Guest post by Brett Duncan
We live in an extremely regulated society.
Every industry has its list of rules, its book of policies, its irritating disclaimers and its over-the-top enforcements. And it guarantees that today’s communicator will reach a frustrating crossroad where she realizes that she can’t even say what it is her product does.
We all deal with it in some form or fashion.
Over the past eight years, I’ve worked as a marketer in areas heavily regulated by the FDA (nutrition), EPA (pesticides) and FTC (network marketing). To be honest, I can’t remember the last time that I could say what one of my products actually did. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But here’s a fact: it’s a sure thing.
How Well Do You Play By the Rules
So that’s why you should embrace your regulations. It’s easy, maybe even therapeutic, to rant and complain about how your regulations don’t make any sense. It’s logical to try to argue against them with, well, logic. But none of that matters. What matters is realizing the rules to the game, and finding a way to play by them well.
Think about it: basketball has rules. It doesn’t matter if I don’t like what a foul is. It doesn’t matter if I don’t like the idea that I can’t move around with the ball without dribbling. Nobody cares that I don’t understand why I can’t spend three seconds in the lane. It doesn’t matter what I think about the rules; I have to play by them. So I concentrate on excelling in the area that’s within my boundaries.
Your industry has its rules, and for you to excel, you must play by them. No, you actually must embrace them. And here are a few reasons why:
- Regulations are the great equalizer. Sure, you may feel like they’re holding you back, but they also hold everyone else back. You’re not alone.
- Regulations limit competition. Most people give up at the thought of sticking to tough regulations. Which thins out your competitors. That’s a good thing.
- Regulations give you clear opportunities. As a communicator, having these boundaries is a good thing. It means that it’s not necessarily the best marketer who will win, but the best marketer within these specific boundaries will win. That’s a big difference.
- Regulations give your product a chance to do the work. Yeah, certain rules may make it a little harder to use claims that actually compel a prospect to try your product, but once they do, there’s no regulation against their personal experience. Which means the product that creates the most, and best, personal experiences wins.
- Regulations keep you honest. Fess up: if someone wasn’t watching, you’d definitely be a bit over zealous in your description of your product. And you’d fall short of those promises in the consumer’s eyes. Which is not good.
- Regulations don’t matter to your customers. Seriously, when was the last time you read the small print? Or didn’t snicker at the outrageous side effects mentioned in some drug commercial? Face it: we are oblivious to this stuff, as are buyers. We all think regulations are nuts, so we ignore them.
So, give your regulations a big hug. Accept them, and start figuring out ways to fully leverage them. Become the best player who knows how to play by the rules. Those types are invaluable.
Do you have interesting ways you’ve dealt with regulations in your industry?
Brett Duncan is a marketing pro in the direct selling industry. His blog on marketing communications, MarketingInProgress.com, tries to make sense of the blur that is today’s marketing and communications landscape. Check it out, and follow him on Twitter: @bdunc1.