Lately, I’ve been playing the “what if you were wrong” game with my coaching clients. It goes like this:

Wrong way

Client: Jane at XYZ Company hasn’t called me back. They must not want to hire me.
C.J.: What if you were wrong about that?
Client: Hmm, maybe I should call her and ask what’s up?

In this example, a moment’s consideration about the possibility that his thinking might be off base transformed my client’s discouraged paralysis into productive action. Examining where you might be wrong about marketing can be an extremely useful exercise for any entrepreneur. Consider these examples:

Client: I don’t want to limit myself by choosing a target market. I think I’ll market my business to anyone who might need my services.
Coach: What if you were wrong about that?
Client: I might be spreading myself too thin if I market to everybody. Maybe it would be a good idea to narrow it down a bit.

Client: The economy is so bad right now, I’m never going to get any big-ticket business. I’d better concentrate on small contracts until things pick up again.
Coach: What if you were wrong about that?
Client: I guess that could be a mistake. I’ll never get any big-ticket business unless I ask for it, right?

I introduced myself to all those prospects already. They’ll call me if they need me.
Coach: What if you were wrong about that?
Client: They could forget about me if they don’t hear from me in a while. Maybe I should try to keep in touch.

Client: I heard that social networking is the best way for solopreneurs to market themselves. I’m going to stop my other marketing and put all my effort into Facebook.
Coach: What if you were wrong about that?
Client: Maybe I should ask some other solopreneurs what their experience has been first.

I don’t like making follow-up calls. It should do just as well to send emails instead.
Coach: What if you were wrong about that?
Client: I could lose out on a lot of sales if people don’t read my emails. Maybe I should make a few calls, too.

Client: I got a great offer from my professional association to run a display ad in the conference program. I bet it will bring in lots of clients.
Coach: What if you were wrong about that?
Client: Perhaps I should call my friend who advertised last year and see what results she had.

Client: Now that my website is up, I should start getting plenty of business online without having to do much about marketing.
Coach: What if you were wrong about that?
Client: Well, I think pay-per-click ads would be a great way to attract more clients to my website.
Coach: What if you were wrong about that, too?
Client: Maybe I shouldn’t let go my offline marketing until I see how well I do online.

As you can see, questioning your assumptions about marketing can lead to designing a much more solid strategy. You can try asking yourself what if you were wrong, but it can be even more powerful to have a friend, colleague, or coach ask you. And, as in the last example above, keep asking until you feel satisfied with your new conclusions.

There’s one more type of assumption about marketing you might want to question – not what you’re planning to do, but how you feel about doing it:

Client: Marketing is scary. It’s uncomfortable, too. I’ll never be any good at it.
Coach: What if you were wrong about that?
Client: I guess I can learn to do it better. Maybe then it won’t be so scary or uncomfortable.

The next time you decide to do something about marketing – or not do it – take a moment and play the “what if you were wrong” game. You may discover an entirely new perspective, and ultimately, be right more often.

C.J. Hayden, MCC, CPCC, is the author of the bestseller Get Clients Now! A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches, Since 1992, she's been helping entrepreneurs survive and thrive. C.J. is the author of five other business how-to-books, and has taught marketing at Mills College and John F. Kennedy University. Find out more about C.J.'s books and courses or attend one of her upcoming programs.

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