Four Ways To Make Good Marketing Decisions in Spite of Ourselves

Four Ways To Make Good Marketing Decisions in Spite of Ourselves

When we’re aware of our innate bias, we become better marketers. When we consistently interpret things based on our cultural norms and beliefs our bias becomes silent and we can make poor marketing judgements.

There is another kind of bias that can be even more insidious. It is called cognitive bias, and it is one that all humans share. When our cognitive bias kicks in, we have the tendency to make systematic decisions based on cognitive factors rather than evidence. As human beings we exhibit inherent errors in thinking when processing information. These inherent errors are the result of genetic predisposition that has arisen over time as we evolved as a species in order to help us survive.

In his research, Dan Ariely Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University points out: “We must challenge our assumptions about how humans behave,” Ariely says, explaining that “we have very strong intuitions about all kinds of things—our own ability, how the economy works, how we should pay school teachers. But unless we start testing those intuitions, we’re not going to do better.”

How does this kind of biased intuition impact us as marketers? Many times when looking back on previous marketing decisions, we can see that our judgement was biased and our intuition failed us. Here are four ways make good marketing decisions in spite of ourselves:

  1. Be aware of your own bias, and the individual bias of each of your team members. We have an unconscious bias but it doesn’t always stay hidden. Be aware of your first reaction when you encounter someone who is different than yourself. That will be a clue. What is your decision making process like when working with different groups. Do you have a consistent reactions linked to the nature of similarities in each group? That could be the clue of a bias.
  2. Expose yourself to other cultures and belief systems. A great way to do this is through travel. I’ve broadened by horizons and thinking process by immersion in the cultures of people in foreign countries. It allows you to genuinely step outside your own cultural beliefs when testing your marketing decisions.
  3. Don’t allow your decision making to be short circuited. Many marketers leverage the mental short cuts taken by buyers when they are influenced by cognitive bias. For example when a buyer anchors on the first thing they hear or see, it short circuits their thinking process and they use that anchor to reinforce their judgement about a product or service. That same cognitive bias can work against the marketer when we allow our decision making to be short circuited.
  4. Test your intuitions. In the May 2015 issue of Harvard Business Review, there is a great article titled “Outsmart Your Own Biases“.  In this article, along with advice about testing out intuitions, there are several great tips including: a) Make three estimates; b) Think twice; and c) Take an outside view.

Our ability to reach beyond our biases will determine our success as marketers.

Willis Turner, CAE CME CSE, is an association management professional, speaker and author. Willis is the President & CEO of Sales & Marketing Executives International, the worldwide professional association for sales and marketing, established in 1935.

Photo Credit: Himanshu Singh Gurjar

The Power of Our Personal Brand

The Power of Our Personal Brand

What do major brands have in common with you? A lot. When you think about brands, you automatically rank them in order of preference. Consumer brands have the power of attraction and also the power to send out negative signals that repel you as a buyer. You also have a brand, it is called your personal brand.

Whether you are in sales, marketing or another professional career, your own personal brand has a significant influence on your personal success. Here are specific areas where you can take action to develop a positive personal brand.

Social Engagement

The popularity and ubiquitous aspects of social media channels available to us make it easier than ever to engage socially. Many clues to our own personal brand can be found in what we share on social media and how we engage with others. Similar to the offline world where we are naturally attracted to some personalities and not others, on social media we have the opportunity to network with a collection of individuals who share similar values and lifestyles. What we post and the tone of our discourse can add positively to our personal brand. Our tone can also detract or build a negative image.

“We should never post anything in the heat of the moment,” says digital marketing expert Mhairi Petrovic, CME, President of Out-Smarts. It can be quite tempting to react immediately during life’s events and many people turn to social media to “rant” or complain. Mhairi’s advice can also be applied to how we respond to the posts and shared content of our social media connections.

Dress for Success

You’ve likely heard the term “Dress for Success”. There are so many ways that you can dress for success. Your personal style may be a reflection of your generation, culture, religion or lifestyle. Regardless of the prominent influence of any of these factors, there can be strong correlation between how others perceive your dress and your personal brand. Sheila Anderson, Corporate Image Consultant with Image Power Play says “People are constantly judging us. We have seven seconds to make our impression.” Dress is just one factor, but an important one. Anderson says “Ninety percent of information transmitted to our brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in our brains than words. Every moment of every day you are influencing others through your image in both your personal and professional life. If you haven’t thought about how you came across in the first seven seconds of meeting someone–don’t worry. They have already done it for you.”

We may be very proud of our style of dress and believe it is an expression of our individuality, however, if our style has dissonance with our profession, we are sending out mixed signals and our personal brand will suffer.

Personal and Corporate Brands

If we work in the corporate world, our personal brand is also advocating for the corporate brand. Many leading brands conduct training to help their employees adhere to corporate branding guidelines while giving flexibility to individual expression.

Everyone markets. Our personal brand is telling a story. What is your story?

Willis Turner, CAE CME CSE, is an association management professional, speaker and author. Willis is the President & CEO of Sales & Marketing Executives International, the worldwide professional association for sales and marketing, established in 1935.
Apparently Stupid and Instagram Marketing can be used in the same Sentence

Apparently Stupid and Instagram Marketing can be used in the same Sentence

I’m going to lie to you and disparage my customers while posting my marketing messages on Instagram. Sounds like a clever marketing plan. Who would do that, right? Well, apparently stupid is alive and well on Instagram.

Everyone Markets

Apparently I run a coffee shop.

mikemoneywrks has been busy pouring over my Instagram feed and has deduced that I run a coffee shop. Not only that, but he claims my coffee shop is more committed than the ones he funds. Of course I looked up his Instagram bio because I was curious as to what kind of business he is running. Well, with good old mikemoneywrks you can get pretty much unlimited gobs of cash to run your coffee shop just by filling out a short form on his landing page. Seriously, I’m looking for a cafe location already!

My Instagram friends know I don’t run a coffee shop, and if old mikemoneywrks had truly been viewing my feed, he would know that I like coffee, rather than just assume because I used #coffee in my post that I was promoting my coffee shop.

So, that my friends is a bad example of Instagram marketing. Politely put. In other words, just plain stupid.

Are there good examples? Yes, lets look at a couple.

Everyone Markets

Example of sharing a followers content

Share Your Followers Content

I’ve often had company Instagram accounts post on my feed and request permission to repost, especially when I’ve tagged them or used a hashtag they are following or using with their business. The screenshot above is a good example of how Chobani is acknowledging one of their followers. Obviously they have picked a post that artfully and tastefully portrays their brand message.

It is quite simple to search out good content on Instagram and share it.

Everyone Markets

Driving Engagement

Driving Engagement on Your Instagram Feed

Another great way to market on Instagram is by driving engagement the way Muir Glen Organic does. Their bio link and description help drive engagement by reposting your photos to feedfeed.

All these food photos are making me hungry. I’m going to have to stop discussing marketing on Instagram with you and go eat! Or, maybe open a coffee shop with that new money. 😂

Seriously, though, everyone markets, and everyone consumes marketing. If you are a marketer, look at how companies are marketing to you and learn the lessons, both good and bad. Don’t let stupid and Instagram marketing be used in the same sentence when the conversation turns to your brand.

Looking Through Your Window and the Customer Conversation

Looking Through Your Window and the Customer Conversation

What conversation is your customer having about the brand when they look through your window? Is it a conversation that other customers and prospective customers will have an affinity for joining?

It is often a good exercise to do a walk around and look at things from a customer perspective. On many digital sites we have admin access for the “back end” and we can also close that view or use a different link to see our social media site or web page as others would see it. The same goes for our physical presence. What does our plant look like from a customer point of view.

Years ago I was in the restaurant business. We had set patrol times to see what our physical plant looked like. This included the exterior of the building, the parking lot, signage, the refuse area, as well as the obvious points of access like the dining room, restrooms and lobby areas. Sometimes it was as simple as noticing that exterior signage wasn’t lit and most often the solution was to update the timer to accommodate seasonal changes in sunset and sunrise. After all, an unlit sign could mean many things to a customer, including a shop closed for the day.

I was recently reminded of this when I went used one of my favourite fast food drive through lanes. While I was waiting for my order, I had plenty of time to glance through the glass at the pickup window. What I saw was the side of a beverage machine that was not very clean. There were visible brown residual stains streaking down the exterior of the machine along with a partial view of a very soiled “Out of Order” sign. This of course begets the question, what does the remaining back of the house that I cannot see look like? Is it poorly maintained and unclean as well? When was the last time the shop manager took a look through the same window.

It is not always easy to get this outside perspective from the inside. Sometimes a good mystery shopping program will help you catch these defects, but usually a structured process for a frequent walk about will do quite well.

Really, though, the point I want to drive home is that marketing message created and the brand conversation enabled by this customer viewpoint is not the kind of dialogue that is healthy for your brand. It may be one small negative message that gets tucked into the recess of the customer’s mind. If there is another negative encounter the customer’s internal dialogue will attach the two experiences together, creating a more significant brand image.

So, who is responsible for this marketing message? Is it the cleaning crew, the shift leader, the shop manager, or the regional operations person? Developing a consistent and positive brand message can be as simple as empowering everyone in the organization to have marketing sense. In this case a first step would be using this as a learning opportunity by sharing the issue internally and having a discussion about the message this type of image conveys about the brand.

Willis Turner, CAE CME CSE, is an association management professional, speaker and author. Willis is the President & CEO of Sales & Marketing Executives International, the worldwide professional association for sales and marketing, established in 1935.



Everyone is a marketer. That is a simple statement and we’ll set out to show you how the brand conversation is impacted both internally and externally by individual expressions about your brand.

Just like customer centric organizations have evolved to make customer service everyone’s job, organizations can create a stronger brand by simplifying the marketing conversation internally and externally and enable everyone to become a marketing evangelist. Hence, everyone markets.

Whether you work for a large multi-national organization or you are primarily focused on your own personal brand in the marketplace, let’s have a conversation about the many influences on how your brand is perceived.

I look forward to your participation!

Willis Turner