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Thursday, 7 June 2012

“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.
  1. Ignore the lessons of the past.  Why do people assume they didn’t know as much 100 years ago? Education was certainly more demanding.
  2. Think you can pick it up as you go along. Marketing is infested with amateurs. Hardly anyone studies enough. Crazy.
  3. Try to be “creative”. It is almost certainly fatal to assume that what you think is wonderful will sell. You are not your customer.
  4. Have too many meetings. They are almost all a waste of time, there for idle people to fill up their time.
  5. Not try being a customer. As Jack Welch remarked, most people have their heads facing the chairman and their asses facing the customers.
  6. Hire a Marketing Director without looking at his past record. This is why so many are duds.
  7. 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.
  8. Believe human nature is altered by media or changing times. Human nature has not changed since men started walking upright.
  9. Assume business decisions are made logically. They're not. People are rules by their emotions, in every area of life.
  10. Get up your own arse over brand guidelines. This is especially true of typefaces which are rarely suited for letter, to take one example.
  11. Talk like a marketing person. You will bore and confuse everybody, including yourself.
  12. Try to make it perfect. You have to do it as well as you can in the time available, then let go.
  13. Believe anyone who says they can make you rich. They are almost all liars - especially on the internet.
  14. Assume your prospect is intelligent. Very few are; and even they are not thinking when exposed to marketing messages.
  15. Assume your prospect is stupid. They may not be brilliant, but they are not halfwits either, and resent being patronised.
  16. Read about nothing but marketing. It is a very dull, narrow subject and will limit your imagination.
  17. Fail to test. Perhaps the biggest and most common mistake around. Nobody has any idea what will work. Why guess when you can know?
  18. Imagine everything will be OK. Assume something will go wrong; it usually does. 
  19. 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.
  20. Assume anything is always, or never the case. There are exceptions to all rules; circumstances alter cases, as the legal maxim goes.
  21. 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:


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