A key question: What’s next?
Gregory talked to me about a lesson he learned in his early days of selling advertising. “In one of my first presentations, the prospect rejected my ideas for a new campaign. Back at the office, my ad manager must have noticed the stunned look on my face. When I told her what happened she didn’t want to know the gruesome details. She just asked, ‘Okay, so what’s next?’
“That turned out to be great advice. I sat there and gave myself a good talking-to. Nothing could change the fact that my sales presentation had fallen flat. But what I could change was my approach to that reality. Instead of giving up on that new business prospect, I dove back into my notes, reflected on our conversation during my presentation, and developed another campaign proposal. The new ideas were accepted, and I’m happy to say that company became a consistent advertiser.
“What I learned is that it’s important to look ahead,” Gregory said. “Think beyond what is happening right now and be ready to change directions.”
Gregory’s story reminds me of an old Bob Hope line in a movie I saw on TV: “All I’ve gotta do now is figure out what I’m gonna do now.” If we look beyond the double-talk of that gag, we’ll see some real truth. Our biggest challenge is often figuring out what to do next.
In fact, I believe one of the most important business questions we can ask is, “What’s next?” These two little words represent a deliberate focus on the future. This is especially true in a profession like marketing, which demands constant evaluation and adjustment. Considering the current situation as a new starting point, what’s the next step? If we expect to make any progress at all, there should always be another step.
Let’s say you make a big sale. I heartily recommend that you celebrate your success and share the glory with your teammates. But after the high fives at the goal line, it’s not a good idea to camp out for a long time in the end zone. Things will not stay like that forever. The game goes on. There’s a next step.
What if consumers don’t respond to the current offer being made in an advertiser’s ads? Do you keep running the offer again and again, hoping that something will change on its own? Or do you analyze the plan and make some adjustments?
If you’re a manager who notices that morale in your department is sagging, what can you do to make things better? (Please don’t say, “team building activity.”) Do you hope the situation will go away “when the economy improves?” Or do you take the initiative with a little inter-department research to get to know your team as individuals? Let them help you determine the next step.
It’s not complicated. It’s simply a matter of evaluating the current situation and asking yourself, “What’s next?” Keep answering that question and you’re on your way.
(c) Copyright 2020 by John Foust. All rights reserved.
John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information: firstname.lastname@example.org