business people are familiar with Covey’s work, even if they have not read his 7 Habits book. Many of these habits are deeply ingrained in our business psyche to the point their connection to Covey as the author is unrecognized. He taught us to be proactive, put first things first, think win-win, start with the end in mind, sharpen the saw and other practical wisdom that was elegant in its simplicity.

While he was clearly one of the most influential business thinkers and leaders of our time, you might not think of him as a marketing guru. Yet his insights, if heeded, make for better marketers and marketing. Beginning with the end in mind is great advice for us. What better way to construct a strategy or develop a campaign than to start by understanding what success looks like?

During my marketing career, Covey’s wisdom regarding time management has resonated most deeply with me. He devised a simple 2 X 2 matrix to categorize how we spend our time. We can order our personal and professional lives around things that are either Urgent or Not Urgent, and Important and Not Important. Most of us allow the Urgent to intrude and interrupt our work, really asserting control over us. The Urgent includes a crisis, putting out a “fire” or completing a project on deadline. So much of our daily existence falls into the Urgent category, leaving no time for the Important, such as planning, relationship building or creative thinking.

The result of living life in the Urgent lane is a dulling of passion and capability – burnout. It happens to marketers all the time, or I should say, we let it happen to us. The Urgent will beat out the Important every time, if we allow it to. It’s up to us to recognize that the Important will never work its way onto our calendar unless we intervene, deliberately throwing off the shackles of the tyranny of the urgent.

The best way for marketers to not become victims of the Urgent is through the creation of and commitment to a marketing strategy. When a solid, documented marketing strategy that is supported by upper management directs the marketing team’s efforts, it is a powerful deterrent to the Urgent. When those who bombard marketing with ad hoc requests for marketing support (hey, I just bought an ad in my kid’s school yearbook – can you lay that out for me? It’s due tomorrow…), the marketing strategy is there to intervene. It’s easy to field such requests, carefully consider them and judge their merits against the strategy. Saying “no” to the wrong ones is easy when the weight of a marketing strategy is brought to bear. On the other hand, without a marketing strategy to guide decision-making, it’s tough for marketing leaders to say “no”, even when their instincts are telling them to. They appear arbitrary when they do, but worse, if they say “yes” to most requests, they and the teams they lead become slaves to the Urgent.
So marketers owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Covey for the influence his 7 Habits have had on our profession. If you’re tired of being pushed around by the Urgent, perhaps you need to force a break and spend some time developing a marketing strategy that will improve your effectiveness and restore your sanity. Demand Metric has tools and services to help you do just that.

About the Author

Jerry Rackley joined Demand Metric in October 2011 as Vice President of Marketing & Product Development. He began his 28-year marketing career at IBM, and his work record includes experience in the technology and financial services sectors. During his career, he has worked with companies ranging in size from startups to members of the global 1000, performing marketing, marketing communication, public relations and product management work. A graduate of Oklahoma State University, he is an adjunct Marketing faculty member in the Spears School of Business.

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