MARKETING INSIDER

The Biggest Challenge in Marketing

or… I don’t care what you like, and neither should you.

Joshua Cook, Chief Branding Navigator

7 March 2017

I recently was asked what I find most challenging about working in marketing.

Truthfully, I didn’t know how to answer – “every day is a new challenge,” yadda, yadda, yadda. Sure, that is true and should be for anyone passionate about their job who wants to push boundaries each day. Challenges should be sought out. But that may be the truest bullshit answer I’ve ever spun.

The actual answer punched me in the face only a few days later, sitting in a meeting for a website design project I had taken on. We were discussing potential colour schemes for the site, which were created using fundamental principles of colour theory that research showed would have resonated with our target market. The violent blow came by way of the following four words:

“I don’t like that.”

I sat and pondered this. We had all the statistical logic in the world but, nonetheless, someone had the intestinal fortitude to suggest we scrap the front-running colour scheme because of a personal preference.

Have you ever said, “I don’t like that,” when considering a creative marketing idea? It may be one of the worst mistakes you’ve ever made.

Every marketing professional, graphic designer, or smart creative1 has faced these dreaded words at some point during their career, often uttered by a colleague or client who believes they know better. The reality is that “I don’t like that” is more likely to hurt an idea, even if the idea itself is garbage, or the person is ultimately right.

“Why?” you may ask. Great question!

The reality is that every single marketing conversation you have should be rooted in what the customer wants, rather than any individual or group involved in the decision-making process.

Commenting that you don’t like an idea opens the floodgates for more personal feedback. Others involved in the conversation will feel more inclined to share their personal thoughts, and the project can spiral out of control. Soon, a decision will be reached after personal debating has run amok, and the most important person will be left out in the cold: the customer.

Consider how the nature of the conversation would have changed if my opinionated client, instead of saying “I don’t like that,” had said:

“I don’t think the customer would like that because…”

Now we’re getting somewhere! The conversation is now where it needs to be!

So how to you save a conversation from going down the wrong path? Easy! Follow these three steps and you will immediately make every marketing decision you make better:

1. Who cares?

To that naysayer who knows better, say,
“Let’s think about what the customer wants and expects from your brand. Do you think they would agree?”
It doesn’t matter what you like; what matters is the customer, plain and simple. Asking if the customer would agree immediately changes the dynamic of the conversation.

2. Prove it.

Perhaps that naysayer still insists they know better. Well, now is the time to back it up. Ask:
“What information is this based on?”
If they answer is “we know what the customer wants,” re-ask the question. It is never enough to just know the answer – in today’s world of ever-present data and analytics, there is no decision that should be made without data, or at least a plan to quantify decisions later (perhaps A-B testing). Search out data.

3. Keep an open mind.

Yes, I’m talking to you, my friend. It can be easy to think you are right, but perhaps your client or boss does in fact know what they’re talking about, and have the data to back it up. Know how to…
Admit defeat if it makes sense for the customer.
If you can’t keep an open mind to what the facts are telling you, you shouldn’t be making the decision.

In my little colour scheme dilemma, I immediately looked at the data that was presented and asked the team what the customer would want. The dialogue immediately shifted, and we re-examined the information provided by credible third parties. We made very minor changes to the colour scheme, and all left the conversation believing the right outcome was reached for the customer.

Ultimately, there is only one outcome that matters, and it isn’t who was right or who was wrong. What matters is how the dialogue will change by asking what the customer wants, rather than for opinions of an individual decision maker.

After all, haven’t we all been taught that the customer is always right?

About the Author

Joshua Cook
Chief Branding Navigator

Josh is a passionate marketer, founder of Creative Compass, and general caffeine addict. Building on 13 years of experience working with brands like Toyota, Samsung, and The Macallan scotch, Josh aims to provide entrepreneurs with marketing materials to help them build their own something amazing.

Looking for help with marketing fundamentals? Shoot Josh an email!

About the Author

Joshua Cook
Chief Branding Navigator

Josh is a passionate marketer, founder of Creative Compass, and general caffeine addict. Building on 13 years of experience working with brands like Toyota, Samsung, and The Macallan scotch, Josh aims to provide entrepreneurs with marketing materials to help them build their own something amazing.

Looking for help with marketing fundamentals? Shoot Josh an email!

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