“Should Be” vs. “Is”

The idea for this post has been percolating for a very long time… so long, in fact, that I should probably credit several sources that I can no longer remember. 🙂

Let’s get right to it.

There’s a huge chasm between “what ought to be” and “what actually is“. And here’s the kicker: not distinguishing between them, and giving each their proper place, is a recipe for disaster. Seriously.

I’m reminded of the guy (let’s call him George) who dresses slovenly and forgets to bathe regularly and still somehow supposes he is a hit with the ladies. If George’s romantic situation is going to improve, he needs to “get real” (in the Dr. Phil sense) and recognize that he is indeed a slob – and then do something about it. He can’t simply keep hoping to meet Ms. Right. Not gonna happen. If she did show up, she wouldn’t stick around.

Here’s a little vulnerable self-disclosure:

I’ve sometimes fallen into a similar trap with my marketing efforts. I find myself thinking that my customers and prospects should be interested in what I want them to buy or read, all the while forgetting that my readers are more interested in their own interests than mine.

Duh!

And I believe that any marketer who has had periods of struggling will recognize the root of the problem: narcissism.

See, the world doesn’t revolve around me, or you. If we want to reach a specific market, we have to persuade them to let us join their world, at least for a little while. We don’t generally find success by asking our prospects to join our own little self-interested orbit.

Some people wonder whether marketing is “hard”. I’m convinced that the “hardest” part of marketing is setting aside my own biases and yes, even my worldview… and adopting that of the people I’m hoping to reach.

To put it another way: taking off my glasses (which I have worn since the age of seven, thank you very much) and donning those of my newly adopted family.

In time, I may persuade some in my target market to wear my glasses for a time; but for now, their perspective is the only one that matters. Even though I have important things to say… ideas they need to learn (“should”) – I have to let them be (“is”) for now.

There are more implications that I’ll likely explore in future articles.

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