I met up with Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, director of MECLABS and Marketing Experiments, so we could talk about the most expensive mistakes that he and his team of researchers see companies making every day.
And to have an opportunity to see the inner working of the top research institution devoted to online marketing and experimentation was awe inspiring. Incredible operation.
We shot our video in the same studio where Flint and his team deliver their webinars — which was kind of like being allowed behind the green curtain of Oz and seeing all of the moving parts. Awesome.
It has been my experience that during an interview like this — with all sorts of insights flying around — there is always that one thing that someone says that changes everything. Flint did not disappoint when he told me that the biggest, most expensive mistake companies make online was… “Stephen, clarity always trumps persuasion.”
Spot on, Flint.
“I need to see the options with such clarity that they empower me,” Flint told me. “The moment they quit empowering me and start confusing me, what could have been a positive becomes a negative.” This is very important.
The key — Flint went on to tell me — is perception. Get your customers to perceive your value, otherwise it doesn’t exist. To put this another way, if you have a valuable product but your customers can’t see it’s value, it has no value at all. Not to you — and certainly not to your customers.
So, how can we change the value perceived through the eyes of our customers?
As Flint told me, we have to come to a realization that makes us want to change. If we change a couple things on the outside — if we try to be more like our customers — we might get short term results. But to get the real long term results, the change has to come on the inside.
The first step in Flint’s method towards improving the perceived value is realizing that when we ask ourselves what matters to our customers, we are really forming a hypothesis. We don’t know what our customers want — not without some sort of research — so we have to hypothesize about what it is that they want.
After we have a hypothesis — the next step is to test it. Some tests are planned — and the ones that are unplanned are “plans and failures.” The thing we have to keep in mind during the tests is something easily forgotten. Our customers are human beings.
Here’s the question he told me that you should always assume that your customers are always asking. “If I am the ideal customer,” Flint asked me, “Why should I be purchasing from you rather than any of your competitors?” This is the question you must have answered, otherwise you’ll simply be surviving and never thriving.
“The number one mistake we make is failing to articulate and test a value proposition,” Flint told me. When we succeed with these steps, our whole job becomes easier.
Thanks for the amazing mentorship, Flint.
For more on this mistake, please watch my above interview with Flint McGlaughlin.