I just ran across an article in the Wall Street Journal (see link below) about the biggest mistakes doctors make. I was struck by the similarity to mistakes made by marketers. True, marketing people aren’t in the life or death business — even if it seems that way sometimes. However, recognizing pitfalls than can lead to bad outcomes should be a life-skill for marketers — as well as doctors.
The article cites 13 common mistakes. Two of them are particularly useful reminders to marketers. As you work to make good decisions, keep at least these two pitfalls in mind.
BAD DECISION PITFALL: OVERCONFIDENCE BIAS
The article explains, “A tendency to act on incomplete information, institutions or hunches. Too much faith is placed in opinion instead of carefully gathered evidence.”
So, who among us has not regretted an impulsive decision, one with reverberating effects? For example, the marketer who authorized promoting the Nova compact sedan in Spain with great fanfare. Only to discover that “Nova” meant “No Go” in Spanish. Oops. Some carefully gathered evidence would have been a good thing.
I remember a bank client of mine once decided, without any advance notice to customers (this was before the TISA regulations), to convert all their free checking accounts to $4.99 per month. This decision was made in reliance upon a profitability consultant with no consultation with anyone else — least of all the marketing department. My client put the change into effect within 24 hours of the decision. In the first 7 days, the bank lost 30% of those accounts, taking $7 million in deposits with them. Did I tell you the bank was a $400 million bank? Yes, a clear cut case of overconfidence bias.
BAD DECISION PITFALL: BANDWAGON EFFECT
This is defined as “The tendency for people on a medical team to believe and do certain things because many others are doing so.”
We’ve all seen this happen a bunch of times. Most recently companies have launched major-big-time Facebook programs, mostly because one of their peers have done one. So, off they go with not a scrap of strategy in sight. Typically, the program bombs and all around the company you hear Facebook being roundly condemned. (This is an example of the article’s “Fundamental Attrition Error.” As in, the failure was Facebook, not us.)
What is needed is more careful, analytical thinking and less headlong decision making. Before pulling the trigger, take a break and ask yourself, “Have I really thought through the implications of what I’m about to do? Have I carefully considered all the outcomes? Am I prepared to live with the consequences (loss of market share, wasted resources, etc.) that may ensue?
We have to make decisions every day. Let’s take a moment and be sure we’re making a good one.
Want to talk over ways to make better marketing decisions? Email me with MISTAKES in the subject line. Remember, it never costs anything to share our experience.
SOURCE LINK: The Wall Street Journal (November 17, 2013). http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304402104579151232421802264?KEYWORDS=mistakes+doctors+make