There is something very magical about brutal honesty—be it in life or business.
Let me share with you a few examples I’ve experienced just in the last month.
Crowdsourcing for Honest Feedback
Recently, I placed a video on the home page of The Sales Lion. In it, I discussed the different types of marketing agency business models and went on to explain our model as consultants and trainers here at The Sales Lion.
Upon releasing it (it was an infinity white background, about 7 minutes long, with a close up shot on me the entire time), I made a point to ask my podcast community at Mad Marketing if they would give me their honest feedback of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the video.
Because crowdsourcing public opinion in this manner can be incredibly productive and at the same time counter-productive (if you put too much stock into what one person says), I let the results (feedback) come in to my inbox in the following weeks as listeners got a chance to view the clip.
Over time, the following became apparent:
People liked the lighting and production elements of the video.
Viewers appreciated my honest, unbiased approach to discussing different types of marketing companies.
Many made comments like “You seemed to be in thought as you were explaining yourself, which made the pace a little slow.”
Others said it was too long, as 7 minutes was simply too much time for that type of video.
As I analyzed their feedback, and watched the video a few more times myself, I couldn’t help but agree.
They were right—I was slow.
And the reason I was slow is because I made the video in one take, which meant I hadn’t yet become a master at explaining my point. Essentially, I recorded it once, thought it was pretty good, and went with it.
This (the length complaint) also explains why roughly 50% of the folks that watched the video didn’t make it to the end.
As a result of this feedback, I scrapped the video and am in the process of producing another.
Was it a failure?
Heck no. Everything worked out fine. I tested the marketplace and the marketplace showed (and told) me what I needed know, which means Version 2 will be even better.
To me, this is the essence of great business.
Obsess over listening to your customer base and be willing to change, pivot, and adjust constantly.
The Hot Seat Evolution
For quite some time, Ryan and I have wanted to do a show together. For almost two years we’ve been chatting about the idea and there was one thing we knew for certain we wanted to do—a LIVE show that included video.
This vision came to reality when the new platform Blab was launched months ago in 2015.
In our eyes, it was the perfect platform—it was video, combined with the ability to have a great audio discourse/debate and even better, we could involve LIVE audience members as guests on the show.
So, in November of last year, we commenced recording weekly episodes of The Hot Seat.
And during the final segment of the show, we allowed audience members to jump on camera and get their sales and marketing questions answered on air.
At first, this novel concept seemed to work, but we quickly noticed a few different issues:
- Blab is a new platform. It’s really innovative and potentially groundbreaking, but the majority of the world doesn’t know it exists, which means the audience numbers, at least for now, are likely going to be low. (Unless you have a massive existing brand and set of followers using the platform)
- People, for the most part, don’t want to jump on a live show and ask questions. Why? Because it means they’ll be on camera, they’ll be observed by others, and they need to articulate their thoughts quickly.
- Because Hanley and I wanted to turn the show into a podcast (to listen to on iTunes, Stitcher, etc) we quickly realized live audience members and interaction are (potentially) a major detriment to the non-live recorded version of the episode.
In other words, if someone isn’t physically watching what’s going on, and they’re just “listening” to the episode unfold, the flow can become very disjointed.
Furthermore, each week, Hanley and I were testing topics and segments that did and did not work.
For example, we saw if we even talked about sports, a large portion of our audience would quickly lose interest.
If we talked about political subjects (in conjunction with how they relate to business) the audience would not only grow, but engagement would skyrocket.
The best part of this experience with Hanley (btw, that’s what he likes to be called, hence my usage of his last name instead of saying “Ryan”) was the fact that he and I embrace brutal honesty and feedback.
If a segment of a show stunk, we talked about it.
If a segment was great, we discussed it.
If one of us seemed off, we pointed it out.
If one of us rambled too much, we mentioned it to each other.
And by doing all of these things—truly observing, watching, and testing the results—we came to realize what type of show The Hot Seat was to become.
Today, even though it’s recorded in front of a Live audience on Blab, the only interaction occurs in text, not by them jumping on camera as well.
We’ve made each episode 30-40 minutes long (again, based on feedback/observation) and have a very different style of doing the show now than we did just 8 weeks ago when we started.
This is also why, when we launched the show on iTunes this week, we scrapped the first 4 episodes, as they simply weren’t a true representation of what the show is and what it will become.
Hopefully you understand my points here.
There is magic in being honest with yourself and your coworkers on what is and is not working regarding your business. Because Hanley and I were and are able to do this, I suspect the show will get better and better over time instead of wasting much time on what “isn’t working” simply because we were too afraid to address it.
So as you go forward in 2016 looking to make it your best year ever, embrace brutal honesty. Ask yourself what truly is and is not working. Ask yourself what resonates with your audiences and what does not.
By so doing, your brand and business will be led exactly to where it need to go to achieve its greatest success.