I’m not referring to ‘creativity’ as the ‘C’ word here. I mean the other one.
I was at a business presentation recently and the presenter asked at the end for feedback. The people in the audience were fair and polite, but they did have concerns and found flaws in the proposition and voiced them. In some cases proposing how the offer could be improved so that they would be more interested. The startling reaction from the presenter was to say, “people always say that, they always point out these ‘niggles’ and if you were to study the offer more you’d see that that’s what they are. I’m not going to change anything because of these little niggles.” Needless to say, no-one bought it that day.
How do you handle criticism? It certainly made me think about my own business. How do I cope when people don’t don’t like what I’ve got? Do I have a protective knee-jerk reaction of “what do they know” and fight on, banging my head against the wall?
The best approach is to weigh up who is providing the feedback and in what context. In the presentation it was prospective customers who wanted changes made. Are there areas of our business that we’re so arrogant that we create a product or service in a vacuum with an imaginary audience in mind and when a possible audience comes along, we won’t budge to accommodate them and make a sale? Would we really want to have our idea intact and unaltered, but unsold?
In literary circles, editors have a name for the parts of a novel that the author loves, is wedded to and focuses all their attention on. It’s usually a few paragraphs that the author thinks is really clever but everyone else things is jarring and irrelevant. They call them the ‘darlings’. The editor’s first instruction is that they need to ‘kill the darlings’.
Are there parts of your business that you love but no-one else does? Are there things that your prospects are saying ‘all the time’ but you refuse to budge. Could it be that you love your new website – but it generates no business. Do you love your old logo (you’ve had it for years and designed it yourself) but everyone thinks its old fashioned. Have you had advice that you should position or niche your offering in a certain way but you feel that would demean it or restrict you. (Have you every said to anyone ‘our product is for everyone’ and yet no-one is buying it?).
Criticism is horrible. Especially when it’s called ‘constructive criticism’. It’s horrible even if it’s called ‘feedback’. It’s not nice and it hurts. Especially when you know that they just misunderstood, they just didn’t get what you were trying to do. The point is – if you hear the same thing more than once you need to change something, either your offering or your prospects. The ‘C’ word can be invaluable to save time and stop your head from banging against that wall.
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