I am an avid reader with a particular love of history. Currently, I am reading a series of books about the US involvement in Iraq, starting with the 1991 Desert Storm operation and continuing into the last few years.
What jumps out at me in terms of leadership is the failure to challenge basic assumptions about the nature of the conflict, the other side, our allies, and the future.
Without digging into the particulars of history, it seems there are two key lessons for current leaders about questioning their marketing assumptions.
Be aware of your assumptions.
If you do not have proof, then your idea is an assumption.
This is the most critical point to understand and act upon in terms of your thinking. Being able to differentiate between what you think and what you can prove is a powerful tool.
For example, I recentlywrote an article about trade shows, and a number of people said that they do not do trade shows, while others said they did them and were doing great.
What I did not hear much of is the proof that trade shows work or not.
Trade shows are not good or bad they just are. Measuring your ROI gives you proof of whether they are good or bad. Most of the comments were really opinions based on assumptions.
Other areas I commonly hear clients mash-up proof for assumptions are:
Lead quality - sales often say website leads are bad, and marketing says they are good; which is it?
Customers want x - is this what one customer said, or has deep market research been done? I see this one a lot with smaller companies.
No one searches for our products online or on social media - I still believe many leaders in traditional markets undervalue the opportunities online.
We need this or that tool or app - Can you prove that the technology actually makes the customer experience better? If not, scrap the tech. Never fall in love with tech, for tech's sake.
Everyone wants to grow, but very few companies want to change how they do things, and very few leaders want to challenge their assumptions.
What are some of the assumptions you see in your marketing?
Change Your Mindset
Talking to people outside of your bubble is a critical step to challenging your assumptions. Belonging to a peer group is a great way to get fresh perspectives on your marketing and your assumptions.
Marketing coaches also help perform this role.
Shameless plug - I do this type of coaching with a number of clients with tremendous results.Contact meanytime to see if I can help.
There are three key features to the mindset you need to succeed with marketing today:
The customer comes first in everything you do
Customer experience is the key differentiator
Everyone internally has a part to play and has to be on board
If you assume that marketing is only the marketing department, then you are making a huge mistake. Marketing is everything your company does that impacts the customer.
That means everyone has a role in marketing. No exceptions.
Test your thinking against the three features above and see where your assumptions deviate.