My favorite cognitive bias is called “déformation professionelle.” Basically, we see the world through our jobs.
It’s a bias I certainly have. I see everything through a marketing strategy lens.
Often, that just makes me a boring conversation partner. But, sometimes, it actually helps.
Because, as Blair Enns once wrote, “Making things and selling things are the two basic functions in business. For our business to succeed we must succeed at both.”
So it helps to see everything as a marketing problem because, for our business to succeed, we need to understand how our marketing works so we can sell things more effectively.
We need to know what our marketing should focus on, so we can measure it over time. If we keep changing it, if we keep adjusting every variable every time we market ourselves, we’ll never know what worked, and why. Or what didn’t work, and why not.
That’s one reason I believe, for the vast majority of businesses, their marketing should focus on one thing: reinforcing their marketing position.
Why? Because your position is what makes you less substitutable. Meaning, someone can’t just go next door—or make one click—and replace your product or service with something just as good, just as focused on their needs, just as conveniently, for just about the same price.
Instead, reinforcing your position is about making you the exclusive provider of something people truly want.
And it returns so much more on your advertising spend, because it helps increase your overall profitability.
This isn’t about a flash in the pan advertising gimmick, or using pure brand aesthetics to convince people to spend more.
It’s about focusing on just what you’re best at, and just what your best customers want most. So you can create a true difference between you and the competition that’s worth paying for.
And that’s why, beyond “déformation professionelle,” every decision actually is a marketing decision.
Because everything you do either reinforces or damages your marketing position.
Consider every element of your organization:
- Your company—who it hires, where it’s located, and how it markets itself
- How you choose your collaborators—the suppliers, vendors, technology, and businesses you depend on to operate
- The customers you choose to focus on and attract
- How you respond to your competitors’ actions in the market, and what you hope they’ll do in response to your actions
- And how you react to the overall context of the market—the economy, the political climate, the technological shifts
Your decisions in every one of those circumstances—and more—will either reinforce and amplify, or damage and downplay, your marketing position.
And it gets even more specific from there: What your product looks like. How it works. How your app performs. How fast you respond to customer service requests. How much you charge. The payment processor you choose.
And from there, your social media.
Your content strategy.
Your website’s design.
Each of these decisions either make you more or less like the image your best customers hold in their head. Each decision either makes your product or service more or less valuable to them.
It either makes you more or less differentiated from your competition.
And more or less focused on what you’re best at.
Every once in a while, it helps to see every decision as a marketing decision. Because that’s what builds a position.
And position builds profit.
And profit builds businesses that last.