In the 1940s, psychologist Abraham Maslow gave us The Four Stages of Learning. It’s an eye-opening framework used to determine one’s competence level in just about any area of life. Once you know where you’re at, you can create meaningful action steps to get to the next level. I’d like to apply Maslow’s insights to the world of marketing.
Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence--you don’t even know that you don’t know something. This is the most dangerous of places to be with regard to marketing if you’re a business owner or other person responsible for making business happen for your company. Don’t assume you’ve got things figured out. Open your eyes and your mind to what’s going on around you and discover marketing issues, trends, and techniques of which you’re currently unaware. The Unconscious Incompetent does not last long in business.
Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence--you know you lack information and experience. This is a much better place to be than Stage 1, although it still doesn’t immediately benefit your business. You realize you lack marketing skills, education, and experience. Hopefully you’re willing to consistently invest time and energy to move to the next level. Awareness is good, but action must follow.
Stage 3: Conscious Competence--you know how to market your business, but it’s accomplished with a significant exertion of effort. It takes too much time. Efficiencies are lacking that would bring greater results with less investment of resources. Marketing is still something you probably don’t truly enjoy. It’s still a necessary evil.
Stage 4: Unconscious Competence--marketing has become part of who you are and how you do business. Let me note that I’m not a total believer in Maslow’s use of the term “unconscious” in this stage. I’d rather consider this stage “Automatic Competence.” The Automatic Competent marketer consistently enjoys a solid return-on-investment on marketing activities. Marketing is not something that is “done” from time to time; it’s an integral component of daily business. The company is a marketing company first--and it shows in both revenues and profits.
What stage are you at right now as a marketer? What do you need to do to progress to the next level? How will making that effort pay off for you and your company?
Share your thoughts, ideas, and questions below. Let’s take you to the next stage in becoming automatic in your marketing activities.
Here’s to your marketing success!
Bryan Waldon Pope