Your marketing is not a function of your ego.

I once opened a presentation to a client with “Your opinion on marketing doesn’t matter.”

The meeting actually ended up going really well.

See I actually meant what I said. I was working with a decent sized and well funded startup helping them figure out analytics and paid media. Along with their CMO we spent weeks running tests into different potential customer verticals guided by the qualitative parts of marketing. We did the interviews, we made the archetypes, we knew “who” needed our product.

We knew that the qualitative only gets you so far.

In the words of Justin Trudeau it’s “CURRENT YEAR” and there isn’t an excuse to not be a data informed marketer.

So we began testing.

Proper A/B testing.

Isolating variables like audience, creative, calls to action, landing pages. Factor by factor in succession until we landed at a functioning funnel. A funnel that was getting us leads at 80% less than the industry average. A funnel that companies we kill for.

We sat down with the CEO, and while he was delighted he also was wondering if we’d overlooked a different platform where he was “pretty sure” the customer spent their time.

That’s when I dropped the bomb.

“You’re opinion on marketing doesn’t matter.”

Followed up quickly by “My opinion on marketing doesn’t matter either.”

You see vision is important. It’s not everything though.

Why? Data trumps instinct, and we had it.

I went on to explain exactly what we had here, how we could scale it, and why this was so important. In that moment he understood.

See I was intentionally inflammatory. Sometimes though being that direct though is necessary to change ingrained patterns of thought. The world of marketing isn’t the same as it was before. The old problem was a lack of data. The new problem, a topic I’ll cover later, is that there’s an overload of data. However, the point is that there is data. Data attached to every single marketing activity. Imperfect data granted, but data enough to lead in the right direction.

If you’re sitting around thinking about your marketing, who your customer is, and you have some data, start there. When you’re able to take the qualitative, that which you intuitively know, and marry it with the quantitative, that which can be proven with data, you end up with a marketing program that can truly break through the noise and create a real impact for your business.

To be successful you have to go both fast and slow.

I realize this is kind of a weird title, but hear me out. I’m doing my best with my blog, as opposed to my videos which are instructional or my podcast which is really about people, to sort of muse on marketing and business in general. My other content is primarily how to guides, but those can‘t be as effectively utilized without the proper context from where they came from and what they should be used for.

One thing I’ve found in business, especially in the startup community, is this focus on growth hacks and getting rich quick. No one makes their own product, they dropship (not that I have a problem with dropshipping, it’s a fine business model, but too many people treat it as a get rich quick scheme, which it isn’t.) Instead of building longstanding relationships with customers, they focus purely on acquisition. Instead of finding a sustainable business model, they maximize revenue and hope to get bought out before they go bankrupt. It seems like no one is in it for the long haul, they just want to retire to Ibiza by 35. Who cares if they built anything of lasting value?

I have bad news for the people who think you can just find a hyped up idea, muscle through, focus only on short term wins, and get out.

It doesn’t really work.

I mean practically speaking it does, just probably not for you. For most people the lust for gold, as it were, can’t motivate you enough, for long enough, to achieve any sort of real success. Maybe it can for a few months, or maybe even a year or two, but building a huge business with a massive exit that you can retire off of takes far far longer my friends.

That said, there are valid reasons to use these sort of hacks. Especially early on, you need to hit very aggressive revenue goals in order to build something that can sustain you, your employees, etc while you work on your long term play. That’s why when it comes to marketing you have to go fast and slow. When I market for a company I look to see how I can get them a handful of short term wins while building the sustainable machine that will give them success for years to come. They need to see that early win to know I’m not full of crap, but they also need to start working now on what will give them success in the long term.

Having the ability and the perspective to see both the long and short term, and create a marketing program that caters to both goals is really really hard. However, if you master it and break through, you’ll become the kind of unicorn marketer that can grow almost any sort of company, and can achieve the level of success you want. You just need to be both urgent with the tactics you can do today, and dedicate the resources to the strategies that will pay off 5 to 10 years down the road at the same time.