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Would You Refuse to Hire Someone Because She Isn’t Blonde?


by Glenn Shepard
November 14, 2017
Category: Marketing


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Picture this:

A 24-year-old guy who’s half drunk at a bar on Friday night, deciding who he’s going to hit on. His only criteria are “Must be blonde and hot”.

You might expect that from someone at his level. You’d expect more from a business person, but you’d be amazed at how many make their hiring decisions the same way.

Not when hiring an employee, but when choosing the marketing that will ultimately support their employees and their families.

My company spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on direct response marketing every year, and we’re ALWAYS running A-B splits. These splits (testing a new variable against an existing one) are what Google’s PPC (Pay Per Click) is built on.

This is such a big deal that it made Google over $85,000,000,000 last year.

The decision on how businesses spent that 85 billion dollars was based on how well ads WORK, not on how they LOOK.

It sounds obvious, but people who know nothing about marketing will look at an ad and say, “I’d never respond to that”. When marketing experts hear this, they know they’re dealing with someone who’s completely ignorant about marketing.

Assuming an ad won’t perform based on how it LOOKS is as ridiculous as refusing to look at a job applicant’s resume because you don’t like their hair color. Just as you judge whether a job applicant is worth interviewing by looking at their past performance, you also judge marketing based on its past performance.

Anyone who makes business decisions that can result in thousands (or millions) of dollars of new revenue (or losses) using the same criteria the drunk kid in the bar uses should not be making business decisions.

As any marketing professional knows, the response to “I’d never respond to that” is “You are not your customer”.

You can’t possibly guess what your customers will or won’t buy, because it’s impossible for you to be objective.  Legendary guitarist Joe Walsh never imagined using a guitar riff he warmed his fingers up with in an actual song. But Glenn Frey did, and it became “Life in the Fast Lane”, one of the Eagles’ biggest hits.

The same thing happened to Kerry Livgren, the guitarist for Kansas. He was struggling to write a follow-up to their mega hit "Carry On Wayward Son". His wife heard a guitar riff he warmed his fingers up with and suggested turning it into a song. He said, "I didn't think it was a Kansas type song". She responded, “Give it a try anyway”. The song was “Dust in the Wind”. Kerry later said, “Several million records later, I guess she was right."

Even the biggest companies fail miserably when they think they can predict what consumers will and won’t respond to.

Things companies said people "will not buy" include electricity, automobiles, TVs, telephones, personal computers, and cell phones.

Meanwhile, inventions that were supposed to change our lives - like Segways and Olestra - never took off.

If you’re involved in selecting marketing for a business, remember that you always choose marketing just like you choose employees – based on performance.

To Your Success,

Glenn Shepard

 My favorite example is a young writer who threw away his first manuscript after it was turned down by 30 publishers. His wife got it out of the trash can, and convinced him to try once more. His name is Stephen King. The book, which was made into a movie, was “Carrie”. It gives new meaning to “You can’t judge a book by the cover”.


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