If you ever get the chance to hear Malcolm Gladwell speak I highly recommend going. I had the opportunity to hear him speak once about a concept he calls “Expert Failure.” He was suggesting that once you feel you have mastered your area of expertise, you stop seeing the warning signs of what might be breaking own or what might possibly go wrong.
It reminded me of a story about a young student entrepreneur I met once. He was a polite young Mexican who was currently studying for his Business degree. While he is completing his degree here in Canada he also owned and operated the second largest online bookstore in Mexico with annual sales exceeding $1 million dollars. As he shared his story, I was astounded how much he knew about the day to day operations of this business that runs in a completely different company, and I realized this is someone so far from expert failure that we could all learn a lesson or two from this astounding young, hardworking man and the principles of Malcolm Gladwell.
#1 - LISTEN Gladwell shared a story about General Hooker and the Battle of Chancellorsville in the American Civil War who had his scouts trying to tell him the enemy was getting set to invade. He didn’t listen to them and as a result his army was caught by surprise and he lost a battle that he should never have lost. Our young little student learned early in his career that his customer can tell him better than anyone what information they require and what trust factors need to be in place before they will buy from him. In Mexico, adults are very uncomfortable purchasing online. It took him years to build enough trust with them, as well as to train them to place their orders online instead of over the phone. He continued to maintain this high level of customer intimacy.
Lesson Learned – When is the last time you surveyed your clients or received feedback? With modern day gathering sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In etc, it’s never been easier to have a real conversation with your target audience. Survey them, poll them, interview them - find out what you can do better and what they need from you to feel comfortable doing business with you.
#2 – REVIEW, REVISE, RE-IMPLEMENT As this young Mexican told his story, he, more than any of his peers, shared an incredible amount of measurable results. He learned that his first website wasn’t effective in attracting clients, so he changed it. It was better, but his analytics told him it could be better yet. So more changes. He was constantly looking at patterns, and preferences, revising his approach and quickly implementing changes. He did the same with his costs – looking at the amount he was buying from his suppliers, and negotiating better rates, so that he could maintain his competitive pricing for his customers.
Lesson Learned – How often do you measure the effectiveness of your marketing? Do you look at your costs and ways to minimize these? Do you review the results, split test ads, revise your approach and quickly implement the changes? Do you look at the stats of your website every week and consider ways to add to your content, change your content to make it better?
Sometimes we get so busy that we assume that the future will only be better, and then find ourselves in yet another valley; scratching our heads, wondering how that happened AGAIN! LISTEN, LEARN, MEASURE, IMPROVE. Don’t become a victim of expert failure.
Cidnee is a sought after speaker on small business marketing, online marketing and content marketing.
Her style is very warm, fun, informative and simple to digest.
She has spoken at a variety of conferences including women events, travel and tourism symposiums, trade and association conferences, municipal events, and of course marketing conferences.
Having pretty much grown up on a microphone (she started in Elementary school), Cidnee loves to inspire business owners and marketing professionals to embrace the sometimes daunting and always changing marketing strategies and tactics.
With over 20 years of marketing experience there is very little she can’t talk about and she strives to always make the talk relevant to her audience.
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