I recently moved to Charlotte, and I've trained in some variation of martial arts for much of my life. You would think this would make me into a Chuck Norris like killing machine, and you would be terribly wrong. This blog comes from my (somewhat fruitless) struggle to find a martial arts school I want to train in.
One of the wisest pieces of advice I ever heard was:
"Practice dosn't make perfect- it only makes permanent.
Practice with Feedback can make perfect. "
Many systems of martial arts are taught using "Kata" or forms- And this is how Asian martial arts have been passed down for thousands of years. You learn the Kata, you learn the martial art.
Here's the problem.
I trained enough in martial arts without any significant forms- (Akido, Ju-Jitsu, Kickboxing & Boxing) to realize that the form prevents immediate feedback. It prevents, oddly enough, learning, adaptation and the incorporation of 'better'.
I learned more about how to throw a punch fast, hard and accurately ,hitting hand targets, in just a few months than I did in years of Tae Kwon Do doing forms. When I was doing forms, there were a thousand small actions I never learned to do because I wasn't hitting a target. I was going through motions... motions that were un-challenged. Motions that were not a best way to kick, punch or block.
Because I wasn't getting feedback.
Because the style wasn't getting feedback.
"Practice doesn't make perfect- it only makes permanent. "
Unlearning, by the way, sucks. But unlearning is how we can, and do, advance.
Consider this - In the area of mixed martial arts tournaments (UFC and the like), it is almost a requirement for someone who wants to be a serious competitor to at least know a fair amount of Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. Why?
There are many reasons, but Brazillian Ju-Jitsu, perhaps more than any martial art, gets, gives and utilizes instant feedback.
So, this is a marketing blog, and I'm assuming you want me to get to the point- and I do have one that is highly business & marketing related:
Are you holding your marketing and business practices accountable?
Are you accepting open, objective and testable feedback?
Here are 5 best practices to consider implementing in order to get effective feedback to improving your marketing mastery:
1) Tracking phone numbers on all marketing campaigns - When you ask "Where did you call me from" or almost any similar question- up to 40% of callers will give you incorrect information. (Yes, I've tested that many times: the result is almost always a 25-40% discrepancy).
2) Win/Loss calls- Having an outside agency contact prospects you had given formal proposals to to get direct feedback on why/why not they chose your service gives you much better feedback than "I think we lost the sale because..." If it's because your competition really did beat your price by $0.10 on a $17,000 project, well, ok then! (Yes, I've heard a salesperson give that as the reason they lost the sale. Not because he was an hour late to the appointment and made some unprofessional comments during the sales call as the Win/Loss call revealed).
3) Salesperson Win/loss charts. Public feedback is good for everyone when it is 100% factual. Opportunities, sales, referrals generated and up to 2 other metrics are worth sharing- especially if you have more than 3 people in a sales function.
4) Marketing Dashboard: Yes, same thing for the marketing department- ROI, Marketing Calendars, Leads generated, sales generated and referrals generated are all contenders for any marketing dashboard.
5) Website Dashboard: You should definitely have Google Analytics installed. If you don't, download this guide and install it now. This post will be here when you get back. You should be tracking specifically- unique website hits - bounces, time on site, conversions and total pages viewed. Focus a goal of only moving 1 metric per month (others will almost definitely change, but good goals matter).
Yes- if you have vendors, setting realistic goals with them is important and so is reviewing monthly progress based on achievement of those goals.
Without feedback, we make habits permanent, not better.