The One Thing That Kills Great Marketing (And How You Can Fight It)

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This is a podcast episode titled, The One Thing That Kills Great Marketing (And How You Can Fight It). The summary for this episode is: Everyone has ideas and feedback. But that doesn't mean you should listen to everyone. Here's why DG says you should avoid consensus at all costs – and why limiting the number of cooks in the marketing "kitchen" will help you streamline decision-making and ship faster.

DG: Hey, what's up, everybody? It's D. G. and I hope that I'll see you at Hypergrowth in San Francisco. It's November 18th. The venue is amazing. We were there last year and it's going to be even better this year, but I want to hook you up as a loyal listener of this podcast. So if you use my code, swipe file 99, you'll get a huge discount on a ticket. It's something like three, 400%. I don't know, not a math guy, but you'll get a huge discount and we'll see you there. I'm going to be there. I'm flying out to San Francisco. I think I'm going to MC that day, so I'll be there. It's going to be an amazing day, lots of learning if you're in marketing. If you're listening to podcast, you got to go, okay? Hypergrowth San Francisco, November 18th. Use my promo code, swipe file 99, and you can go and get your ticket at hypergrowth. com. That's pretty simple. See ya. Hey, what's up, everybody? It's D. G. and I'm back with another episode of The Swipe File. Today, we're going to talk about one of the most important rules in marketing that nobody ever follows. So one of the most important rules in marketing that I think nobody ever follows is we let consensus win. This is a lesson that D. C., aka David Cancel, aka Drift CEO, has pounded into my head and I really felt the importance of it, which is basically, ever since the early days of Drift, anytime I would post something in Slack, I'll just give you an example, like," Hey, Team. What do you think of this headline? Do you like this one or this one?" Every time he would message me and he'd be like," No committees, no consensus." I was like," Okay, and he finally drilled that lesson into my head, which is basically," Look. Ultimately, you have to pick something and go, and if you wait for consensus and if you vote by committee, the product, the marketing, the whatever it is, is usually always going to be shit because every time you get too many opinions in there, nothing good happens. So this is something I've been thinking about a lot, because I've really seen how it can play such a big role in marketing. This one line that I've thought about a lot is, my wife and I were watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which is amazing, Jerry Seinfeld. In one of the episodes, I think it was him. I don't know. It was some comedian, so whoever it was doesn't matter. I won't give him the credit, but some comedian we were listening to said, basically he was talking about doing stand- up comedy. He was talking about how he's a stand- up comic. It's so hard to be a stand- up comic, but nobody realizes that. The reason why is because as people, we've all made someone laugh, right? So if you've made somebody laugh or made somebody laugh a couple times, he's like," You're like,'Oh, I can make people laugh. I could totally do stand- up comedy.'" He was like," No, you can't do stand- up comedy. It doesn't work like that." I think the same is true in marketing where, because everybody can write and everybody has opinions on what looks good or what doesn't because we're all people, right? I think that everybody does think that they can do marketing and that makes the job really difficult, right? I don't offer opinions on engineering because I don't know anything about that, but I think marketing is something that it's so relatable to so many people that everybody has an opinion about it and so they're going to share it." I don't like this color. What if we said this? What if we did it that way?" One of the most important marketing lessons that I learned from D. C., which is," Don't ever fall into that trap," He's like," Pick a lane and go." The way he thinks about it was he would rather that I pick one and fail, then go around and get a consensus. Now, that doesn't mean don't go get feedback from people. I'm not saying that you should not, that marketers out there should not collaborate and should not go get feedback from other people. But what I'm saying is when it comes to making important marketing decisions, or even debating over campaigns or headlines or subject lines or graphics or whatever, never make decisions by committee. So one thing that I've really thought about a lot lately is just limiting the decision makers in the marketing process. I'm talking about most of the time with the creative process," Hey, what should we do at this event? What should this talk say? What should this banner say? What should this ad say? What should this be?" Those are things that I try to limit to three people and I think that's been really helpful because we live in a world where everyone's going to give you feedback on your stuff today in Slack, over email, whatever and it's okay. You can listen. So I'm not an asshole to people and I don't listen to people's feedback, but deep down, I really only trust and look for the feedback of two to three people and that's who I look for. Basically, I've created internally in my head this little imaginary marketing advisory board and I have some people in my mind. So when I'm sharing a new project, whether that's a deck or a landing page or anything, or just an idea, a campaign we want to do, I share it with everybody. But I'm really only looking for the opinions of two or three people that are on that imaginary advisory board in my head, right? As you can imagine, D. C. is one of them. There's a couple of other people on that board and I think that's really helped streamline the decision- making process. It's also allowed me to ship much faster as a marketer, because if you live in this world where you're waiting to get everybody's approval, you're never going to get there. You're never going to get the version that everyone can agree on. Honestly, a lot of times, if you get the version that everyone agrees on, it ends up flopping. I don't know why that is, but it does seem like that. Most often, the ideas that very few people agree on, those are the ones that blow it out of the water. What's the saying? I can't count on one hand. I don't know. There's been a lot of times that we've done things that when sharing an initial idea with somebody, people were like," Oh, okay. I guess I don't get it." But once we do it, they're like," Holy shit. That was amazing." So you don't always get the best benchmark either when you share that with people. So never do marketing by committee. If you take one thing from this mini episode today, never do marketing by committee. Try to come up with your mini advisory board. Oh, the other thing I was going to say was related to this topic is I think that most marketers out there today, we make positioning and messaging too hard on ourselves. Everything you need to know about positioning and messaging is out there already. There's so many good books on this. Go read The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Then go read their other book, Positioning. Then go read Play Bigger by Christopher Lochhead. Those are three books right there that can basically tell you everything you need to know about positioning and messaging. The challenge is it's actually agreeing on what that positioning and messaging is. Let's say you just gave Jane the marketer inside of your company, the project of," Hey, you're going to own positioning and messaging. You're the final decision maker. You have complete control of this. You're going to do it," I guarantee you that she could come up with good positioning and it would work. The challenge is in a world where the CEO cares about the headline. The VP of sales cares about it. The marketing team character cares about it. The engineers care about it. It's so hard to balance all of those opinions in positioning and messaging, and so if you're a small company, you had three people, positioning and messaging, ideally, should be easy if you're working with a good marketer. But we get in our own way in that we try to let consensus rule, especially with big things like a brand makeover or redesigned positioning and messaging. So especially in big campaigns like that, or big overhauls, keep your circle small focus on two to three key people, go get feedback, go learn from everybody else. But when it comes to actually pushing go and shipping that work, have the final decision be made by you with the guidance of three, four other people that you make up on your mini imaginary advisory board. So let me know if you agree with me. Hit me up on Twitter @ DaveGerhardt. I want to know how you avoid decision- making fatigue in marketing, because it's very real, so tweet at me. I want to know that you listened to this episode and how you manage that at your company, because it's something that I'm always, always dealing with, but just a little rant I wanted to get off my head, keep it small, rule of three. Steve Jobs always used the rule of threes in presentations and whatever, you can apply it to meetings. Keep your marketing big decision meetings limited the three people or less and I'll catch you on another episode. All right. See ya. Hey, thanks for listening to another episode of The Swipe File. I'm having a lot of fun doing this podcast and so, because it's fun for me, I hope it's fun for you. It would mean the world if you could leave a review. Reviews really help and so go leave a review. Go to Apple Podcasts, leave a review. Let me know what you liked about the show, didn't like, want to hear more of. Also, if you're not already subscribed, make sure you go subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify. This show is everywhere that you get your podcasts probably where you're listening right now. But if you want more content like this, if you want to go a layer deeper, join me on Drift Insider. It's drift. com/ insider. We're teaching courses. We're sharing videos and we have exclusive content for people just like you in marketing that we do not share publicly. So go and check it out, drift. com/ insider.


Everyone has ideas and feedback. But that doesn't mean you should listen to everyone. Here's why DG says you should avoid consensus at all costs – and why limiting the number of cooks in the marketing "kitchen" will help you streamline decision-making and ship faster.