Are you good at making decisions? Do you tend to make the right decisions, in your personal and professional lives? Do you like making choices?
I have been thinking about this subject, following a series of conversations with The Marketing Compass member and decision making speaker David Knowles-Leak.
We all have to make decisions, every day of our lives. Most decisions are minor in nature (which shirt shall I wear?) whilst some decisions are of crucial importance (shall I propose?)
When I am selling, I sometimes wonder why it can take so long for people to get back to me. I have come to the conclusion that many people like to reflect on a decision, before they take it (or avoid doing so). Or perhaps they are inundated with more pressing matters?
When it comes to marketing, there a host of decisions that need to be made. For example, are we product or customer centric? How much time and money should be devoted to marketing? Will everything be done in-house or will some of it be outsourced? How important is digital marketing? Will we use a push or a pull marketing strategy?
Personally, I tend to make decisions quickly. For example, when I am buying something, I know what I want. When I find it, why not cut to the chase and buy?
I make a lot of decisions and I always talk through the big ones (and many of the smaller ones as well) with my wife, Joanna. We often do this when we go out for a walk, which helps me to think clearly.
As far as I am aware, decision making is not taught as a separate subject in schools. Bearing in mind how important it is, perhaps it should be?
If you have been running your business for a while, from time to time you may get fed up with it. You may find yourself disengaging and even wishing that you were doing something else. Perhaps the answer is to act like a startup.
Do you remember when you first started your business? Scary, wasn’t it? Sheer adrenaline propelled you forward. You put in long hours and kept hammering away until you had a successful enterprise on your hands.
Business and indeed human nature does not work in straight lines. Success comes and goes. Sometimes everything is ‘up’ and sometimes everything is ‘down’. If you find yourself in the doldrums, what would happen if you worked like a startup does, for the month ahead?
For a start, you have to find your passion for your enterprise once again. You would put in longer working hours. You may find yourself wanting to talk to everyone about your business. You would generate new ideas and ways of looking at challenges.
The trouble with having a successful business is that you can stop taking risks. The business owner can find themselves buried in bureaucracy and paperwork. The fun of it all can drain away. Perhaps this is why so many entrepreneurs sell their businesses once they have reached a certain size, only to start all over again.
One idea is to schedule a creative thinking session for your team or hire a business creative thinking speaker in order to help you and your colleagues to think outside of the box.
Does integrity matter in marketing, or in business for that matter? Seeing this question from the customer’s perspective, they like to be treated well. If there is a problem, they want it resolved quickly. Companies can save money by cutting down on service levels, avoiding their responsibilities and controlling customer communications through the use of technology.
What effect does this have on their reputation? What happens when customers start to leave them in droves (a certain UK utility company comes to mind).
Integrity is part of a person’s character. The character of a company’s founder / owner is mirrored within their brand personality. Can you think of a famous person for whom this applies?
If you run a business or are responsible for marketing, take a moment and think about your values. What matters to you? What do you believe in? The answers to these questions will feed into your brand, website, social media campaigns, advertisements, printed matter and your entire promotional mix.
Before you begin a new campaign, write a Brief. This should include the campaign objectives, specific goals, the target market and the benefits of the product / service that you are marketing.
Then imagine what it would be like to be the customer that you are communicating with. How can your product / service help them? Do they know that they have problem that you can solve? What sort of benefits and proof are they looking for?
Perspective taking is different from empathy. It is the ability to see the world from someone else’s point of view.
Being able to write ‘with the customer in mind’ can make a considerable difference to the quality and effectiveness of your web pages, blogs, newsletters, videos and PPC advertisements.
Are you comfortable around software? Do you find it easy to learn? Would your business attract more customers if you could master the art of using marketing software?
Digital marketing has brought us new ways to communicate with customers. Every day, new apps, platforms and functionality are launched by software developers.
On the one hand, you want to promote your services / products. On the other hand, there is the continual requirement to learn new software, isn’t there? Having spent hours or days learning WordPress, SEO, Google AdWords, MailChimp etc you may not get the results that you are after. Some initiatives work, some don’t. The important thing is to keep learning.
For some people, fear of failure can stop progress, when it comes to software. It can all feel overwhelming at times, can’t it?
You can watch YouTube videos, read blogs, buy books or go on courses. Alternatively, you can outsource some or all of your requirements.
Personally, I invest two days of my time every month learning new software. This is challenging, as I am always busy.
How about you: what was the last piece of software that you spent time with? How was the experience for you?
It’s not what happens to you that counts, it’s how you handle what happens to you. Thomas J Watson Senior, the founder of IBM said that the formula to success is easy: simply double your rate of failure. Don’t fear failure: learn from it.
I wish you great success with your software journey.
By the way, if you would like some marketing software training, I may be able to help.
I have noticed that the word ‘confidence’ has come up in numerous conversations recently. For example, during one of my marketing workshops, a delegate told me that they wanted to be confident when it comes to using software, communicating with their marketplace and updating colleagues.
Where does confidence come from? The simple answer is ‘knowledge’. The challenge is the exponential rise in complexity of marketing arising from the digital age. In the last century, part of my training involved visiting the firm of printers that the marketing agency I was working for used regularly. I spent a day talking to professional printers who had spent years learning their craft. I did not want to become a printer, I wanted to gain a conceptual understanding of the process so that I could liaise between the client and the printer.
Today, many enterprises do most of their marketing themselves. They probably outsource the development of their website and some other tasks. However, once it is up and running, adding new content to their website such as images and routine tasks such as blogging are usually down to them. This means that they have to become adept at using a CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress and image manipulation software such as Adobe Photoshop. What is more, they have to become professional copywriters and get to grips with syntax, idiom, punctuation, grammar and the intricacies of webcopy layout and flow. This is before we contemplate the art and science of SEO.
No wonder that, at times, the person or persons responsible for marketing communications can feel a little daunted. The challenge does not exist in a vacuum. Our lives have become more complex in general terms. A digitised life and economy means that many people are constantly connected to the internet. Software applications, platforms, communities and tools keep changing, don’t they? New ones arrive on a daily basis.
The Apple iPhone was launched in 2007 and smartphone and tablet usage has skyrocketed in recent years. As I travel into London, for example, it is normal for everyone around me to be glued to a screen of some type. According to Wikipedia, amongst a UK population of 65,511,000 some 68.6% or 44,953,000 people now have a smartphone. Here is a Wikipedia list of smartphone penetration by country. Apparently, half the UK population now spends half an hour a day on Facebook. The stats roll on and on.
So what are the options for the hard pressed, busy marketer / business owner? They can attend workshops, read books, listen to podcasts and read marketing blogs. Alternatively, they can join a community such as The Marketing Compass or hire a marketing coach or marketing consultant if they would prefer 1-2-1 feedback.
Above all, no matter what is happening in our lives, we must keep learning.
A brand is a promise that you will deliver a service or product in the way that the customer expects it. This sounds simple enough, however, there are many things that can go wrong. An enterprise may have inadvertently oversold the features and benefits, hence the old phrase: “Undersell and over deliver.”
There may be hidden costs, i.e. delivery, maintenance or additional features. Before the customer buys, be as open and transparent as possible about the whole package that you are offering.
What if there is a problem, after the sale has been made? How easy do you make it to communicate with you? Is your telephone number clearly displayed on your website? Ideally, this should appear at the top of every page. Contact forms are fine and I understand why they are so popular. However, many people prefer to send an email.
The key issue is to decide what your promise is, in the first place. You may think that you know what it is. Your customers may have different ideas. It is a good idea to talk to customers and get their viewpoint on what your brand is all about. The challenge is that they don’t think about your brand as often as you do and they will probably come up with all sorts of conflicting points of view. It is still worth doing this, at least once a year.
Your brand values are the place to start. Do you have these written down? Does your team know what they are?
When was the last time that a company broke a promise to you? How did it make you feel? How often do they have to do this before you go somewhere else?