By Rex Hammock

Since this is the last Idea Email of 2016 (we will be back on Thursday, January 5), I decided to save you some time by suggesting these four New Year’s resolutions for managers and marketers.

1. Buy an Amazon Echo Dot and force yourself to use it.

If you’re in marketing, you need to learn how to talk to a computer that has no screen or keyboard. I wrote about Amazon’s Echo device in February, and I am convinced that voice command to an invisible internet connection is in every customer’s future and, therefore, every marketer’s future. Google has released a competing device, and Microsoft has started licensing its voice-command software, Cortana, to third parties. Expect Apple to release Siri-centric products in 2017, perhaps as early as January. Why should you learn to use voice command? Remember when you first started using your phone’s speaker button? This is the same, only better: In voice command’s case, the person on the other end of the call knows everything.

2. Pick a social media platform you don’t understand commit to using it every day for a month..

I often hear people say that they refuse to waste time using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or other social media platforms. And I’ll confess: Despite being Nashville Technology Council’s first-ever Social Media/Blogger of the Year (2009), I also think much of social media is a major waste.

However, it’s a waste in the tradition of the quote by the famed retailer John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” In other words, until you use a social media platform enough to know how it’s a waste, you can’t dismiss it. And as much as I wish it weren’t so, you can’t understand a social media platform by having someone explain it to you. You have to use it every day for an extended period of time. The good news: The more you practice this resolution, the quicker you’ll know when to stop wasting your time.

3. Learn how to create these four elements in Excel.

  1. A table containing the attributes you’ll be charting
  2. A line chart
  3. A pie chart
  4. A bar chart

If these tools are already in your skill set, skip to the next resolution. However, you may be surprised that many very smart people can’t do these four tasks. With so much data available to marketers today, Excel and Google Sheets have become the foundation for creating data visualization that influences major decisions. Unless you know how to translate numbers into a graphical story, it’s hard to make a convincing argument. (Getting an assistant to do it for you doesn’t count!)

4. Read The Circle by Dave Eggers before it’s released as a movie in April.

The Circle is not the greatest science fiction I can recommend, and I’m expecting even less from the movie, despite it starring Tom Hanks. However, the techno-thriller is an entertaining yarn about the unintended consequences of quickly embracing what appears to be awesome new technology intended to solve horrible problems. It reminds me of the late Michael Crichton’s approach to peeking around a corner at the future. Though it’s three years old, the book is all the more relevant because of what’s happened in the real world since it first came out.

Thank you for opening your Idea Email every other Thursday, and Happy New Year!


Rex Hammock

About Hammock Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.