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Consider the source – ALWAYS consider the source!

Here’s a quick tip, which can help you avoid wasting your time and your money.  It’s based around just 3 words: Consider the source.

Consider the source

Much of the information out there, particularly business related information, is biased.  As a result, a lot of people have either bought something they don’t need or they are paying for a service they get little if any real value from.  They bought into a sales message, often because they didn’t consider the source or realise how biased it was.

It’s not a case of people deliberately misleading us, pretending their products or services are just what we need when they are not.  In many cases, probably most cases, people genuinely believe that what they are recommending to us is the answer to our problems.  The thing is, they are often wrong and if we act on their recommendations without considering the source, we pay the price.

Consider the source: The problem with hammers

Abraham Maslow said:

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

Maslow’s point, was that people who are incomplete in their knowledge of solutions, propose the same type of answer to every problem they encounter.  So, if they are a keen user of a marketing tool which works for them, they will often believe that it is an essential investment for everyone in business.

An extremely common example of this kind of hammer and nail thinking is the way email marketing software is marketed. Yes, email marketing software, such as auto-responders, do have their place and for some people, they can be great; but unless you consider the source, you’d think you needed it, when you might be far better off using something more akin to your needs.

For instance, I don’t use email marketing software or email auto-responder services and I don’t write an email newsletter – Yet I have a rapidly growing email subscriber list of thousands.  Marketing genius Seth Godin, no longer offers an email newsletter either!  Why?  Because he doesn’t need to and neither do I.

We blog regularly and get emails in front of prospective clients all the time, because (in my case) over 65% of my readers receive this blog via email.  I simply use a free Feedburner account, which allows me to deliver these blog posts, via email, to anyone who selects it; using that orange box on the top right of my blog.  If I have something I want to promote, I don’t need to send anyone marketing emails.  I simply share it here on the blog and it will arrive, at a set time, in thousands of inboxes.  It works REALLY well and helped me sell almost £130,000 in services and products last year.

I recommend email marketing to many of my clients and my point here is certainly not to bash it.  As some of you may know, I once wrote a very popular marketing newsletter, which was extremely successful.  I’m simply using the way email marketing software and services are marketed as an example.  The exact same point could have been made using; networking groups, newspaper and magazine advertising, mailing lists, blogging, pay-per-click and just about every other form of marketing.

So, before you decide to part with your hard earned money, or act on some free advice, always consider the source.  Is the person being paid to promote a certain marketing tool?  Are they knowledgeable enough about marketing, to be able to give you the right advice?

The bottom line: When you consider the source, you get a fer better insight as to the quality and accuracy of the information.

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Photo: Pete Simon

About Jim Connolly: I help small business owners grow their business, make more sales and boost their profits. To see how I can help you and your business, read this.

5 Comments

  1. A very interesting article Jim, and it ties in nicely with your post from a couple of days ago about who is influencing you.
    It is hard to qualify web sources and find out exactly what the author’s intentions and motives are, but that’s part of the business game I guess.
    I love the hammer and nail analogy!

    • Hi Tom. You make a good point. In some cases it’s obvious, like yesterday when I received a comment telling me to use video – From a guy who works in video blogging.

      Other times it’s less obvious. With the email marketing example I mentioned in the post, you often see people who are affiliates of these programs pushing them.

      A little research can really throw a lot of light on why someone is passionately advocating something.

  2. Very timely Jim. I got caught by someone on LinkedIn yesterday who started a ‘discussion’ by linking to an ‘informative’ video which was produced by a company he just happens to be a re-seller for.
    After a couple of exchanges I twigged and called him on it at which point he got very shirty and declared “this conversation is over” :)

  3. Leanne Hoagland-Smith

    December 29, 2011 at 19:11

    Your post is timely. Buyer beware seems to be the philosophy behind many experts. And some buyers actually do their due diligence and are still scammed.

    What continues to annoy me is the number of experts who provide bad advice and take advantage of their clients. There is a lot of malpractice happening within the service industry not to mention the self promotion. Some of these less than forthright individuals are certified through a plethora of institutions. One reason I am not a fan of most certification processes.

    By the way, I particularly enjoyed reading was your use of Maslow’s quote as I had written in my blog in mid December about sales problems being nails. Thanks for your insight.

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