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If You Can’t Beat Them, Shame Them! 3 Ways to Use Shame to Get Things Done

June 7, 2010

We’ve all been there… When all the signs are pointing to something that *must* be done to make business better, or something that is so blaringly wrong that needs to get fixed. But somehow the message isn’t being heard, or it gets stuck somewhere up the chain of command, and no matter how hard you try you can’t seem to get the support you need to make things right.

Maybe you need to start selling your products online but you can’t get the time of day when it comes to getting it on people’s roadmaps. Or maybe you work in a remote office and your colleagues sitting in their comfy headquarters 5,000 miles away won’t admit there’s a problem just because your search results aren’t localized, or worse still you’re not even appearing in the local engines.

When you find yourself in this situation (and hopefully it isn’t too often), the answer is always shame.

Here’s 3 ways you can use shame to get things done:

1. Shame them with examples of companies who are succeeding where you are not

If you find yourself faced with the poor excuse that “We can’t do that because it just won’t work for us” then find examples from similar industries where it has worked.

As an example, maybe you are trying to get your company to start selling products online and are told that E-commerce won’t work for expensive B2B products. Try and find out the proportion of business other similar companies conduct online vs. offline. I’m sure big technology companies like IBM wouldn’t have an online store if it didn’t reap the rewards from it. Do your research and work your network to get the information you need.

2. Shame them by comparing your performance against your competitors

If there’s one thing I know about sales and marketing people is that we are damn competitive. There are examples everywhere of companies taking cheap jabs at their competitors just to make internal folks feel better about themselves – be it through some side-by-side video that demonstrates competitor shortcomings (no matter how obscure they may be), or by sponsoring competitor keywords in PPC.

Of course we should know better and focus efforts on our customers not competitors. Unfortunately it doesn’t always turn out that way as the thought of your competitors doing better than you has a way of making people’s blood boil. 

Take search for example. If you are a global company then you need to be optimized on a global scale, which also means having a presence locally. If you’re not getting the support you think you deserve on a local level, then document your rank for important keywords vs. your competitors in the local engines and/or in local language. Then start to estimate your lost impressions (awareness), traffic (clicks), conversions (leads, sales) as a result of not being there. This leads nicely into the final shame…

3. Shame them with data and missed profit opportunity

“An ounce of data is worth a pound of opinion” (via @avinashkaushik). Always back up your point with data – people will always express an opinion, but no-one can argue with numbers and facts. 

Probably the most effective way to shame people is by using data to show exactly what you are losing out on as a result of not doing something. Gap analysis is just one good way of simply presenting shortcomings. Tying things back to the bottom line is always the ideal, but in instances where this may not be possible, then use data around lead counts or other conversion events that contribute towards a sale.

From → Search Marketing

One Comment
  1. Shame is a pretty sweet tool set.

    Asian parents do a pretty good job with it– I’d assume people in key strategic positions could yield similar, effective results :p

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