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In Praise of the Obvious

by Hank Barnes  |  January 22, 2019  |  Submit a Comment

One of my favorite early marketing books was from Jack Trout, “In Search of the Obvious.” It, and the importance of the concept was brought back to me by a series of articles/blog posts I read at the beginning of this year:

All of these basically bring back to the same idea.  It is usually obvious what we should be doing, but we tend to avoid the obvious and make things complicated when they don’t need to be. (Yes, not everything is obvious and uncomplicated, but in most situations, there is an obvious answer or option staring us right in the face.)

Beyond these, and before these, I read the article that steered my brain in this direction.  Its from Farnam Street: “How Not to Be Stupid.”  It is a brilliant article framing a discussion between Shawn Parrish (Farnam  Street) and Adam Robinson.   The article discusses stupidity and Robinson defined it as “overlooking or dismissing conspicuously crucial information.”

Yep, ignoring the obvious.  The important obvious.

Source: (James Pond @lamppidotco)

Source: (James Pond @lamppidotco)

How can you be more successful with clients.  Make crucial information conspicuous.  Be obvious.

With your brain looking for the obvious, you think differently.  You read things with a different eye.  You look a little closer when you think something is important.  You wonder why people bury their story in generalities.  And you look for the obvious in what you do.

There are two kinds of compliments I get from clients that I really appreciate.  The first is when they tell me that my research provides clarity and context for what they deal with every day in their experience working with prospects and customers.   It’s obvious, but the data helps them make the case for change with others.

The second is when we work together on storytelling and clients tell me the stories I suggest are much clearer and much more compelling than what they start with.  I think it is because of practice, structure, and a search for the obvious.     Invariably, it is there, but for some reason, we (marketing and sales) feel like we need to hide behind hyperbole, flood with features, and emulate others (if we want to be different, why try to be the same?).

I don’t believe in resolutions, but I do feel you, really all of us, should strive in 2019 to be more obvious and to look for, and pay attention to. the obvious stuff (conspicuously critical information).

It will help you not be stupid.  And help your customers not be stupid.

And, it’s easier.

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Category: go-to-market  

Tags: messaging  strategy  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

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