We build businesses. Even little ones.

We build businesses.
Even little ones.

Are Other People’s Opinions Losing You Sales?

A few weeks ago in The Letter we talked about opinions, and how Dave’s and mine rarely match.

Speaking of opinions…

Jack and I were in the car over the weekend, discussing Hay Day, one of his latest video game obsessions.

(Jack is my youngest son. He’s six.)

There’s a new feature they put in place.

He isn’t a fan.

He’s in the back seat, going on and on and on about this thing that they did, and how they should have done it better, and how people aren’t going to like it and how… I don’t know… it was really bad. Or something.

After a five minute diatribe on more effective strategies for maximizing revenue and retention with younger demographics, he stops for breath and prepares for his closing remarks.

“It’s really stupid.”

[long pause]

“…in my opinion.”

I like children. I do.

I’m particularly partial to my own children, although I also like other people’s children when they’re sleeping or in photographs.

One of the things I do not like about children is their propensity to take their opinion and turn it into fact.

This makes me… peevish. I have Libra in my chart. I don’t like it.

Interestingly, this is a trait that is also very common in marketing professionals.

Walk into any marketing meeting in any company anywhere in the world and I promise you, you’re going to see a guy named Brad defending his perspective (or attacking yours) as if he’s on a mission from God.

“I know we’re a regional logistics company but IF WE DO NOT GET ON PINTEREST OUR ENTIRE VILLAGE WILL DIE IN A FIRE AND THEN THERE WILL BE VIKING RAIDS AND THEY’LL PROBABLY TAKE OUR SMARTPHONES AWAY, TOO!!!”

Am I wrong?

Introducing… The Only Hope!

As I am in the business of selling business and marketing training, I make it my business to see what my fellow sellers of business and marketing training are up to.

This industry has never really been known for its stellar ethics, so it’s not like the whole thing has recently gone to hell.

Marketing training went to hell sometime around the invention of the printing press.

But one of the things that really concerns me – it concerns me now like it concerned my father in the seventies and my grandfather in the fifties – is the phenomenon known as The Only Hope.

(That’s an actual term, by the way. It’s a positioning strategy. “How do you want to approach the campaign for this?” “I don’t know. It’s a total dog and nobody’s going to buy it.” “Damn. You’re right. Wanna go with The Only Hope?”)

There was a time when it was commonly decided that if you didn’t start advertising in the paper, you were done. D-O-N-E done. It was your Only Hope.

There was a time when it was commonly decided that if you didn’t start advertising on the radio, you were done. D-O-N-E done. It was your Only Hope.

There was a time when it was commonly decided that if you didn’t start advertising on television, you were done. D-O-N-E done. It was your Only Hope.

It’s amazing anybody stays in business at all, when you think about it.

When I was starting IttyBiz, it was all about blogs. If your blog wasn’t on track for the Technorati Top 1000, you may as well just quit and go home.

Then it was video. If you weren’t making videos, well, the game was pretty much over, wasn’t it?

Then the social media brigades started coming. The “digerati”, they called them. Or was it the Twitterati? If somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty billion people weren’t following you or friending you or fanning you or stalking you or snuggling you or caressing you or… well, it’s D-O-N-E all over again, isn’t it?

“Things are changing,” say the Brads. “They’re changing fast and if we don’t get in on [this very specific wave], we’re going to be dinosaurs. A ****ing laughing stock.”

They’re half right. We can give them that.

Things are changing, and they are changing fast.

The ability to adapt to new environments is critical.

But the ability to adapt to new environments was always critical.

Remember when you went to kindergarten?

Remember how it was different from staying home with your mom all day?

That’s a new environment.

New jobs are new environments. New cities are new environments. New PTA meetings are new environments.

You’ve adapted before.

You’re clearly capable of it.

You seem to have done quite well for yourself, actually.

You managed to scare up a computer.

(Maybe even a smartphone.)

There are plenty of ways to market.

At it’s root, marketing is getting in front of people and offering them something to buy.

A newspaper ad, a radio ad, a television ad – they all do the same thing, just in a new place. They’re not magic.

People didn’t stop reading the paper when the radio came out, they didn’t stop listening to the radio when the television came out, and they haven’t stopped watching TV now that the internet exists.

When people tell you that everybody has moved over to a new medium, or a new strategy, or a new tactic, they are trying to do one of two things:

1. They’re trying to look cool, or
2. They’re trying to terrify you into buying something.

It is their opinion. And statistically, given the predictive capacity of the average human, they are almost definitely wrong.

If you would like some measure of proof of what I’m saying – it is just my opinion after all – do a little exercise for me.

Think of something that’s being marketed to you as The Only Hope.

Now go out and see how fast you can come up with 100 companies that are flourishing without it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Now, please don’t get me wrong.

There is nothing objectively bad about Pinterest (or Vine, or video sales pages, or whatever), just as there is nothing objectively vital about it.

If you dig Pinterest? Pin it up, baby! Go take virtual pins and virtually stab virtual pieces of paper and share them with your virtual friends.

Know that you go with my full blessing and support. We have clients who are making a killing over there with no help from us. Fantastic.

But if you do NOT dig the new thing…

If you do NOT think you’d be good at the new thing…

If you do NOT think the new thing would be the right choice for your business…

Then don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by the opinions of people trying to look hip or scare you.