Instant quick-fix solutions: marketers dilemma
The idea of quick fix solutions and instant fixes in not new in professional service firms and in day-to-day business.
An interesting question that was recently asked was by an upcoming marketer who has to figure out how to deal with unrealistic expectations or ideas about how to achieve results within a certain time limit. For example, a new business is launched and the recently graduated marketer on board has been tasked with the most important task of hitting the sales target in the next three, four or in the next six months. Metrics are important but the question is in what context? Even in an ongoing business, that kind of unrealistic targets are dependent on a lot of other factors. Not saying, it's not achievable. How do marketers in professional firms get to understand the idea of success?
Established professional firms providing a service have to understand the context in terms of their target market, their industry trends, where the competition is, how their service fit into this world. From a marketer's viewpoint, it comes back to somewhat the training done at university or their understanding of what the role is. University is a great experience, if you take it as an experience, but it's an academic conceit built around a practical topic that is designed to test your mental acuity in order to award you with a degree rather than the degree actually being a training to do the job. That's the difference in practical experience for marketing roles and recognition of the fact that services are human business relationships built on trust. Professions insist that as a marketer you have two years practical experience after you do your degree. The real world is different and one wonders whether there is a degree of laziness amongst the academics in setting the same topic year on, year on. We are told that's changing now. It again comes back to the expectation of buying an instant solution. Professional firms have this tendency of going to an expert and saying, for example, I've engaged a lawyer so that's fixed now or I've got my three year profits locked in because I've engaged accountants. And as we all know it, it hardly ever works that way. What experts do have is an academic rigour and some experience obviously, but there is this tendency for human beings to expect simplistic solutions to things particularly in areas that they don't understand what they are getting.
The idea of a quick fix is becoming the the norm in the business landscape. The idea to give it 3 months, 6 months or 12 months to make it work. But in reality, we work in a world where things take time, people take time to adapt, social media is already crowded with infinite number of businesses and services, conversations are short lived and we are competing globally.
For all those reasons mentioned above, the idea of quick fix just doesn't fit anymore. One would argue, has it ever fit, has it really? The answer is no. It has never been a sustainable solution, but it's a tendency of mankind to look for things that are simple and easy, but they never have been and and to a certain extent with fooling ourselves if we think it is really, it's always more complicated. None of it is a simple tick-box. All experiences are unique and all services are unique (hopefully). When one looks at buildings, that's just a multi-story building or a house, but every single building in the world is different from another one. Even if they are identical and next door to another, the positioning, where they are, what they're built of how they were built. Every single one is unique.
People are individual and unique. There is no easy way to do it. Yes, there are general rules one can apply but every situation is unique. Businesses have to adapt and change the way of looking at unrealistic marketing expectations. One part of the solution might be run short experiments. See what feedback comes back, a design term that's used in user experience industry, is the "iterative" nature of things, where a business is constantly adjusting and adapting. From a professional services point of view, this also works well. Because when a firm is not starting off on executing a 12-month strategy with set milestones, it is actually starting off by laying the groundwork for the foundation and building upon it.
At the end of the day, it is important to find out whether it works or not. Practical testing is common sense. Again at this stage, a problem that creeps up is - fear of failure. And we live in a culture where failure is not acceptable and with that comes the unrealistic expectations. A approach here that works is to engage in a feedback loop with your marketer. What is a reasonable expectation? How should we approach the market? This comes back to the holistic long-term strategy and knowing experimenting is an option, experiments are necessary in marketing.
The ConFuzed Show focusses on why marketing professional services is so confusing, how to deal with constant change, future growth and staying relevant.