grant lingel vs jun loayza

On setting priorities

“The podcast is key for our success. We absolutely need to differentiate our content so that professionals begin to see us as experts in online marketing.” Grant argued.

“I just don’t see it. Sure, podcasts are an interesting medium, but the vast majority of successful podcasts are created by entertainment and media publications such as NPR.” I retorted. “The podcast won’t be a big customer acquisition channel for us.”

“It can and it will. Trust me.” Grant was persistent.

Priorities. Everyone has them; few people actively and consciously set them.

There are two challenges we face with setting and accomplishing priorities:

  1. Scheduling distraction-free time to complete priorities
  2. Prioritizing priorities (see what I did there)

To settle our debate about creating a podcast in Q2, Grant and I conducted a priority session. In this article, we’ll examine how we set priorities on the Growth Team for Bunny Inc.

how-to-set-priorities

1. We started with high-level objectives

“What are your high-level objectives for Q2?” I asked. Together, we came up with the following list of objectives, tied with their corresponding KPI:

  • Traffic
    • KPI: Google analytics traffic
  • Brand recognition
    • KPI: Number of mentions reported by Google alerts
  • Revenue
    • KPI: Revenue attributed to content marketing
  • Domain authority
    • KPI: Domain authority as reported by Moz

We then prioritized the objectives based on the importance to the company:

  1. Revenue
    • This one is a no-brainer. As a bootstrapped company, we depend on revenue to grow.
  2. Brand recognition
    • Word of mouth is our second largest customer acquisition channel and our best recruitment tool. We are making a considerate effort to improve our thought leadership and brand recognition globally.
  3. Domain authority
    • Search engines (specifically Google) is our number 1 customer acquisition channel. Though we can use “search engine traffic” as the main indicator for success on this front, I prefer using Domain Authority as a measurement of our progress because we can compare that number to our industry and our competitors.
  4. Traffic
    • Traffic is meaningless unless it’s the right traffic. Our objectives will not focus traffic just for the sake of more page views.

2. How will we accomplish our objectives?

Now comes the fun part. This was the wild brainstorming side where we suggested ideas to achieve our objectives. No judgments here: all ideas are welcome and encouraged.

Here is the list of ideas that we came up with:

  • Podcast
  • Blog articles (SEO-focused)
  • Guides (more robust than simple blog articles)
  • Guest posts
  • Company blog (Different to the SEO-focused blog. The company blog is where the leadership team plans to establish our thought leadership in our areas of expertise.)

3. We scored each initiative with ICE

  • I = Impact
  • C = Confidence
  • E = Effort

ICE is a simple yet powerful prioritization method.

How it works: we score each category from 1 – 10 (10 being the best). We then average the score to get the total ICE number. The higher the ICE score, the higher the priority.

Podcast

  • Impact:
    • Grant: 10
    • Jun: 7
    • Score: 8.5
  • Confidence:
    • Grant: 8
    • Jun: 3
    • Score: 5.5
  • Effort:
    • Grant: 9
    • Jun: 9
    • Score: 9
  • Total score: 7.67

Grant is very emotionally invested in the podcast, which is why he gave it such high scores. This is why it’s important to have several people score initiatives: to achieve an objective score.

The area that we most disagreed about was the Confidence part of ICE.

“We have lined up many top marketers for our initial podcast, including Rand Fishkin of Moz and Neil Patel of Quick Sprout.” Grant stated. “For this reason, our success with the podcast is almost guaranteed.”

“Most people have no idea who Rand and Neil are.” I countered. “Yes, marketers know, but if they follow Rand and Neil, then most likely they’re reading their blogs. Few people may actually want to listen to a podcast featuring them.”

To further drive my point, I searched YouTube for “Rand Fishkin interview”. There were many videos, with the majority gaining only a couple hundred views.

rand fishkin interview

It could have a high impact (which is why it has a high impact score), but there is low confidence in this initiative as I have not seen many successful podcasts run by B2B companies.

Blog articles (SEO-focused)

  • Impact:
    • Grant: 9
    • Jun: 10
    • Score: 9.5
  • Confidence:
    • Grant: 9
    • Jun: 9
    • Score: 9
  • Effort:
    • We calculated that it would take about 25% of Grant’s time to accomplish this objective
    • Score: 7.5
  • Total score: 8.67

No major disagreements here. We know that search is our number one customer acquisition channel, so it makes sense to devote more time and resources to it.

Guest posts

  • Impact:
    • Grant: 7
    • Jun: 6
    • Score: 6.5
  • Confidence:
    • Grant: 8
    • Jun: 7
    • Score: 7.5
  • Effort:
    • We calculated that it would take about 15% of Grant’s time.
    • Score: 8.5
  • Total score: 7.5

What blasphemy is this? How can any SEO initiative not place a high priority on link building?

Link building is critically important, but note that this initiative is titled “guest posting”, not “link building”.

Let’s analyze the direct benefits we’ve gained from three guest articles that we published:

  1. Unbounce: Finding Inspiration to Write Unbeatable Copy for Landing Pages
    • Traffic to VoiceBunny: 7 pageviews
  2. Infusionsoft: The Benefits of Using CRM Software
    • Traffic to VoiceBunny: 2 pageviews
  3. Lifehack:  The Best Freelancing Sites
    • Traffic to VoiceBunny: 88 pageviews

In addition, we ask our clients how they learned about us. I have yet to detect someone say that they’ve learned about us from one of our guest articles.

The argument can be made that the links in those articles are great for our SEO efforts. This is true; however, it’s not necessarily a scalable model, nor beneficial in the long run to keep getting links from the same sites.

Instead, we should focus on user-generated links.

4. You can only choose three

The final scores (from highest to lowest):

  1. Blog articles: 8.67
  2. Guides: 8.17
  3. Company blog: 8.17
  4. Podcast: 7.67
  5. Guest posts: 7.5

The challenge is NOT to do everything possible; the challenge is cutting back and focusing on initiatives that are important to hit company objectives.

From our ICE analysis, we found that blog articles, guides, and the company blog were the top three initiatives that Communications should lead in Q2.

What about the podcast? Since the podcast didn’t make the cut, it won’t be a priority initiative for Q2, which means that Grant’s OKRs will not reflect the podcast; however, Grant will continue to work on the podcast on his own time.


Setting priorities effectively is one of the most important things that any team can do. As a leader, you must help your team objectively make decisions about prioritization to best accomplish company goals.

I encourage you and my team to use ICE to set priorities. I would also love to learn about the methodologies that you utilize to set them.

Published by

Jun Loayza

Jun Loayza is the Chief Growth Officer at Bunny Inc. In his startup experience, he has sold 2 technology companies and raised $1M in angel funding. Jun lives in San Francisco, CA with his wife Kim.

5 thoughts on “On setting priorities”

  1. Hey Jun, thanks for laying out your process with an example. Arm wrestling would also have settled the score. How do you consider creative talent into the score (Grant could be an upper-tier talent in producing podcasts)? Cheers -Erik

  2. Jun, thanks for sharing the process!
    I agree with your point in regards to the podcast.
    While the audience of podcasts is growing, and according to Fast Company «Podcasters have figured out a range of ways to monetize their engaged audiences», I think it is very costly to make a good radio show when your company doesn’t work on entertainment and media publications (Article: http://www.fastcompany.com/3041522/pod-power).

    It would be really costly for a company to make a well-produced podcast, it takes time, effort, knowledge, etc. If you listen to radio shows produced by companies as a marketing effort, they are often just interviews made via Skype. I bet the reason is the cost. Many times they do not explore and idea thought an episode with many interviews, a good host taking you through arguments, or a script (which is key in shows like Freakonomics, Serial, 99% invisible, and other successful productions). In short, I think making a podcast in Bunny Inc. should be either a really easy task to do or a project with a very high impact.

    1. Thanks for your comment Laura.

      It’s not just budget — it’s expertise. To produce a podcast that people love, often times the creators must have a media and entertainment background.

  3. Hey Jun! Anyway you could email me or I could email you in regards to starting an online clothing store with a couple questions I have?

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