At dinner last night, my new client, a well established and successful entrepreneur with whom I have been coaching “the culture of change” while being charged with developing his “marketing voice” (my words, not his) said to me, “you know Fred, this marketing stuff is really about expert opinions isn’t it?”
Pausing he took a quick sip of his martini and said, “lots of companies come to me and promise me results and I get references and, well you know, the whole nine yards, so I go to it and usually get very little results.”
“This has happened numerous times and they all have some reason why it didn’t work. Usually they pointed to my employees as the reason the program failed. What the heck am I doing wrong?”
To that, I asked one salient question which got him to snap his head around, “Bill”, I said, “did you share any customer research with them or did they even ask for it or rather did they just go into their viral Internet world and start producing key words, viral commercials, Facebook posts, etc?”
Bang! His head snapped around and he said, “Jeez, no-one ever asked or should I say even asked about that, and, for that matter, I gave them all the information they needed because I have been so close to the business and pretty much know it cold!”
“Bill, I don’t doubt that you know the business,” I said, “but show me the facts, please.”
Like many other successful entrepreneurs, he has been doing it on gut feel and when the stars and the economy were favorable, he mostly got it right but he really didn’t have any facts, especially facts to deal with his business in this inconsistent economic never-land.
Oh, he could tell me who were his key customers and what they spent, as well as what the smaller customers spent in an average year. But he really did not have answers about those leads that NEVER turned into sales or why these smaller customers were buying from him less frequently.
He waved off this question with answers such as “‘too expensive”, “bad timing” and “economic factors” as the reasons why leads did not become sales.
So before you “think” that the reasons your open play is down is a result of the economy, unemployment, too many stay at home video games, Netflix, etc”, then ask yourself, why are Starbucks sales up when they are selling $5 cups of coffee in this economy?
People don’t need $5 coffee. It’s an easy thing to cut out, but they don’t.
“It’s time”, I said to Bill, “to get to the facts; either to validate or negate opinions, assumptions, stereotypes or long held beliefs which MAY still be valid and to test new ideas, assumptions, and thoughts. He smiled, shook my hand and said “let’s do it.”
As Sergeant Friday said, “Just the facts, Ma’am. Just the facts.”
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