“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry our their dream.” – Les Brown, Motivational Speaker
We have a saying at Fountain; ‘don’t be your own gatekeeper’. Too often in marketing I see new ideas are shot down before being tested. Whether it’s in meetings, or even part of an internal dialog, we dismiss things without taking them to market.
When it comes to discussing marketing ideas, people generally seem very confident in their forecasts. As a thought experiment, I often wonder if you asked them to put money on that outcome, would they still be so sure of themselves? They probably wouldn’t. I think the confidence in their predictions comes from the fact they are unlikely to be caught out – rather than their marketing knowledge.
Here’s the thing: the only way to know for sure if an idea will work is to take it to market.
I’ve sat though meetings where people have wasted time and resources arguing about what will work and what won’t. It’s much better to have systems in place to test out a high volume of marketing strategies, quickly and cheaply. Time spent trying to forecast is wasted.
My favorite story to illustrate this point is about Bill Clinton’s election campaign in 1992. He was taking on sitting President George H. Bush who, in 1991, had an approval rating of over 90%. Six months before the election the Clinton campaign were far behind in the polls. It looked hopeless for Bill.
His campaign team held an emergency meeting. Accusations started flying and people began to argue about what the marketing and comms strategy should be. Clinton banged his fist on the desk, and called them all to silence. He said from now on they would meet at 7am every morning to discuss campaign ideas. Any idea that had not been vetoed by over 75% the group by 8am would be tested. They tried a lot of creative ideas that would have normally been shot down. They were amazed at what worked and what did not.
They found that, by testing, the market was right, and they were wrong.