I suppose at some point a content schedule for Marketing Street Insights will be needed, but for the moment daily life is serving as my muse. Sometime it feels like:
In life and business, being proactive always trumps being reactive. It took me a while to learn this lesson, but getting out in front of an issue or beating your competition by being one of the first to release a product makes a huge difference in results. Let’s examine both courses of action!!!
An amazing quote by Benjamin P Hardy defines being proactive as ” Being successful requires being proactive and not waiting for life to come to you. It means you’re on the offense, not defense. You’re active, not passive.” It can be said that proactive create their own weather. For instance, prior to the original Iphone’s release, the idea of a smart technology device was more than likely kicked around by many entrepreneurs and corporations. However, Steve Jobs and Apple got their product out first and were ahead of the curve.
Being proactive means looking at the current demands of the market (or your life) and predicting how these demands will evolve. We are not psychics, but as humans we posses intellect. All of us have the power to extrapolate how trends will develop and that is where being proactive is best applied. For instance, if your company makes widgets for the holiday season, knowing and researching that 50% of all consumers start their holiday shopping the end of October is a key piece of data. The goal should be to launch the product and start marketing in late August, September and October, so you can be the first to hit these consumers who are in the buying mode. Getting out in front of the competition gives the leg up to your brand – and makes you top of mind when the transaction decision is being made.
Additionally, proactive means looking at all the potential outcomes both good and bad – and preparing for each. This process of understanding what could happen (of course, life is known to throw a curve ball now and then) allows for nimbleness and preparedness in your decision making.
One of the key terms in the quote by Mr. Hardy is being on the offense. We all know that offensive can have two meanings – one is akin to sports and means being successful; the other means to upset another party by your actions. Being proactive can produce both results. Ideally, we’d like to have it mean the first, as that implies success and good fortune. But, as discussed about, if all potential end results have been considered, the second meaning can be mitigated by proper planning.
Proactive, to me, means being an innovator. It means being open to taking chances and seeing failure as a teacher, not a deterrent. If you fail at something, you have learned first-hand how not to do it. Being proactive means seeing the growth potential in both success and failure.
As the quote suggests, reactive behavior tends to be driven by visceral reaction to problems. The reaction is usually feeling driven and entails feeling powerless due to the circumstances and environment in which the issue arose in the first place. When emotions get involved in decision making, the first casualty is usually logic. The mode the decision is made in is defensive and listening to reason becomes utterly impossible. This is how a bad situation turns into a catastrophic one, when people stop listening and only hear their side. This is what reactive actions produce.
Unlike being proactive, there is no foresight into the potential outcomes of an action or product launch. It’s done with little or no planning. Even worse, it’s done after someone else has beaten you to the punch – and it makes the product you are launching look like a carbon copy, even if it has a new Kung Fu Grip.
Furthering the problem is reactive behavior makes the person or product look weak and emotional. Logic and planning (proactive) are hallmarks of success and strength. In life or business, when we are reactive, we are in a position of weakness – and can be seen as lashing out. However, there is one advantage to being reactive in business. If you aren’t bold enough to be the first, it allows for all the bugs and issues with an idea or concept to be brought to light. When you decide to release your widget, the problems the competition ran into are known and your widget will have them worked out.
In closing, being proactive is scary and challenging. It requires us to be bold and to learn to see failure in a different light. Once we get to that point, our chances of success will increase exponentially.