McLellan: What don't you know?
Friday, September 20, 2013 7:00 AM
Take off your “I’m trying to be healthier” hat for a minute and answer honestly. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could start every meal with one of your favorite desserts?
You either said yes, or you’re lying! Of course it would be great to do that – desserts are not only tasty, but they’re festive and somewhat celebratory as well. But we know better. We know desserts don’t serve our bodies very well and we can’t live on them alone. (Even if your idea of dessert is fresh fruit.) We have to follow the plan of eating enough of the good-for-us stuff that we can indulge in a dessert now and then.
That same principle works in marketing as well. We all want to rush to the tactics and the creative. It’s easy to get caught up in that trap. And it’s not just because it’s the fun part. We’re under the gun all the time to produce results, and somewhere in our subconscious, there’s a voice urging us to get going already.
There’s a third reason we rush to execution. It’s comfortable. We know how to do it. Marketers live to accomplish and get things done, as a general rule. The execution stage feels right and good.
But if you want to be successful, you need to battle that urge and slow down. You need to stay in the uncomfortable place of not knowing. because that’s where insights and actual innovation happen. All too often, we put together a marketing plan or even a marketing campaign based on what we think we know. We rarely linger in the “what we don’t know” because it’s uncomfortable.
Think about all the assumptions we make every day about everything from how customers perceive our product or service to what it’s like to do business with us.
Especially with the advent of content or digital marketing, many marketers are simply putting out more stuff without much regard to what would actually move the needle. I believe if we were willing to stay in the discomfort of not knowing for longer, we’d actually execute better and enjoy better results.
So, how does one stay in the land of discomfort? I think it all starts with identifying what you don’t know in some key areas. Take my examples and dive much deeper into identifying what you really do not know. Pay attention to the assumptions you’ve been operating on for years. Now is the time to test them.
What you sell: Do you really know what people think about your product or service? Do they understand how to evaluate its quality? What might they consider instead of buying from you?
Your company: Have they ever heard of you? What is the first word that pops in their head when they think of you? From their perspective, what does it say about them if they do business with you?
The buying experience: What does it feel like to buy from you? How consistent is the follow-up? How do your salespeople come off? Are you consistently keeping all of your customer service promises?
Your current customers: How do they talk about you and their buying experience? Do they brag about doing business with you or keep it on the down-low? On a scale of 1 to 10, how delighted are they with you? What would make them go away and make a different choice?
Like I said, these just scratch the surface. You should also be asking yourself what you don’t know about everything from production to promotion and post-sales systems. The biggest danger to you is the assumptions you’re operating under.
The longer you stay in the “what we don’t know” zone, the better your marketing will be. Then, you can treat yourself to some dessert!
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