bringing testing back

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The countdown to spring here in the Twin Cities always coincides with my office’s fiscal year wrapping and the new one set to begin.  (Best Buy’s fiscal year begins in March as opposed to many companies where the fiscal year mirrors the calendar one.)  It‘s the time to finalize things from the prior year while putting the last details together on our plans for the year to come.  In a way, it’s like we’re getting ready to hit reset.

As I head into my first full fiscal year in my new gig, I’m excited about the planning process.  When I jumped on board with my new team last fall, plans were in place and work was well underway to support out Holiday campaigns.  Now I get to initiate the work by helping lead my team in the development of our annual plan and figuring out where we are going to focus our time and efforts.
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One facet of our plan in particular that I’m excited about is what we are going to do when it comes to testing.  I’m a big fan of experimentation in the marketing space.  Not only do I enjoy getting to learn about emerging marketing approaches and platforms, but I also think it’s important as a marketer to push our thinking and test the boundaries.  And in my case, there isn’t a better position to be in do this than on the digital and social marketing team.
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As we head toward the new fiscal year, there are a couple things we are putting into our plan to support our experimentation efforts.
  • Dedicated exploration days: Instead of fielding ad hoc requests that come our way via cold calls from external technology firms, marketing providers or measurement suppliers, we are carving out a full day this week to meet with a handful of companies that we screened and selected.  We picked them specifically so we can potentially identify firms to potentially partner with on future initiatives.  This is something that we’re going to try to conduct every three-to-four months.
  • Calling our shots: It’s easy to talk abstractly about the desire to test and experiment but never do anything about it.  To help avoid that behavior, my team is formally building experimentation into our plans upfront.  Now at this moment I can’t tell you what exactly those marketing tests may be.  We might conduct a social commerce pilot or we could try out a different social platform or we may do something different altogether, but we’re definitely going to try a couple new things.  To help hold ourselves accountable, we’re going to explicitly call out experimentation as an objective within our annual plan.  When you know that you are going to be evaluated on something then it’s a whole lot easier to focus on making that happen.

I know this approach isn’t rocket science and by no means is it the end-all-be-all way to build experimentation into your everyday work.  But I like how it starts to build the mindset that trying and doing things differently should be part of our jobs.  It should be built into the work and be the norm not the exception.

Plus I know that this isn’t the only way to do this, so if you know of other approaches to working this way or of other teams that do this well, then please weigh in with your thoughts.  Because like I said, I’m always up for learning how to approach things differently.

(Photo courtesy of Creative Commons license: Peter Megyeri.)

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