Many different factors can play a role in declining or stalling revenues, and one of the easiest to fix and yet hardest to admit is how much is due to a self-inflicted wound stemming from arrogance, ego and stubbornness. Sometimes the creativity of marketing and branding professionals can go awry. Here are three fixable mistakes branding and marketing leaders make that cost time and money.
1. Trying To Outsmart The Customer
In 2013, BlackBerry reported a $4.4 billion loss for its third quarter sales. The company took six years to design and launch a less expensive phone with apps and a powerful operating system. This allowed Apple and Android to gain significant ground in the meantime.
“The problem wasn’t that we stopped listening to customers,” a BlackBerry insider said. “We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did."
The solution lies in understanding human behavior in response to certain factors. Many companies now have "human factor professionals" who study how a new product will be accepted by the user it’s designed for. However, not all companies put the necessary time and effort into hiring someone to help determine the interests and desires of their consumer base, and they instead allow the ego to get in the way. This detrimentally affects sales and can cause an entire company to fail.
Organizations should use the various social media available to learn what consumers are asking for and then follow up with input from consumers. Feedback is crucial and more available than ever with today's technology. Companies that truly take the advice of their consumers in what they want tend to have greater success.
2. Trying To Be The MVP
Brandon Black and Shayne Hughes, authors of Ego Free Leadership: Ending the Unconscious Habits that Hijack Your Business, conducted extensive research to determine mistakes companies make when valuing their own genius over their customers’ preferences. Hughes describes working with a CEO “who was frustrated at not being able to hire strong senior leaders. He realized that his ego wanted to be the guy with the answers, so he never hired anyone who was smarter than he was.”
Almost any company can course-correct with sound leadership. When leaders take the time to listen to their team, they will gain insight they wouldn’t have thought of themselves. When executives take the spotlight of self and share it with others, it serves the entire company well. And team leaders who allow mistakes and build their team up as future leaders tend to raise companies where morale and loyalty are high.
3. Refusing To Change With Market Trends
According to Pearson, increasing sales and gaining popularity in your sector “becomes more complex as technology changes and the world becomes more advanced." Blockbuster really felt the sting of that mistake when it discounted the popularity of Netflix and Redbox.
Blockbuster ignored the signs as customers' behavior let Blockbuster know they were ready to advance with the new technology. Instead of joining the technology age that was advancing, it tried to entice customers with trinkets and sweets, becoming more like a convenience store than a video rental. It was given plenty of input from consumers themselves about what they wanted, yet the retailer failed to listen and filed bankruptcy less than one year later.
Ego doesn’t have to bring a company down as long as leaders understand that their market position isn't bulletproof. Resources like entrepreneur and educator John Assaraf's learning materials, which focus on helping people retrain their neural pathways, and Hughes' and Black's valuable insights shared in their book, can help branding professionals learn how to check their egos and grow their companies' success.
Chiefly, leaders must take into consideration what consumers are expressing as important. While giving in to every fad and trend isn’t necessary or even plausible, doing one’s own research on how a specific trend could impact your product is essential. When customers speak, successful businesses listen and then act appropriately.