Recently, my wife and I took care of our two little nieces, ages 3 and 6, while their parents went on a trip overseas. Since I consult a lot in the publishing industry, it’s fun to give them books and read story time together before bed. Inevitably, one of my nieces will ask a serious, but humorous, question that identifies the obvious, such as:
- Uncle Rob, why is your face so scratchy? Because I have a beard with whiskers…
- Uncle Rob, why do you get more cookies than me? Because I have a bigger tummy…
- Uncle Rob, how come I have to wear a shirt at the swimming pool, but you don’t? Because…err, let’s change the subject. Oh, look at that bird over there!
I love how young children have the ability to see obvious issues and ask straightforward questions. Something is good or something is bad. Their thinking isn’t clouded yet by outside opinion or innuendo. In addition, most children don’t over-analyze a situation to the point of paralysis. They see something as-is and call a spade a spade.
As adults, you and I would do well to recapture the child-like trait of seeing the obvious, especially when it comes to marketing. As an author, non-profit, or business owner, it’s easy to get so lost in our own material that we “can’t see the forest for the trees.” We can’t see the obvious problem, because we allow our perspective to get clouded by outside opinion, internal anxiety, or a fear of acknowledging the facts.
How do we miss the obvious in our marketing? Examples include:
- Watching sales drop for several months and blaming the problem on customers or the national economy.
- Sending out newsletters with boring titles and dull articles only to conclude that email marketing is a waste of time.
- Writing a book that doesn’t provoke the reader and wondering why people won’t buy it.
- Failing to capture success stories and assuming referrals are impossible to attain.
Many of the problems that we experience in business can be solved when we’re willing to ask ourselves obvious questions, such as:
- Does my marketing language clearly explain how the customer’s life will be improved?
- Is my book full of ideas that provoke the reader? Or, did I write without testing for honest feedback because I didn’t want to endure the editing process?
- Do I know why people donate to my non-profit or do I just assume why they do it?
- Am I hesitant to ask people for referrals because I’m afraid of rejection?
Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the obvious questions. If you feel too close to your material, ask someone you trust to provide candid feedback. If you still need help, my nieces are thinking about starting their own consulting company called Obvious Inc. They’ll be happy to grill you with all kinds of blunt questions. Just don’t ask them for embarrassing information about Uncle Rob.