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The Power of Unlearning for Your Marketing

July 13, 2020


The Power of Unlearning for Your Marketing

How many of us call ourselves “experts”? It’s something a lot of us aspire to. We go to school for years. Then we spend decades in the trenches, developing our skills, our understanding, our knowledge bases.

All of this becomes what we call expertise. And expertise is a good thing, in many ways! But if we’re not careful, it can also get in the way of our marketing.

That’s where the process of unlearning comes in.

What Is Unlearning Anyway?

Unlearning is a process of discarding what we know—or, more accurately, what we thinkwe know.

Now, that might sound like the complete opposite of what we want to do! After all, didn’t we spend years taking university or college courses and workshops and learning on the job to develop our expertise? And now we’re going to “unlearn” it?

Absolutely. We sometimes get tripped up in our own “expertise” and what we think we know. Ever hear someone justify doing marketing a particular way because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”?

That’s the kind of “expertise” that we need to unlearn, because it’s actually holding us back. The ideas are no longer serving us, but they’re preventing us from moving forward.

Dismantling Internal Biases

Part of the problem is that we all have internal biases—what we think we know. Some people still put tons of time and effort into cold calling, because they “know” it works. A better example is someone who “knows” their customers buy from them because they have the lowest price.

Is that really why customers buy your brand over another? In most cases, the price isn’t what keeps people coming back. There’s something else, at the core of the brand that’s drawing them in. But if you think low prices are the key, then you'll structure your sales and marketing around that belief.

And that’s where we can get so caught up in what we think we know. In most cases, we’re better to go back to the source: our customers. Ask them why they buy your brand. Chances are you’re going to hear different answers, answers that go beyond “cheapest thing on the shelf.”

The same thing happens around marketing frameworks. If we keep doing something because we “know” it works, we might miss out on the most effective way to market our brands.

Rebuilding Your Beliefs

Once we realize we're letting our own expertise get in the way of building our brands, we need to figure out how we can start unlearning.

The first step is often research. In fact, before you dive into research, you should be ready to let go of your biases and what you think you know. When we approach research from a place of genuine curiosity, of wanting to know, then it’s worth our time and money.

If we’re not ready to let go of our biases, then we’re not going to hear the answers, not even when our customers provide them. Even if we sit through the presentation with an open mind, within a week or two, we’ll likely be back to our same old tricks.

Breaking habits is tough, but that’s the step we need to take. One of the best ways to break down our internal biases is to turn to living research with our best customers. When we see through their eyes, when we hear directly from them, we’ll be more ready to rethink what we’re doing. Then we're in a better position to align ourselves with their vision of us. From there, we can move to rebuilding our own understanding of our brand and what we do.

One of the best things we can do is to start asking why: Why do we do things this why? Why do we believe our customers buy from us? And then, why do our customers actually buy from us? By asking these questions, we can prepare ourselves to unlearn—and grow from there.

So start with the why!


Meet Margo…brand visioning & marketing

Margo Jay is a Master Brand Strategist with a career leading globally recognized brands; developing and launching a proven model that maximizes competitive sales potential and consumer appeal. She has built the model to help companies of all sizes. Her Client roster includes entrepreneurs through to Fortune 100 brands: NHL teams, Global QSR brands, CPG brands, Broadcast brands, Agencies, Non Profit brands, Hard goods…this model and process provides competitive advantage in any category.

Complete clarity. Ownable distinct selling proposition. Shared values. Brand Clarity. Brand Focus. Brand Inspiration. Brand Obsession. Unlocking brand potential is what she does.

And it all starts with why!

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