"You're too negative ..." "No, I'm extremely realistic."
Being smart doesn't prevent stupid decisions, but critical thinking does. Be an amiable skeptic: treat your beliefs as hypotheses to be tested, and refine them based on evidence.
— Adam Grant
In the movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Harry discovers the Mirror of Erised. Seeing his deceased parents reflected, Harry becomes captivated by the mirror. He is cautioned by Albus Dumbledore, who says, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."
Dumbledore explains to Harry that, "The happiest man on Earth would look into the mirror and see only himself, exactly as he is."
What does Harry Potter have to do with marketing? Turns out plenty, especially if you're focused on the wrong numbers.
As marketers it is extremely easy to be captivated by the wrong metrics. We might congratulate ourselves for delivering 100,000 daily site visitors. If this is a good number for you, it might even feel great.
But what happens when we strip out bounced sessions, single session visitors, geos that don't generate revenue? What happens when our 100K is actually 15K?
Depressing, right? Nope. A "realistic optimist" will happily accept this reality. She is likely to simply say, "we are where we are." She'll be curious about why this is the state. She'll focus on what she needs to do to fix it, or, even whether it needs to be fixed at all. (It does.) She will look how she optimizes for those 15K returning visitors. How she reduces the bounce rate. How she gets single session visitors returning to the site.
Marketers who are realistic about their circumstances, and optimistic that they can change them, will always out perform those who become transfixed by an illusory top-line number.
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