Trust Your POV But Verify
As CEO you’ve been more right than wrong in your career, certainly vs. others. Therefore, you’ve grown to trust your judgment, your gut. Sure, you get other people’s POV but in the end you need to make the final, sometimes hard decisions. In many areas that is what you were hired to do, or in the case of entrepreneurs how you built your business.
However, when it comes to decisions on your brand - the name, logo/package, core message, and key communication materials such as advertising, it’s smart / often critical to get some feedback from your key consumers, customers and target prospects. Not to metion how your product or service performs or is perceived. It’s important to determine if a change will help or hurt. Despite your experience, market knowledge, and intellect, we all live in a bit of a bubble and can’t have a handle on everyone’s POV.
The solution is to do some properly crafted research. Now, there are those that view research as a bad word, particularly among some creative people who feel it waters down more “edgy” ideas that could catapult a brand to huge success. I can understand that. I’ve seen an impressive presentation of the immensely successful Absolut vodka advertising campaign that ended with “and research said people would never buy a vodka from Sweden.” Clearly Steve Jobs trusted his own judgment. But when reading more he spent a lot of time walking around Apple bouncing ideas off people. (And few of us come close to being Steve Jobs). So, it sometimes just becomes a gut call with at least the knoweldge of how people initially reacted. Or, maybe it provides some guidance for tweaks. Frankly, it probably means different research is warranted as so much depends upon how the research is conducted.
In my experience, if done properly, research can be hugely helpful to ferret out the bad ideas from the good. Some examples for perspective:
Selecting a new brand name for a major NYC based company with multiple partners who each preferred a different choice. They asked me which I preferred and all eyes were on me. I responded “how stupid do you think I am? No matter which one I choose one or more of you are going to be unhappy with me.” A series of well-constructed focus groups gave a clear winner (and it wasn’t my favorite). The winner is still around today as a major player in its market niche.
Taking the unusual step of placing the ingredients on the front of a consumer packaged goods food product because they were so simple, few and pure vs. all the unnatural ingredients in the major category brands. It sounded crazy at first. But consumers immediately selected it vs numerous other options. They rated it not just a little better but multiple times better than other versions and the competition. As an added perspective, the CEO just loved one version of the many different package designs with the ingredients on the front. To his credit he just asked that it be included in the final large-scale quantitative study. It lost, but he understood that in the end it wasn’t his choice but both current and prospect consumers who were the important decision makers.
Yes, it takes some time and money. But far less than getting it wrong. It also provides an irrefutable foundation of support and rationale when others may ask why you made that decision. They can question your decisions and POV, but it’s a lot harder for them to dispute target-based opinions from research.
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