In my more youthful days I was accused by a friend of being, too ‘deep’. On further enquiry I was given an example. She said, if I saw a beautiful tulip growing, I would want to dig it up to discover how it grew and why it performed so well. Rightly or wrongly, she was right. I am perhaps guilty of destroying something to discover the truth about it – it is the scientist in me.
On this occasion, I am not being deliberately destructive but I am mystified by something that has always haunted me. It is this: Why do we seek advice from people who know better, pay for it, then discard that advice? This has been sheeted home to me more recently by the accumulation of reality ‘advice’ shows seen on TV. Being fortunate enough to have pay television, I can indulge in programs such as ‘Property Ladder’, ‘The Hotel Inspector’ and ‘The Chopping Block’ etc. to my heart’s content. You know the programs where experts are asked to advise people engaging in professional activities on how to create better outcomes.
Inevitably their businesses are usually failing and they agree that help is needed. The consistency of the recipients responses is staggering. Without fail 90% of them challenge the advice and a good 70% ignore it. I can’t for the life of me understand why?
My limited psychological experience tells me that it is partially a matter of ego and that we have evolved to such a state of self assured that we can challenge expertise which we do not possess. Yet that same limited psychology also tells me that truly self confident people are happy to accept advice, change course and win the day. As a consequence I can only stand confused with a tulip in my hand.
The reason it bothers me is because we as advisors see this played out every day. Soundly rationalised strategy ignored; colour choices rejected; design elements destroyed; brand consistency abandoned. It makes little sense when people say, “Yes it’s nice but I like my idea better!”
Yes, I’m conscious that we all have opinions but often those opinions are driven by our likes and dislikes and they are not the issue. What’s important is the likes and dislikes of those we serve and because you like duck egg blue doesn’t mean the rest of the world, including your clients and customers, like duck egg blue. But it’s much more than colour and design, it’s everything.
I don’t play the piano very well – I wish with all my heart I did and if I want to play it well I’d ask for help from a real teacher – a pianist, someone with talent. When they tell me what to do I don’t say, “Nah! Don’t like that way, why don’t we try it this way?” That’s absurd. But in reality that happens to us consultants every live long day.
I want to appeal to those people who look at marketing, think it looks easy, try it and can’t make it work. It’s good that you should seek advice. However when you do realise that the status quo is not an option and that you’ll need to change some things, (if nothing changes it will remain the same) for heaven’s sake accept that you need to change.
More importantly it is imperative you accept that you must develop an attitude which has long served me well. You have a choice: ‘you can feed your ego or you can feed your family’. My view is simple, forget the ego. Let the sunshine in and stick your ego where the sun don’t shine.