I regularly see clients challenged to achieve more, and generate more opportunities across more channels to more audiences – but with less resources (the dilemma!). I then hear things such as, “We’ve always done these events”, “Our sales guys like to have leave behinds or feel more confident with a brochure”, and “Our customers have got used to us doing it this way”. Whilst these may be valid points, they may also be excuses. Excuses that suggest saying ‘yes’ to everything is acceptable. In many cases, these points aren’t true, it’s just saying ‘yes’, because it’s the easy option. Saying ‘no’ is a skill and it’s something all good marketers should be able to do.

Leadership examples of saying no

Let’s take a look at what a few great leaders had to say on the role of saying ‘no’ in achieving success.

“PEOPLE THINK FOCUS MEANS SAYING YES TO THE THING YOU’VE GOT TO FOCUS ON. BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT IT MEANS AT ALL. IT MEANS SAYING NO TO THE 100 OTHER GOOD IDEAS THAT THERE ARE. YOU HAVE TO PICK CAREFULLY. I’M ACTUALLY AS PROUD OF THE MANY THINGS WE HAVEN’T DONE AS THE THINGS WE HAVE DONE.” STEVE JOBS
“PEOPLE THINK FOCUS MEANS SAYING YES TO THE THING YOU’VE GOT TO FOCUS ON. BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT IT MEANS AT ALL. IT MEANS SAYING NO TO THE 100 OTHER GOOD IDEAS THAT THERE ARE. YOU HAVE TO PICK CAREFULLY. I’M ACTUALLY AS PROUD OF THE MANY THINGS WE HAVEN’T DONE AS THE THINGS WE HAVE DONE.” STEVE JOBS

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It’s very easy to say yes.”
Tony Blair

“THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE AND VERY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE IS THAT VERY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE SAY ‘NO’ TO ALMOST EVERYTHING.” WARREN BUFFET
“THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE AND VERY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE IS THAT VERY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE SAY ‘NO’ TO ALMOST EVERYTHING.” WARREN BUFFET

Saying no makes you back where you’re most likely to win

Marketing leaders regularly need to make big decisions and tough choices. They have to justify their spend, performance and most importantly, the value that their function brings to the business. A big part of this is taking the actions that will make the biggest positive difference, not doing a bit of everything to keep everyone happy.

Saying ‘no’ means you have a clear strategy of where you’re heading and where you will win. By committing to a path, you have the justification and will to say ‘no’ as it doesn’t align with what you need to do to succeed. Conversely, saying yes to everything means there is no clear focus and you haven’t prioritised what you need to do to be successful.

The key to doing more with less = Saying No! It gives focus as to where you will have the biggest impact.

Two simple questions fix this…

When I’m faced with someone trying to achieve more with less resource I always ask the same question;

“What will you not do now?”

This is for two very simple reasons:
– It helps them to focus on what not to do, as opposed to doing something (which will usually be something they have always done), by choosing certain things to not do, they can focus on the items that make the biggest positive difference.
– It instigates the need for change by contrasting now with whatever they used to do

The second question when asked about a specific activity is:

“Are you saying ‘yes’ because you have always done so or because you think it’s genuinely important to your success?”

This question reveals how important something really is and the negative impact of not doing it.
How many activities are you just doing because you always have? And how many more impactful things could you do if you freed up resources by not doing some things? If the answers is ‘lots’ then you’re not alone. You need to say ‘no’ more and home on in on what will really make a difference.