Why are we playing this song this way?
Some of you may know, others may not, but, I am a frequent musician on the worship team at Raintree Christian Church. Recently, on a Thursday night rehearsal, something came up that sparked this post. We were going to play a song and we got through the first run-through and I was reminded of something. The song was being played wrong. I talked to our worship minister and pointed out that, within the last couple of years, we had found a video of the woman, who wrote the song, playing the song and the song had a totally different rhythmic structure than the way we were playing it. This song was being played to honor a long-time church member and leader, and someone else chimed in and said, “well, that’s not the way [fill in the blank] played it.”
After thinking about it some more, I could recall that no matter where I had heard the song played or sang, it had always been done this way. And it was the wrong way!!!
Please, don’t mistake my intentions here. I’m not calling these people out for singing a song differently than it was written. That doesn’t change the trajectory of my life one bit and it doesn’t hurt anything. It just sparked something in me that I do think can cause damage, and, ultimately, be the death of businesses, relationships, etc.
What is this something? It’s the mindset of, “we’re doing this this way, because IT’S HOW WE’VE ALWAYS DONE IT.”
Yes, I’m yelling about it. If you read our last post about Safety Equals Mediocrity, maybe you’ll remember that I talked about how it’s been in my nature, since I was born, to challenge what I perceived was the status quo. I’m certain that, for most of my young life, this was simply perceived as I just liked to be difficult, but, I’ve learned that it’s simply because I want to know why.
The Pot Roast
Once, while participating in a company competition, a husband won a really nice pot roast.
Proud of his achievement, he calls his wife and asks her to get the stuff ready to have pot roast for dinner.
Upon arriving home, he turns the roast over to his wife. She proceeds to cut one end off and throws it away before starting to cook it.
Confused, the husband asks, “why on earth would you throw away any part of the roast? The whole thing is good…”
The wife responds, “that’s just the way it’s done.”
Not satisfied with the answer, the husband asks why.
“While growing up and helping my mother in the kitchen, that’s the way she always did it,” the wife replied.
“That still doesn’t answer the question,” retorted the husband.
“Fine. If it will make you feel better, we’ll call my mom and ask her.”
The wife picked up the phone and called her mother.
“Mom, I need you to settle an argument for us: why, when you make pot roast, do you always cut the end off?”
On the other end of the phone, the mother replied, “That’s how my mother and my grandmother both did it.”
After hanging up the phone, feeling sheepish, the wife dials the number to her great grandmother’s house.
Hearing a quavering voice on the other end of the line, the wife asks, “Mimi, I need you to help settle an argument my husband and I are having: why, when you made pot roast, did you always cut the end off? I’ve always done that, my mom’s always done that, and grandma’s always done that.”
With a hint of snark in her voice, the great grandmother replied, “while I can’t say why you idiots, are cutting the end off, I had to do it because my pot wasn’t big enough for a whole roast…”
I’m certain you can see the direction of where this is going. For me, and I know for Jacob as well, we grew up in a church environment where traditions were upheld as strict rules and nobody could tell us why, beyond, “that’s how we’ve always done it.”
For me, at an early age, that was an indicator of lazy leadership and fear of disrupting comfort/routine.
I would, of course, be remiss if I didn’t bring this full circle. We as business owners, face this problem every day. Why do we do things the way we do them? Most of the time, our habits and routines were born out of a necessity to get something done a particular way for a particular circumstance, and, if it worked out well, we adopt that process without considering if it’s the best way to handle various instances of the same situation with different circumstances. We simply assume that since it worked that way that time, that it’s the best way to complete that task.
When it comes to marketing, we’ve found that a lot of local businesses take this same approach and, when it doesn’t work, they blame the circumstances rather than their processes.
For instance, when a business has a grand opening, there are certain events that they will place in the schedule to try to maximize their impact on people who are visiting for the first time. Some of these events yield great results. Sales are made, people sign up for an email newsletter, etc.
The next time the company has a big event. They are likely to use the same processes to attempt to pull in the same results from the grand opening.
To prepare for the event, they send out all of the information and possibly a coupon in their newsletter, they send postcards out to all of their customers, and when the event rolls around, less than 10% of the people who show up sign up for the newsletter or buy products.
At the end of the day, the business chalks it up to some kind of circumstance like it was the wrong day of the week, or there was a large sporting event that really messed with the results.
The truth of the matter, was that the processes they used were for picking up new customers and they marketed it to their existing customers. No wonder it didn’t work the second time around.
If someone buys a car from you, you don’t sent them a postcard in 2 months trying to sell them another car. You sell them on an oil change, or some kind of routine maintenance.
How this translates to video
You thought I wasn’t going to talk about video, weren’t you? Wrong.
There’s an interesting problem that we run into a lot when talking to businesses about using video in their marketing. Despite all of the empirical data proving that video is one of the most successful types of marketing today, we still hear, “well, video just doesn’t work for me.”
My question is always, “why?”
Most of the time, as the conversation unfolds, there are a couple of problems we identify.
First problem: “I did a video because I was told I needed one.”
This one seems like a forehead slapper, but, you would be surprised how many people do things because they were told to, without giving any thought to why.
They shoot a video, throw it on social media, get 5-10 likes and no sales, then it’s the video’s fault that no results were yielded.
There was no purpose behind making the video beyond the thought that a video needed to be made.
There are so many things that we resist doing because we don’t know why we should do them, but, when it comes to videos in marketing, there is a large portion of the business and marketing population who use it haphazardly and are upset when it doesn’t work.
My take on this: it’s not your fault (most of the time). Yep. I said it. Most of the time, it’s not your fault. The people who try to convince you to use video never take the time to explain why or how it works.
Second Problem: My first video worked, but, the rest have been a waste of money
This one can really hurt, and it ties back to the first issue, and it also goes back to the grand opening example from before. Businesses and organizations try to emulate the first process that yielded good results, but, the target has moved. No wonder it’s not working. Add to that, a lot of amateurish video production people/companies will give you the exact same thing over and over and just make minor adjustments to make it look like they did something new (see The Illusion of Creativity in the “Safety Equals Mediocrity blog). So, while you may think you are getting something different, you’re not!
How does one combat this?
This is fairly simple, and we’re going to help you out. Let’s answer some questions:
- What is the purpose of the video you want to produce? (frequent answers are brand recognition and product sales)
- Who is your audience? (Identify who you think this needs to appeal to and why)
- What results are your demographics looking for? (This is more specific to sales, but, what are you selling to people? If it’s wine, you’re not selling alcohol, you’re selling a social or private experience. If you’re selling a car, you’re not selling a vehicle, you’re selling mobility, status, and style. Catch my drift?)
All of these questions will help you make sure your message is clarified and on-target to gain maximum traction. They will also help you avoid wasting a ton of money throwing ideas against a wall and hoping they stick.
If you get nothing else out of this post remember one simple question: why?
Let your inner toddler run rampant with this one!
When your friends/colleagues/marketing agent/agency/or random Hamil Bros Blog Post tell you that you need a video, always ask why.
When they tell you what type of video you need, always ask why.
When they tell you how the video needs to be done, always ask why.
If they can’t explain it to you, then, they probably don’t know what they are doing. We always make it a point to educate our clients on our processes and reasons. Sometimes, they don’t really care to know why, but, it certainly dodges a lot of confusion and wasted time later. If they absolutely don’t want to know, it’s generally because we’ve earned their faith and trust, but, it’s never gone without a why explanation before that point.
However, if their answer is, “because, that’s how we’ve always done it,” run for the hills!