I’ve got a good friend from Siberia. (I’m going somewhere with this, stay with me please)
Seriously… he was my full time programmer 10 years ago, then he came to visit, then I helped him immigrate to the USA. Now he lives a few minutes away from me.
When he and his wife (then his fiance’) first came to visit us here in New Hampshire in November, they were constantly shivering and complaining about how cold it was. (It was about 35 degrees that week, which is relatively warm for New Hampshire in the fall)
Very surprised, I said to him “Alex, you’re from fricking Siberia, where it’s maybe minus 10 on a warm day, what gives?”
He looked at me with a funny Russian smile and said, in the thickest of Russian accents:
“Glenn, man from Siberia NOT warm man, man from Siberia man with lots of clothes!”
In other words, I had assumed the Siberian weather had toughened him up, and that he could go anywhere on the planet without batting an eye. I had visions of him taking showers outside in the snow in his bathing trunks, like the Ant Arctic expedition workers I had read about in the Guiness Book of World Records as a child.
I figured he lived in an igloo or something, chewed on ice all day long for water, and spat out icicles with glee.
But I was wrong.
I made assumptions about the man, when what I should have been looking at was his adaptive tools and materials (his warm clothing).
He was wrong too. He came to New Hampshire without these tools.
It’s a funny story without too serious a consequence, but if you transfer it to the marketing arena it can be deadly.
Because here’s a story I hear all too often…
Guy does his research, goes into a competitive market, builds up a series of products and services, writes a g’zillion follow ups, and tests and tweaks his way into strong profitability.
THEN, he starts to feel like a SuperMan. He forgets how he got where he was.
He goes into a new market without doing the research, without plans for a full product line, without the expectation of a long period of testing and tweaking his conversion, without the same zeal for writing follow ups, without the same break even cash flow planning, without the willingness to thoroughly and passionately immerse himself in the market by talking to the customers and finding out what they smell like.
He just trots off to a totally foreign country, attributing his success to his personal marketing genius, rather than all the tools, methods, resources, and techniques which put him where he was.
He forgets to bring his warm clothes.
If he’s lucky, he only shivers a little until a kind stranger or friend gives him shelter.
More often, he almost freezes to death and catches the next plane back home.
You see, we can be ruined by our own success.
We’re constantly tempted to attribute it too much to our own abilities, and our sheer marketing genius, which, naturally, means we can go into any market or take on any competitor without the exhaustive, and sometimes quite tedious research and planning required to get there.
Which is why I strive to be one dumb-ass marketer, with lots of checklists, cheat sheets, and methodical plans for everything I do.
Not that I’m always perfect… just like everyone else I’ve made my mistakes by thinking too much of myself too.
But a simple checklist goes a long way towards knocking my ego back down where it needs to be. (Read “The Checklist Manifesto” at your leisure by the way, it’s surprisingly insightful and will change the way you run your business in a weekend)
“PPC Marketer from Siberia Not AdWords Genius, Marketer from Siberia Man with Lots of Checklists!”
For what it’s worth,
Dr. G 🙂