DO YOU SIT NEAR YOUR COMPANY’S ‘GSD’-ER?

Beware anyone who spends a few seconds of every day telling everyone else: “I’m a ‘get shit done’ kind of person”.

It sounds appealing to have a ‘get shit done’ person on your team, right?

Sadly, the description (like so much bad marketing), often hides a world of trouble.

‘GSD’ people can be difficult colleagues. They often don’t like detail, hate planning and process and despise having it suggested to them that they slow down and work with others on the task in hand. Craft, quality and original thought – these things mean nothing to a GSD-er.

The biggest problem with GSD-ers though is not that they are annoying (they are), but that they measure their impact and success in shit

They literally boast about delivering shit and because volume of activity, rather than quality, is what means most to them,  (“I’ve got another great idea”, “this needs to be actioned now“, “I reckon this shouldn’t take you any more than 15mins…”), shit is exactly what they produce. 

Because GSD-ers often work in isolation of any agreed plan or strategy, they can often spread confusion. I’ve seen GSD-ers spend actual money without bothering to be accountable to anyone else with a stake in owning that budget. 

GSD-ers shy away from collaboration. They delegate lots but share little. They don’t see value in winning people’s support or gathering the buy-in needed to make an idea real.

Frequently, by the time the shit they produce starts to stink, they’re already two or three projects on and have wiped their hands clean of responsibility. 

This is a real conversation I recently had with a GSD-er. I was a consultant. The person’s boss was my direct client but I was involved with other workflows owned by several of the GSD-er’s colleagues. I’d also started looking after the other marketing consultants the client company was using for digital and social marketing and we’d found a pretty good groove as a team. 

GSD-er: “I want a marketing meeting with you and the team to let you know how to help me.”

Me: “Sure thing. We actually already have a couple of weekly marketing meetings with the management team. You want to join those? There’s a lot going on so it would be good to feed your workflows into the bigger plan to make sure we’re aligned and effective.”

GSD-er: “No. I want my own marketing meeting. I don’t care about the things you’re discussing in the other meeting and don’t have the time. I just want to get shit done. I’m a get shit done kind of person. I’m frustrated I haven’t heard back from you after our last call. It feels like we’re drifting.”

Me: “I get it, but we do report to [her boss] who’s agreed a budget against certain goals and deliverables that everyone is now working towards. I actually sought to get the things you and I talked about off the ground, but it hit an impasse because the management team is split between what you’re asking for and what others want. That’s why it would be good to get you into the marketing meeting so you can present. In fact, I was on a call with your team this morning trying to form a plan when I saw your email. I thought you might be on that call so I planned to discuss it with you then. Obviously you couldn’t make it…”

GSD-er: “I wasn’t on the call because those meetings don’t work for me. I don’t like wasting time.”

Me: “Sure. Well, we need to get your ideas in front of the leadership team somehow so we can check in with the CFO on budget…”

GSD-er (interrupts): “We’ve got money – what we don’t have is time. I know what I’m doing – I’ve been doing this for a long time. I can throw money at the problem if you start moving us forward. I love what [a direct competitor and the largest global player in the market] is doing – let’s do that.”

Me: “Yes it’s pretty good. But that’s obviously a different brand with a different promise and they’ve got budgets we don’t have. [Her boss] asked us to differentiate and shake things up as a new entrant remember? We can be beaten on scale and price but we really can differentiate on message and positioning.

GSD-er: “I don’t care about differentiation. [The competitor] is actually doing something. I want to do something.”

Me: (knowing I’m getting nowhere and so resorting to tried-and-tested ‘consultancy pandering’) “Here’s what I suggest. You’re the experienced one here. You’ve done this hundreds of times. Come into the group marketing meeting and share with us the things that have always worked in these campaigns – those elements you’d never want to lose that we can build around?”

GSD-er: “I’m not about to write your marketing strategy for you…”

And so on.

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GSD-ers hold their appeal in any environment where demands and pressure are great and time is short. 

In B2B marketing – particularly in early stage startups, the ratio of salespeople to marketers can be as many as 6:1. Each of those sales people feels they have a legitimate demand on your time and focus. 

How the hell do you do one great piece of content or campaign that will speak to all of their needs; every sales conversation taking place on any given day? That’s before we consider the varied needs of your CEO, COO or commercial director, head of product marketing and so on.

 

It’s impossible. Instead, you probably dash manically between all their priorities trying to add specks of value to each. In reality, you affect nothing. 

 

And even if you do, when was the last time one of those sales reps closed a big deal then publicly thanked you for your contribution to ‘their’ big win and admitted they couldn’t have done it without you? 

 

The only measure of your value to those sales conversations is the speed and appetite with which the sales exec comes back to you again to see what ideas you might contribute to their next deal. 

 

If you’re going to contribute real value, whether that’s to your boss or the sales team, it’s far more likely to be in the form of one big, multi-dimensional idea or insight that transcends the individual industry sectors your business sells to and elevates your company above competitor chatter. It will make for a story big enough to feed the next three months worth of brilliant content.

 

The 20% Rule: How you could speed up by slowing down

The other side of that same challenge that B2B marketers face is that you don’t just have too many people to ‘serve’, you also have limitless channels to manage.

This is especially prevalent in the B2B tech sector where expectations on you are higher due to everyone else’s comfort level with technology. B2B marketing seems often to feel like an endless race to complete as many different activities as you can. 

As an experiment though, why not take the budget for the next five pieces you’ve planned and choose to put it behind one ‘great’ piece. It’s difficult to imagine working that way when there’s so much to do and every senior leader or sales colleague uses you for their own ‘personal’ marketing needs. It’s harder still when you have to admit to them that this one great thing isn’t guaranteed to work. 

But, if you can convince your team however to give you the breathing space to stop producing little bits of marketing shit and instead do something with bigger ambition that does end up working – you’ll demonstrate how effective marketing can be with time to plan and execute an idea with real weight and quality.