Prioritize Like a P&L

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Today I was having lunch with a friend who is VP of
Marketing for a local startup. Small budget, lots to do…how to prioritize?

In my experience, when you’re trying to grow revenue as fast as possible with little time, money and resources, it’s important to think about
the after-launch resources a program will take. 

Think about any program or initiative as an ongoing P&L.
The best projects will have sustaining value, like a business that has
sustaining profits. In fact, you should first think about the projects that
have a clear and direct impact on revenue or cost savings. Can you answer the
question: "This program/initiative will have an impact on our bottom line
because…"

The biggest mistake in selecting programs is the costs of
sustainment. Usually things get set in motion that take human capital as part
of the processes. The ideal projects are those that are set in motion, sustian
and/or grow in impact over time and require little resources to sustain.

Many projects I’ve launched that risked failure and often got
orphaned are those that required ongoing program management time and processes.
If it was part of an existing process it was easier to absorb. Creating new
processes, owners, measures, reporting, etc. and sustaining all of this is an
investment – COGS and Opex in a P&L. Sometimes it’s worth it…but most of the time we underestimate the cost of sustainment.

So, look for the projects that can ‘blossom’ on their own.
For example, customer created content is great because once you facillitate the
interaction, each piece of content adds to the impact. However, an editorial
program requires your own resources to maintain is a lot more cost to sustain (like this blog!). Obviously the bigger the
impact on revenue, costs and margin is a consideration and may be worth
sustaining costs. But if you evaluate a new program like an ongoing P&L before you start, determining the COGS and Opex vs. the revenue/margin benefit, you avoid high opoprtunity costs of your time and resources.

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