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What Oscar Wilde Can Teach Marketers About What We Think We Know

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I can’t remember how long ago it was, and I want to say it was Steve Wright from Jay Peak that shared it, but I came across this quote from Oscar Wilde:

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”

For a guy that died in 1900, this quote rings amazingly true for our opinion and information saturated society of 2012. While it may be directed more at personal attitudes, I think it is especially insightful when I comes to marketing.

I hope you’ll forgive me for waxing thoughtful on a single line from literature, but it’s another one of those times where dots that have been racing through my brain, searching for connections, finally found a nucleus in this idea.

My Big Worry
For many marketers, I worry that their belief in principles and “best practices” are based solely on what they’ve read in articles (like this one), heard at conferences, and been told by consultants. That’s a great jumping off point to begin testing them in your own “labs”, but it’s not the end of the road.

Now, I think I’ve always had this natural desire to challenge findings and come to my own conclusions with my marketing tactics. Let me give a few examples.

I used to do a lot of SEO work for small businesses. When one client asked for some advice on SEO news sites to read to keep up on trends, i didn’t have an answer. My SEO strategy came from managing dozens of sites, trying hundreds of tactics (some more kosher than others), meticulously recording resulting changes in rankings, and then checking the Google guidelines to make sure my new found “tactics” were cool with them.

When I approached a new client, I didn’t quote SEOMOZ’s data, I had my very own set of data to back up my not-so-hip tactics they were about to roll their eyes at.

Trust Seals/Logos
When I wanted to find out if trust symbols actually helped conversion rates like a marketing peer was claiming, I went way overboard and built a service around a “Spam Free” trust seal that I stuck on tons of sites and gathered a big pile of data about. Turns out, they did work. Really, really well. A while later I sold the site for a few bucks but was left with some valuable marketing lessons.

When I built a new site, trust seals weren’t there to just look good, I used them because I knew they would increase conversions.

Email Personalization
You may have noticed in a post a few weeks ago that I mentioned a split test I did on one of my own projects to confirm trends I was seeing in email personlization performance. I ran the test, got my own numbers, and confirmed the trend.

Using personalization isn’t a “fun idea” to me now, it’s a proven way to increase the relevancy of a message.

Facebook Connect
As I started exploring the uses of Facebook Connect earlier this year, an obvious use was as an alternative to filling out an opt-in form. So, I added it to a form on a side project and started gather data. It’s still running so I don’t have any conclusions to draw yet, but I’ll know soon.

Heck, I even split test a long sign up form vs a short one (4 fewer fields) on Social7 because I saw some debate on that. The result? The short form converted almost twice as well!

I’m Not the Best Marketer
I am not the best marketing in world. I’ve known that for a long time. You know that about me as well. But what I know about my marketing, I KNOW. I don’t believe it because a famous blogger said it was true. I don’t trust it because a guy at a conference said so.

This means that I don’t always have catchy answers for everything, but when I talk about a marketing principle, you can know I believe it because I’ve seen it work.

I don’t know about you, but that feels like a pretty good position to be in.

Enough About Me
I’m sorry this has been so much about me, but the point I am getting to is actually about you. I proved my marketing principles with data sets 1/100 the size of what your resort has. If you will step back and be honest about why you believe certain marketing tactics work, I think you’ll find a long, exciting list of ideas to test.

You probably already have the data you need to answer half of them.

Then, next time you run a promotion, you won’t hope it will work. You’ll know. See what I mean about powerful?

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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