Tuesday, February 18, 2014

For How Long Will We Continue to Say " It’s Not an Option"?

There are no absolute rules in business.
I’m not sure if it also happens to you, but online I constantly find myself with posts whose titles are something like "( ... ) is no longer an option. It’s mandatory" and one can enter into the parentheses virtually anything you want:

"Being in social networks is no longer an option. You must do it"
"Advertising on Facebook is no longer an option. It’s mandatory"
"Having a website is no longer an option. If you don’t, you simply exist not"
"Optimizing your website for SEO is no longer an option. You must do it"

And on the same way, you'll find hundreds of entries in which people practically tell you the future of your business is at serious risk if you fail to do that one thing, or the other one, or if you don’t follow a quasi- perfect recipe or the "ten commandments" that someone has put together about a specific activity.

Since the day Albert Einstein said "Nothing is absolute, everything is relative” we should all take this approach when looking at things: There is no absolute truth at all for anything, and managing your business is not the exception to the rule. Everything is relative.

What we do have is a big, huge “It depends”

And it's really like that: It all comes together and makes sense when you approach it from the "it depends" point of view, because all important decisions you have to make in regards to your business will depend on something:
  • The money you have available.
  • The product you are selling.
  • The audience you’re going to be approaching to.
  • Your business’ philosophy.
  • Your emotional and professional situation.
  • Your business partners and their criteria.
  • The economic environment.
And we could continue forever listing in here elements that can influence your business decision making process.

I remember from my years in advertising, when annual budgets were confirmed, we would regularly apply a template to allocate the money: 50% for TV spots, 30% for radio and 20% for print and less traditional media.

Keep yourself away from the "template" approach.

And we would take it as a guide no matter what. It was a common industry practice and used to work fine. Instead of starting from a detailed and specific analysis of each client’s situation and its needs to build the strategy, we would take a rather "generic" approach for everyone.

It’s happening likewise nowadays: pre-built strategies that guarantee your success, specific roads will allow you to become rich in a matter of months, people recommending you to manage your business the same way successful companies have done it so that you can be as successful as they have, when what we really have is a tremendous arrange of possibilities that can be implemented depending on each business reality and particular situation.

Each and every business, yours included, is a unique reality.

Why nothing is obligatory but optional? As always, let me explain myself and the way I understand it with an example.

I remember reading a post written by my friend Joaquín Requejo on his blog, entitled "How not to sell social media" (sorry, it’s only in spanish) and which reflected a reality that we can see repeated every day, not just in the area of digital marketing.

Let me share with you what I have learnt from a case I have experienced myself recently: I'm assisting a company in developing their international customer base. The product they sell is highly sophisticated technology-wise and their business prospect (the audience which has the actual capacity to recommend or decide the purchase of this type of product) belongs to a highly professional and technical group, mostly engineers and professionals deeply immersed in the industry.

None of my potential customers are on Facebook, for instance, and the few who are, have very little activity, if they have any at all. It is then worth for me to put time and effort in this network? Who am I going to be talking with if my potential clients are not there?

The same thing happens with Twitter: My potential customers are so busy that they don’t care about tweeting. They have other things in which to invest their time. The question comes up again: Is it worth investing my time in this network, when my clients are not there either?

And we finally get to LinkedIn. Almost all of my business prospects are there and I already have had the opportunity to develop interesting conversations within this network and even generate business opportunities. Is it worth the time and effort? Obviously yes!

Following the same path, many of my potential customers’ web pages do not come up neither on the first nor the second page of Google SERPs. In fact, many of their web pages have rather poor design. Do they stop being of interest to me because of this? Not at all. They remain my potential customers. I will look for them even if I have to keep on searching and searching through SERPs. As a matter of fact, it’s easier for me to find them in professional directories rather than Google.

What is the moral of this story?

For your business, use of all available tools existing today is simply optional.

And the selection of one over the other, or a group of them, depends entirely on your current situation, your reality as a company, business, and all the factors I mentioned you above among many others, including the goals you’re going after.

"How this tool fits within my business plan? How does it help me in achieving my own goals?"

So when someone tells you that there is an action you simply have to do, no matter what, or emphasizing that a particular option is the way to go, without any further reasoning, always ask yourself this question: "How this tool fits within my business plan? How does it help me in achieving my own goals?"

Keep in mind your job is not to feed the person offering you the tool, but meet your unique business goals.

Nothing is absolute. And it’s also true when it comes to your business.

Article I recommend you to read:
"How not to sell social media" written by Joaquín Requejo (In Spanish)

Related posts in this blog :
In social networks, the important thing is to be where your clients are.
Social Media: Don’t stop halfway down.

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