In the excellent book The Emergency Mind by Dan Dworkis, MD PhD, he talks about the ABC algorithm emergency medical providers use in a crisis:
Airway, then Breathing, then Circulation.
“Each step,” he writes, “A, then B, then C—must function properly before the next step has a chance to work.”
This means that doctors can “cut through the uncertainty and focus [their] energy where it is most needed by looking first at the airway, then progressing from there.”
Critically, the ABCs are a “‘do not pass go’ strategy, meaning that if a problem is identified in one step, you do not move on to the next step until that problem is addressed.”
You don’t worry about circulation unless the patient is breathing. And you don’t worry about breathing unless the airway is clear.
Now, I’ve said before that there are no marketing emergencies, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the crises of others, and what they do about them.
Your marketing needs a “do not pass go” strategy. You need an order of operations to know what to check, and in what order, to make sure you’re doing the right things.
The structure I use with my clients is called DEW, which stands for:
Is it Working?
When we’re frustrated with our marketing, or we’re not sure if it’s having the desired results, or is likely to, we can’t begin by asking whether it’s working.
Because if we’re not enjoying it, we’re probably not doing our best. And how can we expect suboptimal efforts to offer optimal results?
As one historian wrote, “Efficiency springs from enthusiasm—because this alone can develop a dynamic impulse.”
We can’t enjoy something we feel compelled to do, and we can’t outperform our dissatisfaction.
As Dale Carnegie famously wrote, “People rarely succeed at anything unless they have fun doing it.”
But before we can determine if we’re enjoying our marketing, we have to be honest with ourselves about whether we’re actually doing it. Are we working regularly, consistently, and in a way that can work—by reinforcing a unique marketing position?
We might think we’re doing our marketing, but if all we’re doing is getting attention, without focusing on what would need to be true to get sales, we’re just wasting time and energy.
And we need to be honest about the pace we can sustain. Making a few social media posts a day for two weeks and then stopping because we ran out of ideas is no better than doing nothing at all.
We need to do what’s sustainable, and, as Greg McKeown wrote in Effortless, you must not do more today “than you can completely recover from today. Do not do more this week than you can completely recover from this week.”
Otherwise you’ll give up before you can enjoy it, and before it can work.
So that’s the DEW algorithm. When you find yourself wondering if your marketing is working, or if it could be working better, stop.
First, consider whether you’re actually Doing it, whether it can work based on what needs to be true to attract a customer, and if you have the energy, enthusiasm, and money necessary to sustain this pace for months or years to come.
Next, make it fun. Do what you like before you worry about doing it perfectly. You’ve got to Enjoy your work to do your best, and it’s only your very best that will bring success.
Finally, you can figure out whether it’s Working. Do you have evidence that the right people are seeing your marketing? Do you have evidence that it’s interesting to them? Evidence that they’re considering you as an option? And evidence that they prefer your unique process more than the alternatives?
Those are the levers of measurement to adjust and optimize, before you worry about complicated dashboards and incremental improvements.
DEW is the way to make sure your marketing can work, will work, and is working.
Call it hokey. Call it silly. Call it whatever you like.
As long as you DEW it.