You can find out if someone
died in your house, or one you’re considering buying, by going
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
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.
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’
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
If you’re involved in selecting marketing for a
business, remember that you always choose marketing just like
you choose employees – based on performance.
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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