You’ve probably heard this at some point in your life (my introduction came courtesy of my offensive line coach in high school):
Don’t ASSUME, it makes an ASS out of U and ME.
While not assuming what a defensive lineman is going to do on a particular play is way past the expiration date as relevant in my life; “don’t assume” is one of those phrases that sticks with you.
When you assume you know the answer and act on that assumption, you could get lucky and be right. You have a better chance of being right if you’re experienced or knowledgeable about whatever it is you’re making a decision about.
Because “assuming” sounds like you’re just guessing, most people who make decisions this way say they like to “go with their gut.”
Like your mystical gut is fantastic at decision-making when you’re likely just an arrogant asshole too lazy to do actual research.
Still, sometimes it does work when you have deep expertise about a subject. Sticking with football for a minute, you’ll hear about players making a great play because they “trusted their instincts.”
Sounds great, right?
The game-saving interception was made because “instincts.”
Assumptions. The gut.
What casual fans don’t get about football is the amount of study (most) of these guys do. They watch film. They spend hours looking for subtle, but crucial, “tells” about what their opponent is going to do. They research play-call tendencies by down and distance plus down and distance and where they are in the game. Hours of study and hundreds of hours over years of play all go into a player’s “instinctual” decision to drop deep coverage and make a beeline to the flat for that clutch interception.
Enough Duhon, where’s content marketing enter into it?
That assumption — that “gut” instinct decision — is based on thousands of hours of practice and knowledge.
At Some Point, We’re All Guessing
I’m going to get to the original point about assumptions in a moment; stick wit’ me.
I started this off with “Don’t assume.”
That’s not entirely true.
There are no guarantees in marketing.
You don’t know if your lovingly crafted marketing plan is going to take off like a rocket, sink like a “Led Zeppelin,” or hover somewhere in the middle.
You’re going to be assuming.
To be even more honest, you’re going to be guessing.
The trick is to make your assumptions and guesses based on as much knowledge as you can.
It’s not the assumption that makes an ASS out of U; it’s the assumptions U make based on ignorance because you’re too lazy to do the work. Of course, that is the definition of an assumption (well, one of a few — we aren’t talking about power or ascending to Heaven today). Mr. Webster:
3 a An assuming that something is true
Make As Educated a Guess As Possible!
I “may” have tipped my hand on this, but to make the best guess you can you’ve gotta do the research.
I’ll go into more detail in later posts, but here are a few methods that will allow you to sprinkle good data all over your ideas.
Web analytics. Google Analytics is a must. You need to understand what people are doing on your website. What’s your bounce rate? Where are visitors lingering?
Digging into your Web analytics will provide insight into topics that visitors are interested in reading. When you have a combo of high visits and time on page; those are topics you need to expand on.
Email statistics. This is obvious, but monitor for open rates relative to subject line, days of the week, time of day, etc.
Your Audience. Do the persona research and nail down who your ideal customers are. It’s only when you understand your customers that you’ll be able to effectively market to them.
There are plenty of other areas where you can uncover useful information, but those are three of the most important.
Stop Assuming, Start Marketing
You’ll never have every answer you want before you launch your next marketing campaign.
Discover as much as you can through research.
Launch campaigns and ebooks and emails and landing pages and CTAs and videos and et cetera and et cetera.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
You’ll no longer be assuming — you’ll be making a difference with your marketing.
About the Cheeky A-Z Guide to Content Marketing.
There are groaning shelves of books and whitepapers you can read about content and inbound marketing. What’s missing from (some) of them is the stuff between the cracks. The dirty, nuts and bolts examples of things that can go wrong and the random things that can go wonderfully well. I decided to run down the alphabet a letter at a time and highlight personal lessons learned from creating content for 25 years and from applying those content creation lessons to content marketing over the past decade-ish. I hope you enjoy.