So you've got your ducks in a row, but are they in the right order?

Get your ducks in the right order, not just in a row

I have a confession to make.  Despite ongoing conscious attempts to avoid using marketing jargon and consultancy-speak, all too often I have found myself using some of those cringe-worthy phrases.  Phrases like “turn up the dial”, “blue sky thinking”, “Imagineering” and “getting your ducks in a row”.

As I understand it, the “ducks in a row” metaphor is used simply to explain that marketing is a mix of many activities which should be aligned in order to have the optimal effect. 

Why ducks?  No idea.  Perhaps because getting a flock of ducks to line up is very difficult? 

Now I’m no duck whisperer, but I’ve built my reputation and business on being able to develop and implement marketing mixes that work together to deliver the desired result (i.e. more awareness, interest and desire for my client’s products and services).

What I realised more recently was that it isn’t enough just to be able to line up your ducks.  You have to make sure that they are in the correct order.

This recognition came about while working with a very successful company that approached me to help them plan, develop and implement a streamlined process for managing sales leads and customer jobs.  Although this isn’t my core skill set, I’ve done this type of work several times before, with varying degrees of success.

You see, the ‘operational’, ‘processing’ or ‘activity’ duck is fairly easy to identify.  What’s not so easy is for companies to adopt this duck.  Put simply, it is fairly easy to develop the right process and systems, but without the right culture in the business, adoption and successful implementation are very difficult and usually destined for failure.

Focusing solely on the ‘process’ or ‘activity’ duck won’t fix the problems with inefficiency in a business.  For this duck to get in line, there first needs to be a shared ‘vision’ duck that all stakeholders can look to and buy in to.  A clearly defined, aspirational and shared vision ‘duck’ enables the business to develop a complimentary ‘strategy’ duck’ which communicates the direction we all need to be pulling in to get to the ‘vision’ duck.

And with your ‘vision’ and ‘strategy’ ducks in place, then the right ‘activity’ duck can be engaged and join the line up, with far greater change of being successfully adopted.

In other words, your ducks need to be lined up in this order:

  1. VISION – work out where you want to go and share it with those that can help you get there.  Make sure they can see the benefits to them of reaching this destination.
  2. STRATEGY – find which way is best to get to where you want to go and share it with the people want to come along for the ride.
  3. ACTION – create processes, systems and activities that enable you and your followers to get to where you want to go.

If you'd like our help choosing, lining up and putting your ducks in the right order, please feel free to get in touch with us.

Neil CorriganComment