Don’t Take it Personally.

Most business decisions are based on hard facts. Owners and managers look at sales, trends, overhead, efficiency — anything that can be measured — and base decisions on what they know for a fact is true.

Except when it comes to marketing.

Even though plenty of research exists, most marketing decisions are still based on what someone thinks or feels or prefers. And that’s hurting sales.

Too many decision-makers — and even some marketing directors — believe marketing is less scientific and more intuitive. “Go with your gut” tends to rule.

Think about color. Plenty of studies show how we react to specific colors. Yet color decisions for everything from logos to literature to websites often get made because someone says, “I’m not crazy about green. I like blue. Let’s go with blue.”

(If you think this doesn’t happen, talk to anybody at an agency or design firm. It happens all the time. We know of one logo that got changed because the spouse of the company’s president hated a particular color.)

And it’s not just about how things look. Decision makers often make sweeping assumptions about the way people behave, then base decisions on what they assume is true — even though the data often shows they’re completely wrong.

In the classic Why We Buy by Paco Underhill, one retail business owner tells the author that because they’re a destination store, everybody who walks in the door buys something. So they set up cameras. The result? About 40% of shoppers actually made a purchase. Six out of ten left without buying a thing.

That story has a happy ending. Now that he understood how many opportunities he was missing, the business owner was able to make changes that converted many of those shoppers to buyers. But that wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been willing to look at the facts.

Owners and managers often assume everyone makes buying decisions the way they do. But they’re wrong in two important ways. First, no one is “normal.” Everyone is unique in the way they decide to buy. Second, we’re terrible at knowing how we make our own decisions — which makes us wrong if we assume others decide as we do.

Here’s the takeaway: you can sell more if you make marketing decisions based on research. Not feelings or hearsay or hunches, but actual facts. Whether it’s how your message looks, the language you use, the amount of copy, the format, the medium or the timing, let the stats drive your decision. If you do, you’ll sell more.

And that’s a fact.