Shit, I just asked someone to fetch a rock

In a previous job, we used a phrase, “rock fetch.”Rock Fetch

The idea is this –

Asker: go get me a rock roughly this shape and weight.

Doer: here you go.

Asker: no, not that one, a different one.

Often, the Asker is a manager.

As the Doer, it’s awful to be involved in a rock-fetch exercise.  It feel like a waste of time.  It feels like a moving target.  It feels like a bad game where someone knows the answer and is making you guess.

But as the Asker, that isn’t always what’s going on.  I sent someone on what could be considered a rock-fetch exercise last week.  It wasn’t because I knew the answer, I didn’t.  But I also didn’t know what I was looking for until I saw a few things that I wasn’t looking for.

Here’s what happened – we were preparing an email to a set of people in our marketing database who had been interested in our product in the past but hadn’t engaged with us due to timing or budget.  I wanted to understand these leads before we emailed them.  I was interested in things like where we had gotten the leads, how old they were, why they hadn’t engaged, and how else we had interacted with them.

The problem was, I didn’t know how I wanted the data organized.  Mostly because I didn’t know what shape the data would take.  We had a meeting where we chose a bunch of criteria to build a list of contacts.  Since it was a complex query, though, I didn’t know the composition of the list.

Let’s say 85% of the leads were people we met at tradeshows, then I didn’t really need it broken down by lead source.  But if the leads were equally split among tradeshows, seminars, and webinars, then I was interested to see that breakdown.

And I was even more interested to know if all the tradeshow leads were old and all the webinar leads were new; but if the date distribution was pretty even across the event types, then I didn’t need to see it broken down by date.

And then if we knew the leads were distributed evenly across events, but with certain date affinities, I wanted to understand why (for example) tradeshow leads from 18 months ago had an unusually high number of leads who had no budget.

I had a reason for wanting to know all this.  Actually, a lot of reasons.  For this email campaign, I wanted to be sure our messaging would resonate with our audience.  For my future planning, I wanted to be sure we were going to events where we were meeting the right people. I wanted to know – did we use messaging at certain tradeshows that is attracting the wrong crowd?  Did we say the wrong things to prospects after events?

So I did send someone on a rock-fetch exercise.  But I think I had a good reason.

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