Don’t Believe The Hype! Your Success Depends On It

Don't Believe The Hype! Your Success Depends On It

You know how in sales they use the ABC acronym to mean “Always Be Closing?” Well I’ve got a better one for you, and one that matters more to the success of your business:

Always Be Questioning

If you fail to ask questions, quickly and often, it can be life or death for your business. But we’re not exactly taught to question, are we? Especially when it comes to marketing, we’re (more often than not) told to just follow this formula or use this roadmap or take these three steps to success. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for independent thought.

And I get it. We’re busy. Sometimes we just want someone to tell us how so we can follow the steps and get where we’re going. But (more often than not) that is a recipe for ending up lost in the woods with nothing but a wicked witch and a poison apple or two.

While we’re regressing to childhood, let me ask you a question…

Were You Raised To Be A Good Little Girl Or Boy?

Growing up, here are a few of the things I learned:

Policemen are good.

Teachers are right.

Do what your boss says.

Don’t rock the boat.

And never, ever, question authority.

If you’re like me, when someone knocks on your door and says you need the super-duper-vacuum-cleaner-monstrosity-thing they’re selling then you let them in and let them sell it to you.

I own some fancy vacuum cleaners, an amazing industrial freezer, an entire set of the most scientifically high tech cookware you’ll ever see but thank God my deluxe premium pizza subscription has finally run out.

In real life it costs a lot of money to believe that much hype! But it’s the same when it comes to marketing your business online.

When someone tells you that you need a Facebook page, email autoresponder, Pinterest account…. Or tries to sell you the SEO plan, hosting package, training course… do you say, “WHOA! I totally need that!”?

Or Do You Ask, “Why?”

Most of us figure out that some policemen are corrupt, some teachers are coasting on their tenure and some bosses stink.

But we still shy away from rocking the boat and if any of the people I know – from friends to family to colleagues to acquaintances and even strangers – are any indication… we’re not always comfortable challenging what we perceive as the “authority” on a subject.

Lots of us seem to be preprogrammed to think that someone else knows more than us. Is smarter than us. Has better answers than us.

So we sink hundreds of dollars into “learning” and we pour thousands into the marketing idea du jour. Why? Well, because someone told us to!

I could regale you with horror stories all day of clients who came to me insisting they had to spend $1,000 a month on Yellow Pages ads! And they needed someone to change their website page titles once a month for SEO!

I listen to people tell me all the time how they wish they could afford the super awesome amazing never to be seen again seminar because surely THAT is the thing that will turn their business around and give them all the answers.

But I won’t. I think you get the point. And if you listen to our podcast (or read any of our articles) you know that we’re all about challenging the status quo, so you have probably already heard a horror story or two.

Since you neither want to waste money on vacuum cleaners and cookware nor do you want to waste time pining over the amazing perfect thing you might have had if you could have afforded it…

What To Do?

It’s quite simple, really, but also rather difficult because it means that you have to be in a constant state of vigilance. You need to be ready to challenge someone every. single. time.

Play as dumb and as ornery as you have to, because the truth is you don’t need a Facebook page or a Pinterest account or 47 title changes or the webinar, book, plan, blueprint or silver plated cookware. You only need what works and makes sense for you, your marketing and your business.

Next time you get a proposal or are enticed by a sales page or wonder if maybe that guy selling that thing really does have the secret to making six figures in five minutes… I want you invite your inner two-year-old to the table and ask questions until you drive someone nuts.

And don’t quit until you’re satisfied that you know the answers.

Why? Because if you don’t you may be sacrificing time, money and resources. You could be missing out on real opportunities. You might sabotage your own success and never even realize it.

Here’s My Challenge To You TODAY.

Put yourself in a questioning mindset and take nothing at face value.

When you read a blog and someone throws out a stat like, “98% of your customers are on Facebook” I want you to ask, “Says who?”

And when they come up with some “study” I want you to ask, “Can I see that?”

And when you see it I want you to think about how the study was conducted, what the biases may have been and whether results based on the experiences of three people are really worth hanging your hat on.

When you talk to your colleagues and someone says, “We need a company blog,” I want you to ask, “What for?”

And keep on going.

I’m not suggesting these are bad ideas. Maybe a blog or Facebook page or ad or webinar would actually be a great idea.

Just don’t take it at face value. Step back, shut the door, let the salesperson wait on the porch – trust me, even the one time only never to be seen again deal will be back – and ask questions until you understand the true value of an idea, strategy or tactic for your business.

As the “good girl” I can tell you that I’ve grown up to be what my mom used to call a “Contrary Mary”. So I’m up for a good debate any day. I love to ask questions and look at opposing viewpoints. I’m even happy to be challenged on everything that I say – here on our blog, in our podcast, anywhere.

I’m not as fond of being wrong but it happens!

So if you ever feel like throwing my own words back at me and arguing counterpoint, you have my full encouragement.

Have a contrary day!

Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn Rivera

I'm a business owner, content creator, podcaster and marketer. In 1999 I founded Rahvalor Interactive, a web and creative services production studio, with my husband and business partner Ralph. In 2011 we created Web.Search.Social, a consulting and marketing service line for small businesses. We also cohost the Web.Search.Social Podcast where we challenge the status quo of marketing and the Carbon Based Business Units podcast where we talk about the human side of being an entrepreneur. On any given day I wear the hat of project manager, consultant, social media manager and content marketer. My true passion is writing and in my spare time I'm busy planning my early retirement to Barcelona as a famous and wealthy novelist.
Carol Lynn Rivera
Carol Lynn Rivera
  • “The Horrors of Hype”

    It costs gobs of money
    Buying into all the hype
    In lieu of being suckered
    Become the asking type

    Hype is the wicked witch
    Tricky, slick, and cunning
    With earmarks of deceit
    Evil tactics, unbecoming

    Take nothing at face value
    Feel free to rock the boat
    You need to spend wisely
    To keep your biz afloat

    The marketing idea du jour
    Looks swell on the surface
    But look again and question
    If it really serves a purpose

    Stop and stay grounded
    Hype makes you dizzy
    Always be questioning
    Even when you’re busy

    The hype will never end. But by staying inquisitive and suspecting, we can choose not to take a bite from the poisonous apple.

    • Melanie, you outdo yourself with every day that goes by! I didn’t think it was possible for someone to be awesome and then keep being awesomer as time goes on but you amaze, entertain and impress me every day. Stay away from those poison apples! I need you around for a loooooooong time.

      • I’m putting every apple that lands under my nose under the “Web.Search.Social Marketing Microscope”. I’m confident there’s not a poison you can’t detect! 😉

        Your kudos and compliments are awesomer than most. Thanks! 🙂

  • Katherine Kotaw

    Great advice, Carol Lynn, and there’s a corollary to that for marketers: unless you’re selling a one-time-only product and know you’ll never get repeat business, you WANT questioning clients. The ones who don’t ask anything upfront — and always — are the ones who will bolt as soon as the next door-to-door (laptop-to-laptop) marketing pro shows up with a shiny new marketing toy.

    So the Always Ask Questions advice is good for both business owners and marketers. There simply is no single strategy that works and no single marketing plan that won’t need to be tweaked — and perhaps tossed — because the needs of a company’s customers and the ways to market to him are not static.

    Better to be a Contrary Mary than a Yes Jess. We need more Why Guys.

    • oooo a Yes Jess! I never heard of that one but I like it! You’re right – people who question are more invested. They want to understand as opposed to just shoving you off to “do your thing” without really knowing what’s happening. Plus that is really a recipe for disaster!

  • Curiosity, questioning, open mind…all great ingredients for success.

    • Too bad that is the last thing we’re ever taught! But that’s rant for another day…