Know what the shot is

“You want to learn the first rule you’d know if you’d ever spent a day in your life? You never open your mouth ‘til you know what the shot is.” –  Ricky Roma, Glengarry Glen Ross

Only three questions matter in marketing – Do you love me? Do you hate me? Why?

Knowing why you’re loved or loathed is critical to identifying your position in the worlds of the marketplace and the media. I ask my clients to conduct an inventory of their brand assets and liabilities to develop a savvy marketing/communications plan.

The strategy is this: You have to know where you are if you want to know where to go.

If you want a long-term relationship with a targeted market share, you can’t dodge tough questions that rock your world. Ask people why they love you or hate you head on. Testimonials prove your worth and credibility. If you can’t find a single person to boast about what you do, you need a marketing intervention.

On the other hand, if you have more than 20 people stalking you with their love, ask them why they love you so much. Harness their passion with a direct request for a two-paragraph testimonial. Keep it short. Ask for a valentine, not a sonnet. Don’t be greedy.

Not knowing why you are loved is just as bad as not knowing why you are loathed. We dig deep for this kind of intelligence when it comes to our egos, dates, marriages and holiday dinners. It’s human nature to want to be validated. But we don’t always do it for our business or our politics.

Clients are typically happy to brag and tell you why they’re loved. Yet when you ask them to go out and grab testimonials to prove it, they  shrink like a chubby at Weight Watchers. Weigh in on reality to inform your goals, strategies, tactics and plans. Any brand manager will tell you that you are only as good as your testimonials and brand ambassadors.

Every candidate or company who looked at a poll or focus group knows this. It’s tough love. But there’s only one thing worse than bad feedback: flying blind. Al Pacino explains the foundation of all marketing in Glengarry Glen Ross: Never open your mouth ‘til you know what the shot is.

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