When in life are we told the objective truth? And is there such a thing?
Feedback is a dangerous and strange phenomenon. There are two parties in the process. The giver and the receiver. Both have agendas. These agendas matter. They change the feedback, and the way it’s received. The theory is when you ask for feedback you want the honest objective truth as the other parties see it. When you give it, that’s what you should give. But in reality, this is rarely the truth. When we ask for feedback, we might want to learn something
but in general, what we really want to hear is good things about us. Anything else is painful. With the potential to cut to the heart of our self-esteem. Particularly if the feedback is from someone we
value. We also filter the news. We adjust what we hear based on our preconceptions. Even the most honest feedback may be interpreted differently from what was intended.
Conversely for the giver, being asked for feedback is a potential nightmare. How honest do we want
to be? What does the recipient really want to hear? What do we gain from giving honest feedback? If we have a great relationship, why do we want to risk it? Particularly if we know existing beliefs are firm and passions run high. This process plays out in so many situations. Your annual review. When you break up with your partner (or not, hopefully!). When you pitch for investment. When you present to a potential client in a sales meeting. In many business and personal situations, feedback could be important. But it’s tricky. Can you “take” it? Do you really want it? Do you really want to give it?
In the area we work at Sensecheck, we focus on marketing.
Marketers have a helping hand on feedback. We can ask for feedback from our customers. For consumer products, that’s no problem, budget aside. Consumers (if handled properly) will give honest objective feedback. They will take the opportunity to tell you what they think. Yes, it can be painful. I have sat watching many a focus group where my brainchild has got shredded. But it’s not personal and I professionally understand the benefits. We understand in marketing that it’s hard to
see our message or product from the outside point of view, so feedback is crucial. It avoids us
from making big mistakes and wasting money.
But in small businesses, and particularly in B2B small businesses, what is the equivalent? Marketing success really matters to you, but how do you get objective honest feedback on your work. Who do you
ask, and how do you know their feedback is what you need. Furthermore, will you listen to it?
Not easy is it? Maybe that’s why a lot of B2B marketing well, let’s say, isn’t the greatest. The way we set up our feedback platform, is to solve many of the problems. It’s arm’s length, it’s
anonymous so not personal. It’s professional and task-focused. It’s set up to get you the feedback you need, not necessarily what you want (unless you just want ego-stroking?) It’s designed to save you money. And you might be surprised what you learn. Most are….