But have we been able to carry forward any of our learning into an actionable plan to improve customer acquisition and retention?
To that matter, did we manage to learn anything valuable at all?
Is your 2013 strategy about managing risk by not taking risk?
When you follow others, you walk a path that’s had the majority of the risk removed from it–for better or worse. Like so many colonies of lemmings before us, we follow industry trends because we’re told they’re valuable and relevant for our brand and for our customers, so we do it–often without question. But for the marketer who’s resisted the lure of the lemmings and who’s been able to learn not just from his or her own mistakes, but also from the mistakes of others, you’ve got a distinct advantage over others – fresh perspective.
Perspective is the power to see things not only as they are, but to also see what they can be. And perspective is also the ability to determine the path to get you from where you are to what you can be. Perspective is what enables strategic vision. And strategic vision empowers your marketing.
Strategic vision carries with it risk – the risk of venturing a path less traveled. That path can reap untold rewards well beyond what the masses of lemmings have ever experienced.
But to extract the learning that gives you perspective, you need ask yourself and others around you good, honest questions.
Ask Yourself 9 Key Questions
After facilitating many strategic planning sessions, I’ve learned that good questions are the key to unlocking untapped knowledge within a team. These questions, however, often make people shift in their seats as the answers can really be uncomfortable. But if you truly want to make a difference in 2013, you need to answer these 9 questions with intense, introspective honesty.
1. What does the customer actually want and need (versus what I think they want)?
2. Am I focused on the wrong things?
3. Is my attention on too many things?
4. Did I measure only the results that validated my plan and protected my ass?
5. Did I make it easier or harder for someone to become a customer?
6. Did I produce any measurable improvements to the bottom line of the enterprise?
7. Is my brand stronger, weaker or unchanged from my efforts?
8. At the end of the day, what relevant value did I provide?
9. Would the customer agree to my answers above?
The enlightened marketer creates an enlightened strategy
For those familiar with Socratic questions, you’ll recognize that they are designed to pull honesty to the surface for a specific purpose–to make us better and generate new insights on how to move forward, better, stronger and more focused than we did a year ago. These insights generate the fresh perspective necessary for sustainable improvement in every aspect of your organization.
But the biggest question remains for you to answer…
Will you have the bravery to really, truly be honest with yourself or will you continue to follow the path created by the lemmings?
Jeff Wilson is a marketing futurist and customer acquisition specialist. For over 15 years, Jeff’s work has assisted many leading global B2B and B2C enterprises in significantly improving how they attract and engage prospective customers to turn them into profitable relationships. Past clients include HP, IBM, Home Depot, ING Direct, Symantec and Syngenta. You can find Jeff on Twitter at @jeffthesensei.
Lead image by anieto2k via Creative Commons