Years ago, I had a friend who was recovering from years of addiction. I will call this friend of mine James.
For years James had tried drinking less, drinking on the week end, drinking only when friends visit … but with each effort, he eventually found himself back to the same place – very unhappy, very unsatisfied, and very drunk.
Finally, he decided that he would no longer try to regulate, or moderate his drinking.
He will simply quit drinking.
One spring afternoon we were driving to his home for a dinner, and we passed by beautiful marshes in Guilford, Connecticut, when he slowed down and started crying. I grew quite concerned. My friend is not given to outbursts of emotions, and in over six years this was the first time I had seen him crying.
‘The colors … there are so bright.’
He was having an epiphany.
He had driven through this road for at least twenty years, but with his habits and mind always just a few steps away from drunk, all around him was a soft blur.
Colors were muted.
Sounds were faint.
Smells were far away.
Life was one dull, long stretch.
He had seen the fields of grass, but he never had the mental clarity to actually see them.
He had lost over twenty years to the bottle, and as he was recovering he was regaining not only the most important aspects of his life – the respect of his work colleagues, the support of his spouse, but the small minutiae of life, such as seeing the green fields near his home in their full, glorious green.
As experienced professionals, it is easy to get to a place of addiction, where we are on auto-robot, and our workdays pass in a blur.
All of us have our go-to tricks when we are launching new products, or when sales are soft, or when a new competitor enters the market. But as time goes on, we slowly start to notice that tricks that once used to bring down the house, are now getting jeered off stage.
You can’t keep repeating the same old joke and keep expecting a standing ovation.
Economists have a name for this – the law of diminishing returns.
Even as the data shows us otherwise, we are addicted to these old solutions. They worked before, why can’t they work now? So we throw more money at these solutions, and push harder, and tweak and nip them … and yet, when the results come in, the results are far from what we expected.
Quit the tired solutions. They no longer work.
Quit with the secure ways. It’s a new marketplace, with new rules, new entrants, new customers …
As a marketer, you can’t afford to get addicted to solutions that don’t work …
Press reset …
And maybe, just maybe, you will find a new pack of marketing tools and tricks that will move the needle, so that you when you are driving in the marshes of Guilford, Connecticut, you will slow down, breath a sigh of relief, and laugh … then laugh some more … at the colors of spring.