The Courage to Say No

Jen Borucki | April 11, 2018

Some say yes is the most powerful word in the English language. It’s positive, affirmative, opens doors, builds bridges, leaves people feeling great about themselves. To say yes freely is a wonderful thing.

Until it isn’t.

Our inner desire for affirmation doesn’t overcome the basic truth – “yes” is the path of least resistance. But a strategic “no” can be even more powerful, especially when it comes to driving better outcomes for your experience marketing program.

In the absence of “no,” sacred cows flourish – cows that can cost your business money and lost opportunity. How many of these cows have you seen?

  • We’re not sure XYZ show is working, but we’ve been going there for years
  • We must provide printed literature – someone might want it
  • We exhibit exclusively in-booth
  • We can’t afford digital
  • Or the ever-popular – We’ve always done it this way

Depending on your corporate environment, there might be some pushback against saying no. How do you express your concerns without jeopardizing your career?

Eradicating sacred cows is something a seasoned experience marketing partner often can assist with, for many reasons.

  • Your partner imparts an objective focus. Their experience brings a new way of looking at old problems, presented in a constructive, non-confrontational manner. 
  • Your partner brings a breadth of success stories. Fresh perspective provided by an impartial observer can be a powerful tool, leveraging the credibility of how others have tackled the same challenges with success.
  • Your partner adds a new dynamic. Especially in circumstances where strong personalities collide, your partner speaks with a different voice. They can convey respect for all sides of an issue, drilling down on low-hanging fruit and cutting through the clutter with a topline argument that saves money, improves efficiencies and/or offers enhanced customer focus.

If you are exclusively using your experience marketing partner in an order-taking capacity, you may be missing out on a powerful advocate. Reach out with your concerns, making sure your partner understands the underlying political landscape so they can craft a palatable and persuasive call for change. Then assemble your team and let the dialogue begin.

And if your current supplier is not up to the challenge, reach out to your network to identify a potential partner to bring into the mix. There are many great minds in this industry. Raise the bar and you will not only eradicate sacred cows – you may jumpstart your experience marketing program as well.