Doing the Same Old Things & Expecting Different Results

            “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

            So what are you going to change about next year, and why wait clear ‘till then?

            Look, I’m not going to lie. This is yet another of those get ready for the new year advice pieces, and you may have already seen more than your share of them. And if you haven’t yet, don’t worry. You’ll get a belly full of them before we’re too far into the New Year, guaranteed.

            But that’s no reason to stop reading… unless you’ve given up on life and business and you simply don’t even want to try anymore.

            On the contrary, there is a reason that all this stuff comes flooding your way. This year, with all of its shortcomings, is drawing to a close. And a new year, with all of its promise, is on the horizon. This is an opportunity for a new beginning and a recommitment. But if you think you’re going to re-commit – knuckle down, raise the bar, lengthen your stride – whatever you want to call it, and if you think the results you’re looking for are simply a matter of commitment and hard work, you are sadly mistaken.

            You can’t make significant changes just working harder. You’ve got to work smarter. Maybe just different. But you can’t keep doing the same things and expect to get different results. That is, by definition, INSANE!

            (I should modify that. Actually, by working harder, but doing things the same way, you’ll hasten the result. If you’re going broke and you work harder, but keep doing the same old stuff, you’ll go broke faster, that’s all. If you’re mediocre, working harder at the same things will make you more mediocre, faster. And if you’re doing well… well then doing the same things harder will help you do well, faster. But it could be even better, and probably a lot easier.)

            Another dynamic comes into play. What if you’re doing well, but it has nothing to do with the work you’re doing. Maybe you’re working hard, but your success isn’t related to your hard work. What if you’re just in a great market? What if the economy is simply working in your favor? The problem is, you think it’s your hard work that is yielding the result and when conditions change and things start going in the wrong direction, you begin to think you can fix it by just doing what you’ve always done, but harder, longer and faster.

            But it doesn’t work, because in reality, it never did, and now you’re in a world of hurt because you’re both physically and emotionally – not to mention financially --  “wrung out.”

            Let me recommend a far more productive alternative. And this works for any aspect of your life, but let’s stay laser-focused on marketing for the time being. I suggest that you do things differently.

            No, I don’t mean randomly differently; I don’t mean differently for the sake of being different; I don’t mean entirely differently. But I do mean eternally differently. 

            You see you must know three things…

  1. Is what you’re doing working?
  2. Can you find something better?
  3. How to tell what is working best?

The answers to all three questions are the same. Test and track. I’m referring to actual tracking, not the seat-of-the-pants guesswork that most businesses engage in. You’ve got to run the numbers. You’ve got to specifically watch the impact of your advertising, marketing and sales initiatives on the sales curve. And don’t let anybody tell you it can’t be done.

By tracking the results of what you’re currently doing, you’ll find out how well it is or isn’t working. The next step is to try and find something better.

So you try something new – but only on a small scale. You absolutely DO NOT stop doing your old standby stuff and chuck it all for a new-fangled roll-of-the-dice effort. You test small. You take your new initiative to a portion of the marketplace and you measure the results, while you keep the old standby stuff rolling, still doing the stuff it’s always done at whatever level it does it.
And that’s is how you find something better and find what is working best. You actually measure it and compare it. You measure it all!

Remember, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Tracking is essential to answering the three questions above and improving your results SAFELY. And once you’ve found something that consistently out-performs those old standbys, then you can retire the old and your new, profit-proven program can become the “new standby.” 

Of course, as soon as that happens you embark on the process of finding something even better, using the same process of MEASURED CHANGE.

Here’s the point. Don’t commit to working harder or more next year. Commit to working different. Don’t commit to changing something. Commit to changing everything… to change itself. Don’t commit to a result, but commit to the process of ever-improving results.

Now here’s the kicker. If you’re trying to lose weight or stop smoking, change can be hard. In marketing, it’s easy. Because unlike weight loss or smoking, where you can fail, that can’t happen in the world of marketing. When you test something in the marketing world,  the result is what it is. If you’ve tested small and safe, and the outcome is unfavorable, you have still learned something useful for the future. And if it is successful, you have learned something for the future and achieved a profitable result today. And unlike weight loss and smoking, where, when you’ve won, you’ve won and there is no further need for change, or the satisfaction that comes with it, marketing will always provide you with a fresh challenge and the opportunity to win again.

Remember the only insane thing is to keep doing things the same old way and expecting different results. But when you no longer do what you’ve always done, you can no longer get what you’ve always got. And that’s a good thing.

Finally, if this is all so good, why wait ‘till the new year? Why not get started today?



EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Ackerman is a Salt Lake City-based Marketing Consultant, Writer and Speaker, and is President of Ascend Marketing, Inc. For his book THE DELTA INITIATIVE How to Easily, Permanently Change Whatever Sucks in Your Business or Your Life, in 30 Minutes a Day, in 120 Days or Less, visit, or call 800.584.7585.