Forbes website was priceless.Yesterday’s “thought of the day” on the
“Listening to advice often accomplishes far more than heeding it.”
Now those are words for any marketer to live by.
Your colleagues are less likely to have an opinion of what color the company should paint the walls of the office than they are on your materials, product plans, pricing, and whatever other marketing deliverables you are responsible for.
No one has a corner on brilliance. As marketers we get great ideas from those who are not trained in marketing, but may have a unique vantage point. We need to be accepting of this input because you never know where the next great idea will come from.
On the other hand, you’ll also get your share of half-baked ideas from people who don’t understand that you’re marketing to a target audience and not to them. Who cares if the sales team thinks you should get more creative with the web site. Can your prospect easily find what they are looking for? Is the site interactive enough to allow you to engage with the prospect, but not so much that it becomes annoying? Does the message resonate with the prospect and entice them to respond to your call to action? That’s what matters and not the opinion of the head of sales who thinks that you should use pictures of ‘widgets” instead of people.
I find that it helps to have ways of responding to half-baked ideas. The following phrases are nonconfrontational but also noncommittal:
• “Tell me more.” I used to say, “Can you elaborate?” But I found this to come across as confrontational so I switched to plainer English.
• “That’s an interesting perspective.” “Point of view” is also more confrontational than “perspective” because it implies a difference of opinion. “Perspective” implies both are valid.
• “That’s good to know.” This is useful when someone gives you a fact that you know is rubbish but it doesn’t serve a purpose to confront them.
• “Let me give that some thought.” Since those with the strongest opinions are also often the most relentless, this helps to get them off the topic. It’s helpful if you can then comment on something that brings the conversation back to a more productive topic.
All of these phrases show that you are accepting input but they don’t promise that you will act on it. On the other hand, they also leave you with room to consider the opinions offered and to change your own mind. Nothing’s worse than deciding that someone else’s idea is better after fervently, and publicly, arguing against the proposed approach.
A marketing professional needs to have the humility to accept input and understand that others may have better ideas than their own. But, they also need to have the emotional maturity to accept input without debate, even of they don’t intend to act on it. Finally, they need to have enough confidence in their understanding of marketing principles that they can carry out the strategies and tactics that they know will allow them to achieve the company objectives.