I had one of those needle-scratching-across-the-record, sound-of-screeching-brakes moments on a call the other day.

We were discussing refocusing an outreach campaign to target a new, very specific audience. Naturally, I brought up the need to create a new set of messages that would address the needs and values of this new group. Without even a beat, the project lead said, "no".

I wish I could say this was the first time. I wish I could say he had even a whiff of a good reason. I wish I could say my rationale changed his mind.

Yet I can't say any of that.

Wasting time & money

And so the client will invest time and money in activities that only have a small chance of getting any kind of good results. And all because of the blind allegiance to the idea that one set of messaging fits all audiences. *Sigh* Another case of wasting resources and missing opportunities. (Here's another example)

It still surprises me when clients willfully choose to ignore the needs and values of their customers and prospects. I used to think it was stupidity, but the more I see it, the more I think it's arrogance.

Keys to the game

Understanding what makes your decision-makers and users tick and addressing it head on is the only way to get the kind of outstanding results that make businesses thrive. Ignoring that keeps you in the minor leagues, where you're never sure if you're going to get cut and where making it to the big leagues is a long shot at best.

And here's the thing -- it doesn't take a huge marketing research investment to figure this out. In most cases, we have the information we need -- we just don't use it. Or it would require a focused effort over a short period of time to ask a few good questions and gather some useful data.

(Read about how we put this to use in this mini case study)

Do it yourself

So take some time today to think about your biggest customer and/or your most promising prospect. What are their needs? What are their values? Where is the opportunity for you to offer something -- a product, a service, a piece of information -- that addresses them? And how can you present your offering in terms that move them to the right action? If you don't know the answers, now's the time to start figuring them out. Otherwise, your arrogance will leave good work and good money on the table.