Marketing Tips: Preventing the Dreaded Marketing Retrospect Face-Palm

Feb 24, 2020

Your Face and Your Palm Don't Need to Converge

Taking a step back from a project and taking a fresh look from a viewpoint as a blank slate can save you untold grief.

Have you ever been driving down the road and seen a billboard that was huge, highly visible, had decent design discipline and made absolutely no sense? If you have been in marketing for any length of time, the experience is all too frequent.

First there is the incredulous thought, “The the F were they thinking?” Then you realize that someone just dumped a lot of budget into something that is not going to pay off.

We seen them with disturbing frequency. These are the YMBFKM projects. We’ll leave you to fill in the acronym’s words, should be pretty easy to figure out.

All creative and marketing projects have a “retrospect” period. This is when we look back as professionals and wonder what were we thinking!

Once the failure starts to sink in, the excuses start:

  • We should have spent more time reviewing options.
  • The client was in a hurry so we rushed.
  • No one could predict that people would react that way.

These are all pure BS. Aside from the fact that it is the marketer’s responsibility and not the client’s fault, they are BS because they are all preventable.

The most common error is actually failing to look at the final material from the viewpoint of the uniformed observer.

The Importance of the Uninformed

You know all about the product or service—or you should if you are doing your job correctly. So does your client. But the response you are depending on for success will come (you hope) from people who are not informed and don’t know what you know.

It does not matter how clever, creative or brilliant your campaign ideas are if the people who need to react to them don’t. Or worse, react in the negative.

Perception is Reality

Whose reality? What you and your client see as informed people and what your potential customers see as uninformed people can diverge wildly. It does not matter how clearly you see the benefits, features and overarching excellence of your product. If the buying public does not see it you are lost. No sale.

How do you gauge what their reaction is going to be if you haven’t launched yet? How do you prevent wasting a lot of funds on print, billboards, postage, etc.

Surveying is one way of approaching this hazard. But you should have already done surveys by this stage. Now you’ve got a bunch of creative and you feel like you’re all ready to go. What do you do?

The Walk-Away

Save your files. Close them. Walk away from the project and do something completely different.

This actually important works. You’ve got to get some space between you and the project. And then take a fresh look.

But, your fresh look has to be somebody else’s. This doesn’t mean you need set up a focus group or something, but you need a fresh viewpoint. And you can furnish it.

Look at your project from the idea that you don’t know anything about it. Play dumb. Look at your creative and your messages and see what they say to you now.

What is your instant reaction? This test alone can save you fortunes and prevent huge, embarrassing disasters.

Show a few other uninformed people. See how they react. These fast tests will tell the tale.

You either did a fine job and should launch or head back to the layout board or anything in between.

This way you can keep your palm from smacking into your face.


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