Marketing – Just Say No! (to a bad idea)

So… You’ve had a staff meeting and the sales team has come up with a great publicity stunt. They’ve decided to hire a helicopter and drop company pamphlets over everyone watching the next college football game. “Just think of the press”, they exclaim. ” We’ll have every newswire in the country covering the story.” No doubt! But will you have a company left by Monday morning.

You of course know this is an insane idea which will cause much more harm to your firm than anything you could imagine, but the company President, management team and even the Board of Directors all think it’s a wonderful idea. What will the marketing division do? My advice? Just say NO!

Sometimes the marketing division has to stand up for itself. It’s easy to be a “Yes” person and take every idea, no matter how crazy and nod your head. “Sure, we can do that.” Saying no on the other hand, can bring tension, accusations that you’re not a “team player” and produce many other negative collateral results, such as a lack of faith from management. Weighing all the negative factors might make it much easier to take the path of least resistance and simply agree to the crazy suggestion, but let’s look at some potential long term negative effects your decision could reap upon you and your company:

  1. Who will get the blame when the campaign does not produce the desired results?

    You will. No one will remember or even care who’s idea it was in the first place. All they will care about is finding someone to blame and the first place they will look is inside your office door. Sad but true. It’s the person who actually put the plan into action who’ll suffer the consequences.

  2. Who gets to clean up the garbage and do all the damage control? Who gets to put out all the fires and scramble the troops in an attempt to minimize the negative fallout? Yup… You again. Better cancel your holidays in advance.
  3. What kind of message are you sending to your customers? You’ve spend hard earned time and money on getting just the right message and feel out there and into your clients eyes and heads. Now you’re on the verge of changing those key messages one hundred and eighty degrees. The perception your clients have about your company may now be open for reevaluation. When something negative occurs, even the most staunch and loyal supporters are forced into bringing you to the forefront within their mind’s eye and reevaluating their relationship. Once this happens, all your past hard work and positive marketing can be washed away in the blink of an eye. You’ve suddenly opened a Pandora’s box of doubt. Rebuilding Client trust could take months – if you survive that long, and it’s a long uphill trek just to get back to the starting point. Building client and brand loyalty can take months. Destroying it can take a lot less. Just ask Firestone or Enron.
  4. The end results of a bad decision can haunt you for years.

Not a pretty picture so far. This is exactly why you have to stick to your guns and say -NO- to a bad idea.

To combat the inevitable pressure to say ‘yes,’ remember who you are and why you’re in you’re position. Anyone can be a ‘yes’ person but you’re not just anyone. You’re opinion is valuable to the company. Your past marketing efforts have shown positive results, thus your judgment and opinions deserve respect. You also tend to look at the bigger picture, taking into consideration long term effects. Most people cannot or do not take these aspects into consideration. They only see the short term scenario, the big Flash. Your ability to look at a scenario from several angles at once also make your skill-set a valuable commodity. Granted, no one can predict every possible outcome for a specific event but you’re ability to inject common sense into your thought process already sets you apart from ninety percent of the population. This skill is invaluable in today’s world.

You also look (or should be) looking at things from a moral perspective. Will this event offend anyone and if so, is it worth it? Can you control all aspects? You can bet the sales team never even considered this point. One other point you should be asking yourself, (and for me personally, this is the big one) can I live with myself if this plan is put into action? I’m not trying to be facetious. All the hardcore ruthless business people in the world may disagree with me on this point, weaned on the dog-eat-dog school of business, but one thing is for certain, I’m not them and my company is not guided by their rules. It is guided by my own actions and belief systems. I stand by my convictions and will scream and holler to uphold them within the company structure. They may not always be agreed with but they are presented nonetheless.

Life is too short to have your conscience eating away at you because of a bad marketing decision. Be certain you’ll be able to live with yourself once the decision is made. Don’t agree to it for the wrong reasons. You are ultimately going to be responsible for the fallout, so trust your judgment and fight like heck to make your opinions heard, especially when don’t agree with something.

Just say NO to a bad idea. It’s a lot easier than you think. In the long run your company may even thank you for your foresight. Oh yeah… Make sure you cancel that helicopter ASAP.