Time and time again I am asked what the most common problem seen in online marketing today and my answer has always been the same. In most large companies, marketing typically fall victim to what I call the HIPP Effect. Here HIPP stands for Highest Paid Person. This is the individual, sometimes the marketing director but more often or not someone who is VP or higher that is in charge with overseeing all of marketing. The HIPP Effect is when all of the advertising or marketing is based on the personal preferences of this individual. Typical symptoms include such things as wanting to change the website to a blue color scheme because blue is THEIR favorite color; they want to change the font in an email promotion to one that is “cuter” (believe it or not I heard that one myself); they want to totally change their site’s workflow because they think it is difficult to use or my favorite, they totally rewrite pages optimize that were written specifically with SEO in mind. Typically these actions are done without any testing and in complete disregard of analytics and metrics. Take the workflow example stated above for instance. In that case the person was the VP of Marketing and although the site had an extremely high conversion rate of 30%+ which is amazing she wanted to change it because of her own personal difficulty using the site even though it worked perfectly fine for the customers they wanted. From my understanding they made the change and sales collapsed.
Now anyone who has worked in marketing knows that this is just part of the experience. At one point you will encounter a HIPPster but it is the number one threat to modern digital marketing and advertising. HIPPsters are public enemy number one to the marketing world. In today’s world of analytics, dashboards and attribution modeling, there is no need for marketing to be based on someone’s personal preference and that alone. Everyone has opinions on how something should be done or a change that can be made. A true marketer always has opinions on how to improve a marketing program. What differentiates these people from HIPPsters is a single, 4-letter word: TEST. Testing allows us to see what works and what doesn’t. A HIPPster doesn’t test. They think that their view and only their view is right. Granted, their view may be correct but test it rather than follow blindly. Fortunately for all of my fellow marketers out there I have created a 3-step program for neutralizing the threat of HIPPsterism. (I’m creating so many new words today lol)
1.) Establish Standard Operating Procedures
Creating standard operating procedures for all of your marketing efforts and incorporating rigorous testing as a part of those procedures is one good way to reduce the threat of the HIPPster. Should they have one of their “moments of Brilliance” you can counter by saying you must follow the established procedures and conduct testing of all new marketing concepts and designs.
2.) Include Testing On Your Marketing Calendar
Reinforce the SOPs by including testing on your marketing calendar. Don’t have a calendar? Create one! This is very useful for testing banners, display ads, pages changes and email tests. It also reinforces the SOPs by allowing you to immediately offer a time to test the idea of the HIPPster which will relax them.
3.) Test, Test, Test
You should already be testing long before the HIPPster comes to you with their idea for implementation. You will look like a jerk if you suddenly want to start testing when the HIPPster first comes to you. It certainly won’t endear you to them. By testing everything that can be testing and creating a culture of testing in the marketing department you have a history of testing that will benefit you in fighting back the HIPPster.
Now fighting against HIPPsterism is far from easy. In 100% of cases, the HIPPster is a superior and most likely your direct supervisor. They are the person that can fire you essentially if you make too many waves and don’t follow their direction. That is why they are there after all. But by following the program above you should be able to neutralize most low and medium tier HIPPsters and eliminate the environment in which they thrive- one of where their ideas are followed blindly and without second thought regardless of the potentially damage they can do. However, there are HIPPsters who will find this unacceptable and be offended that their ideas are not follow immediately and to the letter. In my experience the best course of action there is to leave and let them sew their own destruction. A difficult decision certainly but one that frees you from getting the blame when something, and it always does with this type, goes wrong. The MarketingModo team is fully trained and prepared for defensive and offensive actions against HIPPster activity. If your marketing is suffering due to HIPPsterism, contact MarketingModo today!