Published by Derek Pillie
Psychologically, we tend to reward loud people and people who are confident whether they have a strong record of having their facts right or not. If you watched Saturday Night Live over the weekend, you no doubt saw the skit where a police officer played by host Edward Norton experienced this frustrationwhen trying to educate students on the importance of proper safety precautions during Halloween.
Norton’s frustration with the class finally reaches a breaking point when he says, “Challon is clearly misinformed but she sounds very confident and that may be throwing some of the rest of you off.” The student then rallies her classmates around her point of view, that they should do everything they can to get the candy, and, as a result, the officer leaves in frustration.
Let’s face it, to some degree slick ad campaigns with “loud voices” have an impact. All to oftenin our industry we see really solid marketing tools neglected in favor of a more popular or trendy tool that is less effective. As a result, less savvy marketers keep pushing that style of advertising, because this is what they’ve been doing for years and consumers give them no reason to change.
So how are we to figure out which marketing pitch we should pay attention to? I described a similar challenge in a past post aboutfiguring out which visionaries are actually looking out for our best interest and not just trying to come up with the latest and greatest fad.
To some degree we can only act upon what we already know about an offer or a personality. It’s inevitable that we’re going to get burned sometimes, make no mistake. What may have looked like the perfect answer to our problems will often just create more of them.
Moving forward we need to use our common sense. Beyond that here are a few tips to follow:
- Validate Results – If someone says their marketing tools are able to produce a result for someone, follow up on their claim and see if they’re able to back it up. You’d be surprised by the number of people who get hired without a reference check and how many times those who do reference checks don’t get the information they need. (Jay Goltz wrote an excellent blog lamenting the lost art of reference checkingfor theNew York Times last year.)
- Kick the Tires – Don’t just buy into the hype,insist on seeing a demonstration or a model of what someone is asking you to purchase. If they can’t show you how it works now, how do you expect that it’s going to work for you?
- Know the Territory – Ask the vendors who they compete with in the marketplace. If they don’t know their competition they’re either lying or they don’t have a good understanding of their market. While two products may not be directly comparable, every business has competitors. Make a particularly “noisy” one explain how it’s different from the rest.
In the end, you’re always going to have loud, persistent or overly confident people selling you on points that just aren’t true. Going back to Saturday Night Live’s Halloween reference: if you use your gut and follow these tips, you’ll more likely find the houses giving out the good candy and not get duped into a van with a creepy stranger.
Let us know about your experience with the “good houses” or the “creepy strangers.” What other tips do you think people should follow?