Playing catch-up can be your trump card

Many of you have complete autonomy in your marketing decisions, maybe because you have a company ethic which trusts those with a responsibility to make the right choices …or maybe because you own the company. But I’m occasionally reminded that some of you are in the unfortunate position of having to justify everything you want to do, including having to overcome some irrational prejudices in more senior management.

A topical issue might be the MD rejecting any talk of the company experimenting with social media, just because he felt that it was only something kids used at home. These are probably the same people who didn’t let the company invest in a website or let staff have web access until 2001.

A normal reaction here might be to start producing data to backup the argument, but I wonder if this might be a mistake. Some prejudices are only strengthened when people are backed into a corner by research: think of those who still claim that there’s no such thing as climate change, that humans and dinosaurs walked the earth together, or that vaccines cause autism.

Instead of quoting data, perhaps a better argument might be to play on fears. The biggest one of these is nearly always fear of the opposition (which is daft, because it’s rare that the majority of them know more than you do). It’s something which exhibition companies have exploited ruthlessly for years. I lost count of the number of times I stood chatting to an idle marketing manager at a trade show, as tumbleweed blew down the aisles, listening to how the company was only there because the sales director was convinced all the competition would have a massive presence at the event.

Irrational as it may seem, “here’s a list of everyone else who’s doing it” might sometimes be the most productive way to get something approved.

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