Jul 25, 2018

How Factfulness Can Improve Your Inbound Program

By: Josh Dougherty

Inbound Marketing

I recently finished reading Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think. This book has been getting a lot of buzz lately. In my humble opinion, the buzz is merited. There's a reason Bill Gates is giving the book to every college graduate in 2018.

Seriously. If you read only one book this year, read this one.

On a meta level this book is a nice pick-me-up in the midst of the constant rush of bad news in our seemingly upside down world. I put Factfulness down agreeing with Hans Rosling. The world really is getting better! Nice. That was a good feeling to counter the constant shit storm of the news.

But, we're here to talk about how factfulness can improve your inbound program. So, let's dive in.

Beware The Negativity Instinct

Rosling's book is built around the examination of 10 instincts. One of the first he discusses is the negativity instinct. The core idea behind this instinct is that we only really hear about news when it's bad. This is a great reminder for our inbound programs.

It's tempting to have a knee-jerk reaction when something goes wrong and pull the plug on our entire program or a major initiative. The Negativity Instinct teaches us that this is the wrong thing to do. We need to step back and look at the whole program because the good things often aren't noticed; they're working as they should be. By examining the program using actual data, you can determine wether the negative news is really a game-changer, or a blip in a successful effort.

You Results Don't Follow A Straight Line

As humans, we have an instinct to believe that trends will continue in a straight line in the direction they're currently heading. Factfulness teaches us that this usually isn't the case. They can come in S-bends, humps, slides, or doubling lines.

So, how does this apply to marketing? Well, it means that a successful program won't continue to be successful forever. You must always focus on optimization of your program to ensure that success continues. It also means that an underperforming program isn't bound to always underperform. You can make some strategic adjustments and turn things around.

Make Data-Driven Decisions, Not Urgency-Driven Ones

Hans Rosling reminded me that most decisions that feel urgent, aren't. His specific advice is super helpful:

  • Take A Breath: If you feel like you have a life and death decision that needs to be made right now if your inbound program is to survive, walk away. Take some time to think clearly. You likely have the time.
  • Insist On The Data: Any big decision needs to be made only after some data analysis. Make sure you have the relevant data set to understand what's really going on. This will enable you to make the right decision, rather than the quick one.
  • Beware Of Fortune Tellers: Only trust people who tell you that they can't predict the future. If they can't acknowledge that they could fail, they may not be the right people to entrust with your program...or even your next decision.
  • Be Wary Of Drastic Action: Drastic action will impact more than the individual issue that you're trying to fix. Think through the consequences across your whole program. Your decision may change after you've done this small amount of work.

If you'd like to have further conversations about a fact based approach to life, look me up on Twitter: @doughj...and ignore all my emotion-driven soccer tweets. In the meantime, buy Factfulness and start reading.

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