Why Is Hearsay Marketing Admissible in Your Business?


This has been on my mind for years. Working with small businesses, many of whom found me through this blog, I realized how screwed they were. They would throw money away on things that did not really matter: things that promised quick lead generation fixes, things that were “urgent” on sale that will “never” happen again, things from “gurus” promising results with obligatory disclaimer “your results may vary”, things that were new and shiny that you just got to have, things that a competitor's website had, things you would see on another website and like, things that were too good to be true yet priced low enough to get you to buy it.

Sounds familiar? It should. Unless you've been running a business under a rock, you've dealt with at least one of those things. And, of course, successfully wasting money.

This video, I recorded for the Lean Marketing blog (includes transcript), answers specifically how you're wasting money (on the above) and how to begin putting your money to a good, “ROIable” use (making up words as we go :).

The simple truth is (honestly, it's simple), you're not making decisions driven by your marketing. I call it hearsay marketing.

Hearsay is inadmissible in court. Why is it admissible in your business?

Let me clarify what I mean, and I'm using hearsay broadly in this context.

Jim is a business owner and has a WordPress website for his plumbing business. Jim wants more leads. He goes on to his competitor's website to see what they're doing. He sees they have a blog and social media sharing icons. Jim's blog does not have social media sharing icons. Jim has to have it now since his competitor has it. So he spends $200 on a developer to add social media sharing buttons. A month goes by, no leads or shares. Few months go by, no leads or shares. But the competitor had those buttons? What gives?

Hearsay marketing gives, that's what. Jim did not let his marketing help him make a decision, he saw and he copied. He didn't consider that he should be blogging to have something to share, he didn't consider that his blog needs to be optimized for social media sharing (Open Graph), he didn't consider anything other than “they have it.”

Any marketing advice you get (including this) should be taken with a grain of salt. It should never be blindly copied just because “they did it” or “they have it” or “he/she said it”.

“They” do not know your marketing and business objectives. “They” do not know how much money you have to spend on your marketing. “They” do not know anything about your business.

Hearsay marketing is an out-of-business and impulsive decision making based on what you saw, heard, and read disguised as data-driven and objective-driven marketing your business needs.

I really like the word “out-of-business”, which follows legal “out-of-court” usage. Out-of-business means that you're applying general marketing advice without regard for your business (your specific situation). Wanting more leads and sales does not qualify as marketing and/or business objectives. That's a given, you're a business.

There's a reason palm trees do not grow in Canada. Just because you got a palm tree, does not mean it will grow in your backyard in Montreal. That's why I think all marketing advice should have a disclaimer: “Your results WILL vary, don't blame online marketing for being ineffective.”

Tying this back to the video. Don't make changes to your website because you saw something “nice” or some marketing consultant said you should do it. Make changes to your website because they will help you reach your business and marketing objectives, and are catered to YOUR business.

Remember, just because you're hungry and the food looks delicious – does not mean you should eat it. It may have something you're allergic to or worst case poison. You wouldn't eat a burger offered by a stranger on street, why would you eat up marketing advice from a stranger without thinking how it may affect your business?

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Viktor Nagornyy

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