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Ryan Leslie

Ryan Leslie VP of CarStory Strategic Partnerships

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The Harlem Shake of Decision Making: Confidence isn't Competence!

Imagine for a moment that you are sitting at your desk reviewing an average report on an average day. A heavy bass line starts pumping through your intercom. You look up to see a masked person hop on the hood of a car and start gyrating, head-bobbing and shaking uncontrollably in the middle of your showroom floor. As the initial shock wears off the music drops, and out of nowhere you see your entire organization joining in on the gyration! Random acts of crazy are going on all over the floor! It isn’t just the extroverts in your BDC either… Janet, your “tenured” title clerk that is too shy and reserved to say hello in the morning is doing a combination handstand/pelvic thrust against the wall, and only God and Rusty know what in the world Rusty your crankiest Technician is doing over there in the corner with that air tool… Wait, is that the Carfox? What on earth just happened?

Congrats! You’ve just survived the latest and greatest Internet Meme known as the Harlem Shake. Confused? Point your browser over to Youtube and search “Harlem Shake.” You will be more confused in just a minute, but at least you’ll begin to know WHY you are confused… ;) (Here is a great example of The Harlem Shake from the good folks at Fontana Nissan. AWESOME!) As interesting and fun as this new internet meme is I think we’d all agree that it isn’t a good model for managing the internal and external influences on your business, right? Would you be surprised to hear that there may be some striking similarities?

Some of the “Latest and Greatest” products and services and “New ways to think about old topics” are essentially the equivalent of a Harlem Shake Meme. Watch enough of the videos and you’ll see a consistent pattern in what appears to be total chaos. The character that starts the meme is always supremely confident, they’re certain that despite the craziness if they persist others will join them. Their confidence is persuasive! When it comes to business and marketing we must remember that it is very possible to be completely confident, and yet completely wrong!

NEW is NOT Bad! I’m not trying to convince you to put all your ad spend back in the Newspaper or become comfortable with the status quo. We are experiencing rapid technological changes and it is wise to keep a close eye on the wave of innovation. New tools and new strategies are constantly developed, but they almost invariably build on marketing or consumer behavior that is already well established. Take online reviews for example, they are quite simply a modern iteration of traditional Word of Mouth, already known the world over as a highly efficient and effective marketing tool. There isn’t anything new about an online review per se, except that it is consumed online.

LAST THOUGHT: Confidence isn’t the same as Competence! Expect a Vendor or consultant to be confident in their recommendations, but challenge them to produce credible evidence. We are all occasionally guilty of favoring our own thoughts and experiences more than we should in our decision making process.  A wise marketer must check the facts, ask for references, and above all QUESTION the confidence of those vying for their attention. It is also crucial to remove our own prejudice too which is often very hard to do. The best marketing decisions come through analysis of quality data, not instinct, personal experience, or confidence in an expected but unproven outcome.

I hope this lighthearted entry encourages you to resist the temptation of the marketing equivalent of the Harlem Shake. When the tune ends and the room goes silent, you may find yourself virtually dressed like the Cowboy from the Village People spinning in a circle with a large purple gorilla. ;)

Cheers and Happy Selling!

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