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She canna take anymore, Captain

She canna take any more, Captain

How do you know your marketing is working?  Well, if you’re sensible, you’ll hopefully be monitoring it to see what works by talking to your clients that have come on board.   

 Because once you know what’s working well, you can just crack on and do more of those things, right? That feels like a logical approach and makes sense.   

But that misses a trick 

The Americans did the same in WW2. Not with marketing but with their bombers.  As each bomber returned to base after a mission, they were checked for damage and the results reported back to the designers.  

They then spent time reinforcing all the areas with the most bullet holes.   And it seemed to be working well – to a point. 

But one guy, Abraham Wald, started asking a few more questions.  Abraham was a Hungarian statistician who had fled from Austria when it was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938. He emigrated to the States and got a job at Columbia University where his role was to analyse data and in particular, try and reduce the damage to Bombers as part of the war effort. 

He realized that they were missing a trick. 

So he went to the military and said, “you’re looking at the areas that have sustained the most damage, and reinforcing them, right?  But what about the areas that haven’t sustained much damage?”   

And the military guys replied, “well, we don’t reinforce those – there’s no point because they aren’t getting shot at.”  

Abraham then asked, “but what about the planes that never make it back to base?  What if the reason they aren’t returning is because they’ve been shot in the areas that we haven’t reinforced?  Maybe those are the most vulnerable parts of the plane, and that’s why they never make it back. 

You also need to find out which bits aren’t going well 

Abraham had a point.  They were only getting half the story.  

By only analysing the planes that had survived, they were simply reinforcing the areas of the planes that were already doing what they needed to do well enough to get the plane home.  To really protect their fleet, they also needed to find out what wasn’t working. 

So, they changed tack and began reinforcing the areas of the planes that didn’t seem to be coming back with damage.  And guess what?  More and more planes started to make it back to base. 

What about the clients that didn’t come on board?

Back to your marketing.   

If you’re only talking to the clients who are already onboard, you’re only finding out what already works.  You’re only getting half the story.   

But what about the clients who didn’t engage with you?  Did something put them off?  Was there maybe one simple thing that you said, or did?   

Stop doing the things that turn potential clients away 

Yes, it’s great to focus on what works and then do more of those things.  But more importantly, find out what’s not working – and then stop doing those things.  Because just think how many more clients you could have if you identified those issues and addressed them.   

If you don’t explore the things that aren’t working, you’re stopping potential clients from choosing you – and your business. 

And that’s the end of the story.  It was also the end of Abraham Wald – he sadly died in 1950. In a plane crash. 

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