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The Lessons of the Mechanic

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I’ve come to the conclusion that my relationship with my mechanic is dysfunctional.

How many times have I stood in front of him, and let him continue speaking long after I’ve lost track of what he’s talking about? At first, I try to ask questions, but I inevitably get lost in the details. In the end, I usually pretend to understand – partly so as not to look like a total idiot, and partly just to get him to stop talking. Ultimately, he does whatever he thinks, and charges me whatever he wants.

But today I realized that I have this exact relationship with many clients.

How many times have I sat with clients as they tell me how clear they are on their messaging? Of course, it’s obvious. The benefits of the product are quite clear. Well, no, they’ve never really sat down and written down their messages, but they know them. No, they haven’t thoroughly compared their offering to the competition – because there really isn’t anything competing with this wonderful product. And OK, no, they haven’t checked that what they think is in-line with what the other decision makers in the organization think. And no, no analysts or industry thinkers actually cover their particular niche because it’s so innovative, you see? But aside from all that, what needs to be said is really quite clear. And all I have to do is put it into words.

Thus, our roles are defined as customer (the client) and mechanic (me).

Because by NOT providing me with a real marketing plan, clear and detailed analysis of your target audiences, clearly-defined and segmented messages, and a detailed matrix of advantages – you’re taking it on faith that I’ll stick things together with wire and glue to create viable and effective collateral that goes when you step on the gas pedal.

Now, I trust my mechanic. I do. Which is a good thing, because there really is no hope that I will ever understand my car as well as he does. But marketing is not automotive repair. And if you give me the right tools, you will infallibly get better, more effective results.

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