Do more of what works, less of what doesn’t. Today while marketing attribution of exactly knowing where success is being found is better than ever (but still not perfect), evidence-based decisions offer the most consistent path to marketing success.
I have the pleasure of talking to many entrepreneurs who all became entrepreneurs because they had passion for an idea or cause. It’s one of the most interesting things I get to do on a regular basis. Often entrepreneurs are doing many things in order to get their venture to the next level and marketing is considered a necessary or unnecessary endeavor depending on the business and individual.
A typical conversation might go something like “So we came up with this great idea to create X which will revolutionize industry Y. People love it and are buying it already. But we are having trouble scaling and getting the word out to enough people. We don’t know a great deal about marketing so that’s why we’re talking with you. The budget is limited but if marketing success can be proved there will definitely be more money to invest in marketing. How might you approach helping us”
Our answer as marketing consultants that execute plans is always the same. We will deeply research the category (if we are not familiar), make certain the ‘house’s’ brand is built on a solid foundation with an excellent user experience whether online or at retail, and emerge with a plan that enables us to test hypotheses, measure effectiveness and make changes based on what’s working and what is not working.
It’s always important to keep in mind built-in bias (even on my own part) which can negatively impact what and how ideas should be tested. Sometimes taking the outlier strategy is the best path, yet there are other times it’s critical to be compared to others in the category. When considering how to most quickly get evidence that will enable more refined testing, I often consider whether I myself am employing System 1 or System 2 (System 1 and System 2 are two distinct modes of decision making: System 1 is an automatic, fast and often unconscious way of thinking. … System 2 is an effortful, slow and controlled way of thinking) as depicted in his excellent book Thinking Fast and Slow by behavioral economist Daniel Khanamen. Keeping our own biases under control is a critical aspect of idea development.
It’s also important to remember that evidenced-based marketing decisions do not eliminate the need for creativity. Understanding the behaviors of people in the context of why they might be interested in your product or service and how to convey the value allows the creative approach to have a much better chance for success. There are times when a great creative approach can prompt people to try a product. Of course if the product does not live up to customer expectations there will not be an opportunity for lasting success. I had a business partner once tell me “You can’t polish a turd.” Too true.
I don’t want to leave out that when I talk with businesses and don’t end up feeling that there’s a high likelihood of success given their product and its potential in the competitive landscape, I either try to help find a path to a higher likelihood of success before marketing or pass on the opportunity altogether. See my comment in the above paragraph.
Of course you could just wing it. Good luck either way.