Beat the Assumptions that Kill Your Company’s Marketing

You want more clients, but one reason you don’t have them is that you’re held back by assumptions about human behavior. These assumptions generalize your experience as definitive, which robs you of access to the portion of audience you don’t currently engage. To the degree we operate on assumptions about prospect behavior, we are in the blind position of excess arrogance. Assumptions kill marketing for a business, and we need ways to throw off those assumptions.

Your Missing Clients are in The Unknowing Space

The most prolific opportunity for your business to grow is the unknowing space – the space where your current assumptions don’t apply. People will never behave entirely as we assume, because people are not automatons. The fundamental problem with deciding how your potential clients behave, and therefore what works or doesn’t work in marketing, is that it only applies to the clients you already get, not the ones you don’t know about.

We hear, for example: “I think our business model is foot traffic from passersby in the neighborhood – that’s what we get. Do you really think a neighborhood business, like a local laundry, should do marketing and advertise?” Yes, that’s the audience you know about. It’s also the audience you’re comfortable with, and marketing to the audience you don’t know about will be uncomfortable at first, which is the real reason you’re resisting it. Throw off the assumption that what you know is more powerful than what you don’t.

If You’re Mimicking Your Competition, You’re Equally Blind to Opportunity

We also hear: “I don’t see any of my competition marketing (or marketing this way).” Right – they’re operating on the same assumptions you’ve been using. Confound the assumptions of your competition, and get the audience segment neither of you currently gets. Besides, they’re behind the times. Let your competition play catch up. If you’re waiting for them to make the first move, you should be ashamed of yourself – you’ve become second tier – demoralized and demotivated – and this is the thing you’re doing with your life! Even if they have a few more clients than you, it doesn’t mean your competition is wiser – there are other factors. Throw off the assumption that your competition knows best, or you’ll never catch up to them.

You Don’t Get a Pass – Running a Business involves You in the Marketing

To that point, we hear: “I just want to do my work – I don’t want to mess with that marketing stuff.” Great, then appoint someone to run your business, and go to work for them like an employee. Tough talk, but why do we say it like that? To underline the biggest change in marketing since the 1950s – it’s that marketing is now a core function of every business. It is absolutely the responsibility of the business owner to be mentally involved and intrinsically a part of the marketing. You are the thought leader and fundamental inspiration for your business. If it’s just a clone company – a commoditized outlet with nothing to market, that’s an internal moral failure at the leadership level. And if you’re comfortable with that, then why are you looking for more clients? Accept the mediocrity and its results. The boom markets where you could just hang out a shingle, have a web site, and run a simple ad, are dead – this will be a lean era for companies that don’t build a real marketing footprint. Throw off the assumption that you can ignore or 100% outsource your marketing – at some level, you are essential.

Take Adventurous Risks With Your Marketing Plan

You won’t get your marketing right on the first or even the second run. Focus on building your repertoire and reach. Step outside the box of your assumptions. Reach for the segment of clientele you don’t currently engage. It’ll be harder, but that’s why you’ll win it and your competition won’t. Experimentation is an adventure. If all you do is complain about not having enough clients, you’ll never do the risky thing that pays off. You’ll be safe, and the pessimism will be a self-fulfilling prophesy. Be willing to trade comfort and familiarity for the exhilarating and new. To take liberties with the common Wayne Gretsky quotation: “You miss 100% of the clients you don’t take risks for.” Throw off the assumption that marketing success is all a secret formula.

Commit Almost Blindly to Your Marketing Campaigns

Don’t dabble – a little of this, a little of that, for a short time. That will produce no results. Pick 3-4 marketing initiatives that are well planned and strategic that you do consistently and continually over time as part of your normal business, aside from any short term campaigns you run. And, counterintuitively, *don’t* focus on when or if they’ll “work”. That’ll just drive you to frenetic jumping around, so nothing works. Commitment over time is the core marketing commodity. Throw off the assumption that people are standing by waiting for one or two blog posts, as if it were e-mail; instead, commit to building first your audience, then your interactions and, as a result – your leads.

Scientifically Test Your Marketing Assumptions

If you’re running an ad + landing page pair, for instance, don’t oversimplify with “it works” or “it doesn’t work”. There are more factors than that. Is the video right? Is the form right? Is the call to action right? Is the ad copy right? Even a simple system has a lot of parts. If you get nothing, tweak one thing. If you get something, don’t freeze, tweak again, aiming for more. If it gets less, tweak again, etc – one optimization attempt at a time. This often takes the form of A/B testing – where you change one element and see if it gets better or worse, like when the eye doctor fits you for prescription lenses. Throw off the assumption that marketing results are binary – works/doesn’t; but beware – a statistic doesn’t always mean what it looks like at first glance – there are assumptions at work there, too.

Assumptions don’t have to kill your marketing. Admitting that our current perception of the world ONLY gets us what we’re already getting is critical. Our current perception of who our audience is, what they respond to, and therefore what’s effective will only bring us what we already have – it’s the ultimate excuse for not marketing at all, and the ultimate justification for why marketing efforts don’t work. It’s fair to say the very basis of marketing at all is stepping into the new and unknown, and rejecting what we have assumed. If we, as business owners don’t do it, no one in our chain of command will be able to do it for us. We are the watermark for our company, and we pass on the core framework of our assumptions to everyone we involve.

If you want to involve someone who thinks strategically, and isn’t swayed by set thinking or discouragement, feel free to contact MadPipe to build a marketing dream team around your business goals.

Daniel DiGriz

Daniel DiGriz is a corporate storyteller and Digital Ecologist® at MadPipe, which provides creative direction, marketing leadership in marketing, and campaign direction for firms that want a stronger connection with their audience. A Digital Ecologist® applies strategic principles from both natural and digital ecologies to help organizations thrive across multiple ecosystems. Daniel hosts podcasts, speaks at conferences, and his ideas have appeared in Inc, SmartBlog, MediaPost, Forbes, and Success Magazine.
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