“I wouldn’t do that if I were you” - 21 simple, stupid and amazingly popular ways to screw up your business
Do you do any public speaking? It's a nightmare, and it doesn't get that much better with practice, but I rarely refuse.
About six weeks ago I was asked to do a talk for the Royal Mail.
The money was nothing special, but the chap who asked me was an old Ogilvy colleague, and I thought, why not? And they agreed to do a video of the whole thing.
Then they moved the date forward and panic ensued - on my part anyhow. They whacked out a couple of emails and 150 or so creative people said they would come. I think this was largely because it was free, to be honest.
Most people tell you what to do, but I suspect that telling people what not to do may be more help. So I made a list of 20 dumb things I see a lot.
More panic. That wasn't nearly enough to fill the time. In the end I managed 149. My partner Marta said, "Why so many? Ninety nine would have been enough."
"The number just popped into my head," I said. Idiot.
Anyhow, here are the first 21 that came to me.
- Ignore the lessons of the past. Why do people assume they didn’t know as much 100 years ago? Education was certainly more demanding.
- Think you can pick it up as you go along. Marketing is infested with amateurs. Hardly anyone studies enough. Crazy.
- Try to be “creative”. It is almost certainly fatal to assume that what you think is wonderful will sell. You are not your customer.
- Have too many meetings. They are almost all a waste of time, there for idle people to fill up their time.
- Not try being a customer. As Jack Welch remarked, most people have their heads facing the chairman and their asses facing the customers.
- Hire a Marketing Director without looking at his past record. This is why so many are duds.
- Fall for the latest fad. Marketers are suckers for the silver bullet. CRM, SEO, PPC, SMS, Social media - they always think some new thing will substitute for the need to think.
- Believe human nature is altered by media or changing times. Human nature has not changed since men started walking upright.
- Assume business decisions are made logically. They're not. People are rules by their emotions, in every area of life.
- Get up your own arse over brand guidelines. This is especially true of typefaces which are rarely suited for letter, to take one example.
- Talk like a marketing person. You will bore and confuse everybody, including yourself.
- Try to make it perfect. You have to do it as well as you can in the time available, then let go.
- Believe anyone who says they can make you rich. They are almost all liars - especially on the internet.
- Assume your prospect is intelligent. Very few are; and even they are not thinking when exposed to marketing messages.
- Assume your prospect is stupid. They may not be brilliant, but they are not halfwits either, and resent being patronised.
- Read about nothing but marketing. It is a very dull, narrow subject and will limit your imagination.
- Fail to test. Perhaps the biggest and most common mistake around. Nobody has any idea what will work. Why guess when you can know?
- Imagine everything will be OK. Assume something will go wrong; it usually does.
- Spend more energy imagination and money on prospects than customers. Madness. Your best source of profit is the customer you've got, not the one you want.
- Assume anything is always, or never the case. There are exceptions to all rules; circumstances alter cases, as the legal maxim goes.
- Fail to invest in your staff. They are the only ones who can make it happen for you. Train them. Be nice to them.
Well, there you are. I managed 149 in about 90 minutes. Here's a clip from the video. My faithful right hand, the radiant Chloe says it is very funny. You decide: