Documentation is under-appreciated.

Marketers are running against time. We all need to launch campaign X by time Y.

Documentation often becomes an afterthought. A nice-to-have. It’s often neglected as less critical than getting a campaign executed.

However, in my experience, documentation is a discipline that’s important for every marketer to master.

Marketing is a knowledge-based sport. Documentation is key to capturing that knowledge and helps make all of our future efforts easier, better, and more effective.

What does documentation mean?

Documentation is the asynchronous capture of communication – specifically, discussions held and decisions made.

Itโ€™s not a replacement of live discussions, but a supplement. Documentation drives clarity, transparency, and decision making.

Documentation can take whatever form that suits you. Any format – a project brief, meeting minutes, status update – and located anywhere – Google Docs, Asana, Confluence, email – as long as it carries useful information that you can easily share with your team.

Why is documentation important?

It’s an effective time-saver for everyone

The bigger the organization you work in, the more decisions are being made every day (up and down the chain).

It’s impossible for everyone to keep up with every discussion and decision made within the business. We all have personal lives outside of work!

You may ask:”Does everyone need to know about every single decision?“.

Well, not necessarily. It depends on your organization’s work/management style and the trust the business puts on its teams.

Having said that, decisions should always be easily referenced. Especially those that relate to business outcomes, because that’s what business leaders care about.

And documentation, even if just a meeting minute, serves that purpose.

It builds credibility in your work

Documentation creates trust.

Trust from your peers and managers that thought was put into every single detail of your work.

Whether it’s a statement of the problem you are trying to solve, explicitly surfacing challenges that you’re facing and how you plan to overcome them, or calling out explicit business outcomes expected from a project.

All of these details underpin the work.

It’s a managerial responsibility

If you’ve ever gone through formal management training, you would know that documentation is 101 skill for any manager.

Why?

Because it captures (potentially subjective) thoughts and opinions at a particular point in time and makes them objective, through the lens of the business.

I.e., here is the information we have today; here are the insights we can take from that information; and here is the decision we’re making based on those insights.

In other words, it avoids a situation of needing to reconstruct your thought process months down the line when defending or explaining a decision reached.

Summary

Documentation alone is not going to make or break your career.

But in my view, it is a critical skill to master, especially if you are a knowledge worker.

There is a saying in Sales – if it’s not in Salesforce, it didn’t happen.

I believe a similar principle applies to marketing and other disciplines, just in different forms of documentation.

Website 6-month Progress

I started writing and posting on this website when the pandemic hit in April 2020.

Fast forward 6 months and it’s suddenly October. Hashtag 2020.

In my very first post, Why Start a Website, I wrote that I want the website to achieve three things:

  1. Organize my thoughts in a structured way
  2. Get better in writing
  3. Rank high on SERP to represent me as a digital marketer

#1 and #2 will need to be graded subjectively. My wife passes me on both.

#3 can be graded more objectively. rodolfoyiu.com is now ranking #2 for the search term “rodolfo yiu”, just behind my Linkedin profile. So another pass!

SERP for the search term “rodolfo yiu”

Putting that aside, I want to share in this post some of the more unplanned achievements from this website…

1. There are more people than expected coming to my site

My expectations were pretty low to begin with. Perhaps hoping for 10 users a week?

In the last few weeks, I had 40+ users/week coming to my site with 90%+ new users. I’m also surprised 60%+ of users coming in Direct and the rest Organic. ๐Ÿค”

Total Traffic of rodolfoyiu.com from April to October 2020

2. CTAs work

In almost every post, I asked the reader to add me on Linkedin if they found the content interesting.

Surprisingly, my most popular post “Review: Prof G Strategy Sprint” led to three people adding me on Linkedin, out of the blue.

Example Linkedin Message from the post

It was clear that SEO plays a significant role in that post’s distribution as it is ranking #3 on search term “prof g strategy sprint review”.

More about CTAs…

I have inserted Amazon Affiliate links in the book recommendation, and they have generated $1.36!

3. Lastly, writing is helping me to think clearly

Writing is certainly more of an art than science. And it’s an art that I’m not particularly good at!

Writing continuously challenges me to think from the reader’s point-of-view. It pushes me to use the simplest language possible to articulate my points and tell a story coherently and concisely.

The challenges are not easy for a writing rookie like me and that’s why I am taking a class called “writing with flair” to try to improve writing.

Wish me luck, and until next time!

Review: Prof G Strategy Sprint

What is Prof G Strategy Sprint?

It is a 2-week intensive course, taught by Professor Scott Galloway, who is a Professor of Marketing at NYU Stern and Bestselling Author of โ€œThe Fourโ€ and “Algebra of Happiness”.

During the course, Scott explains the 8 winning strategies of the most innovative and valuable firms in the world, focusing mostly FAANG.

There is also a network of nearly 1,000 students across many industries that you can ideate and discuss the strategies with.

It costs $750 and you can see more information about the course here.

What is the T-Algorithm?

The “8 winning strategies” is the T-Algorithm strategy; a set of strategies that define trillion dollar firms today. T stands for Trillion.

The T-Algorithm consists of (with a product of Apple as an example):

  1. Appealing to Human Instinct – how the company’s’ products or services differentiate itself from the competition and add value to consumers in an intangible way of psychology. (iWatch and accessories)
  2. Accelerant – how the company creates a culture to attract the best talent. (Apple being the most valuable brand of the world)
  3. Growth and Margins – how the company’s strategy reflect the focus and balance of margins and growth. (iPhone and app store)
  4. Bundles – how the company creates relevant services bundle to generate value. (Apple Music)
  5. Vertical Integrations – how the company supply chain is vertically integrated (Apple retail stores)
  6. Benjamin Button (aka Network Effects) – how the company product becomes more valuable when more people use it. (Apple Maps)
  7. Visionary Storytelling – how stories are told and the power of that (Apple product release event)
  8. Likability – how the executives of the company are likeable by the public (Steve Jobs and Tim Cook)

During the course, these 8 strategies are released in 4 modules of 4 videos each, detailing each of the strategies with case studies.

Students then discuss the content over Slack in groups.

At the end of the course, each student is required to submit an exercise applying the T-Algorithm to a company of their choice with recommendations.

Upon completion, this qualifies for a digital certification with a Linkedin badge. Mine like this.

Prof G Certification on Linkedin

Worth noting that the strategy is similar to Scott’s book of “The Four”, but the content in the videos are high production and absorbed easily.

What are the pros and cons of the course?

Pros

  1. It’s a bargain for the quality of learning.
    For $750, you have an almost-celebrity lecturer teaching the strategies of modern technology companies with a unique perspective. I did a formal MBA myself – the Harvard case studies were often a decade old and the quality is sub-optimal compared to what Scott is producing.
  2. The strategies are relevant to today’s world.
    When I enrolled in the sprint, I expected the strategies to largely focus on modern technology companies. However, Scott does try hard to make a point that the strategies are and should apply to all other businesses. The T-Algorithm would be a guiding light on how to create differentiators to your company. Many classmates, who run some sort of service/agency businesses, have meaningful discussions on applying the strategies to their environment. (but it’s hard).
  3. Opens your worldview.
    Scott’s strategy sprint definitely brings a unique perspective on how to value different types of businesses. His POV is sharp and inspiring – I often left the session thinking more about Okta and other businesses. All the participants are from different parts of the world, which added colour to the discussion.

Cons

  1. Networking is over-hyped.
    One of the main benefits the sprint is selling is to network with different classmates of different industries from different parts of the world. The course did bring people together, but the networking does not happen naturally, particularly remotely on Slack (compared to any in-person events). I did make an effort to reach out to classmates on Linkedin to share notes, who have something in common, either located in San Francisco or work in tech/marketing.
  2. The discussions are noisy.
    The discussions within your class occur entirely in Slack, and there are three main channels – 1) your entire class of 1,000 people, 2) your cohort of about 150 people, and 3) your discussion group of about 20 people. You can imagine the discussions in #1 and #2 are just mayhem. The discussion in #3 is kind of hit-or-miss depending on the person starting the discussion.
  3. Some material overlaps.
    If you have read Scott’s book “The Four” or listened to his podcast “The Prof G Show with Scott Galloway”, the material or case studies is not very far off from what he discussed in the sprint. His POV on Apple or Peloton does not change much from 2019 to 2020. Well – you may argue the COVID factor makes him/ the market even more bullish.

Conclusion

Overall, I did have a positive experience.

The spring was a great opportunity to challenge myself to learn something meaningful out of my day-to-day job while we are all in shelter-in-place.

If you want to enrol the course, do make a list of what you want to get out of it. That may be helpful in maximizing the value of it.

If you like what you read, send me a message on Linkedin. ๐Ÿ‘‹

Review: Masterclass Goodby and Silverstein on Advertising

With many Instagram ads from Masterclass, I finally purchased a Masterclass annual pass.

My first class?

Jeff Goodby & Rich Silverstein Teach Advertising and Creativity.

Run by the founders of advertising called Goodby Silverstein & Partners, located in San Francisco.

It is one of the best online courses I have taken.

The content did not feel like work at all – it was entertaining and rich in learnings.

Here are my top 3 takeaways:

1. Advertising is all about TELLING A GOOD STORY

There are plenty of case studies and client stories in the 18-lesson series. Each of them is equally brilliant and clever.

What stood out most to me is that creativity is the most important aspect of advertising.

And advertising is simply a way to tell a story.

A story can be delivered in different formats – 30-second tv ad, print in magazine, instagram ad or podcast.

Regardless of the format, the spirit of advertising is how to tell a good story. The format is almost irrelevant as long as the story is compelling, consistent, and memorable.

Each brand is unique because the brand story is unique – how to use creativity and advertising to create a memorable moment is the million dollar question.

My favorite story is the Rainbow Doritos – a story bringing people together in Texas.

Rainbow Doritos Are Back, But Only In Mexico โ€” Here's How You Can ...

2. Client is KING in advertising agency (no-brainer)

An advertising agency is a business after all.

Goodby and Silverstein share their career journey and how did they partner to form/run the iconic San Francisco agency.

It was insightful to learn about the inner workings of an agency, from sourcing pitches, getting new businesses, ideating and implementing a campaign.

There is so much work, tears, and blood behind a production of a campaign.

It gave me an enhanced appreciation for any ad campaign.

3. Be passionate, in everything you do

In the end of the day, it is the good work to build the reputation of the creative genius.

And who create the good work?

People

And why do people create good work?

Passion drives creativity and the desire to deliver perfection.

When Goodby and Silverstein retold a story, regardless how recent the story was, I could see their eyes glow with pure passionate for their work.

And that passion is contagious.

After each class, I often found myself googling the topics and campaigns that they were talking about.

A prime example was Adobe Marketing Cloud. The ad campaign is so funny (to me as a marketer) that I was looking for more.

Summary

I wish there are more high-quality advertising class or story to consume.

Send me a note if you have any good recommendations! ๐Ÿ˜‰

First Post: Why Start a Website?

Why Start a Website?

I’ve tried to answer this question, myself, on a number of occasions.

It’s actually not the first time I’ve written for a blog or even paid for this domain. Consistently writing has never really ‘stuck’ despite having a range of topics and ideas (alongside with my partner, Jessica) I’ve wanted to write more about.

Over the last couple of months, many of these topics have come up with friends and family. Adding some pressure to wanting somewhere to document our thoughts outside of iMessage threads and with a bit more posterity.

In 2020, my friends, Andy and James, bought the domain for my birthday. Now that I feel particularly motivated to write, why not start now on my website!

As a digital marketer, I’m also curious about what the internet has to say about me; the search result. Most of the time, top 1 SERP is my LinkedIn profile. Is it a good description of myself? Should I try to control the narrative? Should I even care about my internet presence at all?

I don’t have solid answers to those questions, but I do know that a big part of bettering myself is getting my thoughts down on paper, reflecting on them, and generally getting more practice in creative channels. A website can help with all of the above.

General Guidelines

  • Thoughts are our own.
  • Topics are likely to cover a wide variety of topics, from digital marketing and work to my personal life.
  • Excuse my grammar. I’m not a big writer and I like to write about complicated subjects.
  • If you like a post, do let me know via Linkedin or Instagram. I’ll appreciate the feedback.

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