Time Is Money. And…


I flew out to Minneapolis last week, primarily to attend a meeting with Target on behalf of a client. 

Left Tuesday night, took a redeye, sat in a hotel and did forecasting for 8 hours Wed., attended a (very) happy hour Wednesday night, met with Target on Thursday, saw another retailer Thursday afternoon, and flew home.

We fit a ton of work into that trip.  I'm still winded.  But I have to say that the most efficient part was the Target meeting itself: 20 minutes.  Not 19, and certainly not 21, but TWENTY minutes, exactly.  It made me feel bad for the vendors that made the trip exclusively for their 20-minute slot, then went home.  At least we had other business to which we could attend.Time Is Money

Now, I know there are specialty folks out there who would bristle at this, but I have to say it: Target does it right.  By forcing the vendor to maximize their 20 minute slot, they cut through all the fluff and get right to the point.  What's working, what's not, how can we do better, and what are your top 1 or 2 ideas for the business next year?  That's it.  Done.  Talk about prioritizing. 

We had our meeting broken down into 5-minute intervals.  Meet & Greet, year-to-date, fall promotions, and developments for next year.  Bam, bam, bam!

I have spoken to a few vendors who were put off by this "processing plant" approach.  They felt that they were important enough to merit more time, that perhaps they had more important topics to discuss than others.  To those vendors, a news flash: TARGET IS DOING YOU A FAVOR!  By breaking it down to the absolute most important bullets, they are helping you streamline, focus, and understand what's most important in your own business.  Preparing for a 20-minute meeting also demands a certain level of professionalism, which a vendor can then impart to other facets of their business.

What really resonated with me is the sheer scale of the business that can be done in 20 minutes.  Granted, there are a bunch of behind-the-scenes activities that drive the day to day business; but it could also be said that the dollars-per-minute ratio of these meetings is tremendous.  In 20 minutes, we talked about a promotion that could drive hundreds of thousands of new dollars this year.  In 20 minutes, we identified a great new product development that could double this vendor's business (and not just at Target).  In 20 minutes, we got a hell of a lot done.

I would encourage every client to think of their business from this perspective.  If you absolutely had to make each critical decision in 20 minutes, how would that impact your thought process?  Product developments, show specials, sales policies, customer prioritization, etc.?  If you had 20 minutes each day to reach out to your account base, whom would you call?  If you only had 20 minutes per day to respond to email, which would you open?

It's true that time is money.  But it's also freedom.  Time is the best thing you can give your family, your friends, your peers.  If I could do one 20-minute meeting a week and get the job done, I'd be the first to sign up.  What would you do with the remaining 10,060 minutes this week?

You've got 20 minutes.  Cut the crap and get it done.

2 thoughts

  1. As a small business owner I am multitasking each day and it is very hard to focus on certain non-pressing issues. I am going to attempt a weekly 20 min marketing meeting to see what we can accomplish. Thanks!

  2. Brian – I agree with you completely; Target is doing it right! Forcing people to boil down their meeting to only the essentials keeps people focused, interested and engaged in the conversation. I wish ALL of my meetings could be like that!

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