Online Marketing

What Christopher Columbus Knew About Inbound Marketing That Einstein Did Not

By May 7, 2012 No Comments

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’

At face value Einstein’s definition makes sense. If you are doing the same thing over and over why would you expect a different result?

But dig deeper and you realise that his reasoning is flawed. Take the case of the famous explorer Christopher Columbus, for example.

Columbus’s Radical Idea

In early 1480’s Columbus became convinced that China was 400 miles closer to Europe than was the accepted wisdom at the time. If this was true then it should have been possible to sail west to reach the great land and claim the riches that await there.

Desperately wanting to test his idea, he set out for Spain seeking funding from the Spanish Crown to lead an expedition to China.

An Audience with the Spanish King and Queen

After a year of campaigning the royal court finally allowed Columbus to pitch his idea. While captivated by Columbus’s charisma, the Spanish king and queen did not endorse his proposal. Spain was too busy fighting off Moorish rule to take a gamble on Columbus’s idea.

And that would have been the end of Columbus’s story had it not been for his persistent nature. He kept pestering the court to fund him. He followed them around like a beggar. Days turned to weeks, weeks to months and months to years but Columbus kept pursuing his idea.

Now, by Einstein’s definition, Columbus was as insane as they came. He kept doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. As Columbus himself admitted, “I plough on no matter how the winds might shake me.”

But it was because of his insanity, which lasted 7 years, that Columbus finally landed the deal in 1492. In doing so he changed the course of history, setting into action the series of events that culminated into modern America.

The Fault in Einstein’s Reasoning

Einstein’s error results from one dangerous assumption – that the world is static. The world is anything but. Countless forces push and pull the world in a million different directions everyday creating opportunities for those in a position to capture them.

So it was for Columbus. Spain’s war with the Moores had finished, allowing valuable resources to be freed up. More importantly, Spain was falling behind its rival, Portugal. The Portuguese had discovered many lands over the years from which they brought back gold, slaves and other riches.

Columbus’s proposal provided an opportunity for Spain to catch up. He promised riches, glory and fame for Spain. That is why after repeating his message for 7 years, by doing the same thing over and over again; he was able to secure funding.

Being persistent and repeating his message over time allowed him to capture this lucky moment when Spain was most open to his suggestion.

What This Means For Your Sales and Marketing Efforts

The Columbus story shows that your customers live in a changing environment. Their needs, desires, problems and priorities are constantly changing. They are continually moving in and out of buying states for different types of products and services.

A burglar breaks into someone’s house and they are suddenly more open to buying a home security system. Someone hears of floods in a neighboring state and natural disaster insurance doesn’t sound like a bad idea. A friend buys a new car and suddenly your old car is looking ripe for trade in. You find out your cousin is getting married in two months and you are suddenly in the market for a weight loss program, a new suit, and, if you are a woman, make-up, shoes and many other products and services.

Putting Persistence on Auto-Pilot

The trick though is to find a cheap way to repeat your message. Advertising for this reason is out of question because it is too expensive. A more powerful method is to use content to engage your customers over a period of time.

Use a list, whether it is a physical mailing list, email list, Twitter followers list or a Facebook Friends list to send out content and offers over a period of time.

Repeating your message also has the benefit of making it more attractive and more important (The Mere Exposure Effect in Marketing).

Contrary to what Einstein said, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results in not insanity but the most powerful way to capture lucky moments.

Image source: FotoLibra

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