The curse of the familiar

Sometimes the greatest value I can offer a client is a fresh, outside perspective.

For example, I worked with a client recently that was making a major proposal to a customer. As I talked with them, several things became clear:

  • They were so familiar with their unique value that they assumed everyone knew it. As a result, they never articulated it directly in the proposal.
  • They were so deeply involved in the details of how they could help the customer, they didn’t see the high-level strategic value they brought.

In other words, their familiarity with business details kept them from seeing the big picture.  In this case, having an outsider’s eyes brought fresh perspective and new energy to the process.

The curse of the familiar can be less extreme:

  • Using the same Powerpoint slides you’ve always used because they’re already done and they’re easy – even if you’ve been modifying them for years.
  • Not revisiting a website that’s been up for two or more years without substantive change.
  • Using the same format or formula for a customer story that you’ve always used, without looking for new ways of telling the story.
  • Writing the same types of white papers you’ve written for the past years, without changing style, layout, or approach.

We like the familiar because it’s easy and, at least the in the past, it worked. You can’t possibly start everything from scratch or you’d never get anything done.

But it’s important to take a fresh look at what you’re doing and how you might improve it – particularly in technology marketing. Here are a few ways to ‘inoculate’ yourself against the curse of the familiar:

  • Keep current in new trends in your industry or others that are related for your prospects. Read blogs and articles, watch webinars.
  • Take classes from thought leaders. In technology marketing, MarketingProfs is a great place to do this. The membership pays for itself in inspiration.
  • Network with others in your profession – meetings and conferences can be very helpful.
  • Try new tools and media – whether ‘pinning’, creating infographics, slideshares, screencasts, videos, etc.  In technology marketing, it’s critical to stay current with the new tools.
  • And, occasionally, bring in the outsider who can provide a fresh perspective. As a freelance marketing consultant, I gain fresh perspective from every new client.

What do you do to keep fresh?  I’d love to hear other ideas.

2 Comments on “The curse of the familiar

  1. Speaking of this curse, I just read another blog that reminded all of us that we need to refresh our SEO keywords on websites. Basically, everything in marketing – digital or print – needs a fresh look on a regular basis. Thanks for the gentle encouragement!

    • Claire – excellent point – SEO is never ‘set it and forget it’

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