Why is it that when it comes to marketing, everyone seems to have an opinion? Colleagues, friends, staff, the plant lady, the guy cleaning up...everyone gets a vote. Worse, the people writing the checks often listen to whoever the last person was who offered them advice.
For example, an intelligent individual came to me recently with an idea he heard about marketing. This person had attended our marketing seminar and understood the business fundamentals. But this idea was strange and unsupported at best.
I had to ask, “Where did you come up with that one?” It turns out that this left-field advice originated with someone they had just met on an airplane. (A stranger on a plane!)
Suffice to say, it was a bad idea…more like a hearsay guess presented as fact. But there was no evidence, no authority, and no proof. Yet a stranger was willing to risk someone else’s money on this unsupported notion.
This would be the same as a medical doctor trying every newfangled, heard-in-the-halls idea without the benefit of tests, reports, or any evidence at all. With steam about to leak from my ears, I would ask: “Show me the evidence.” “What journal published this?” “Where was this tested and tracked?” Anyone can offer an opinion, but don’t take advice without validation or proof.
Tom Nichols, author of the business book, The Death of Expertise, asks: “How is it that people not only doubt expert advice, but believe themselves to be as smart, or even smarter, than experienced professionals?
“The smartphones and tablets that we carry around all day that we think can answer anything are only part of the problem,” he writes. “And even if we manage to avoid the intellectual saboteurs of the Internet, we’re still all too likely to get our news and views from social media, where a silly meme from your aunt Rose in Schenectady competes for your attention with actual information.”
So the lesson here is that a marketing idea or opinion needs validation and experience. Be suspect of ideas that originate—without evidence—from well-meaning people with zero expertise. Instead, look for new ideas that:
It turns out that anyone next to you on the plane isn’t a marketing expert after all. Just wish them a safe journey. Only rock solid marketing concepts—the ideas that pass substantial reality checks and come to you from an experienced authority—deserve your hard-earned marketing budget.