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Making marketing decisions as a solopreneur

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Making marketing decisions as a solopreneur

When you invest your money into marketing, you want to see where it’s going and be able to track and monitor the results.

Marketing professionals spend much of their time planning content, creating reports and analysing data. But when it comes to the solopreneur, might it be best to just give it a go?

Marketing can often actually be more about trial and error, market research and learning from mistakes rather than figures and creating the perfect advert or social media campaign.

Here I use the implicit egotism theory to explain how solo business owners might deliberate too much over their marketing activities.

At high school, my cookery teacher was called Mrs Bakewell.

Sigmund Freud, the man behind the pleasure principle, has a surname that derives from the German word for ‘joy’.

One of my own passions is carpentry and I went to college to study it. If I marry my partner, I will be Mrs Wood.


In 2002, three psychologists published a paper ‘Why Susie Sells Seashells by the Seashore’. It found that people called Dennis or Denise were more likely to become dentists than people with equally common names such as Walter. They put the results down to ‘implicit egotism’.

Implicit egotism refers to humans having an unconscious favouritism for things they associate themselves with.

Uri Simonsohn disproved the theory in 2011. He pointed out that Walter was a name favoured by the older generations meaning that those called Dennis were likely to be of working age.

Brian Nosek, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia replicated 98 published psychology experiments to further refine the findings. The results produced a worryingly low percentage reflecting similar results as the original study.

The morale of the theory?

Don’t take a single study as definitive proof. But, do be careful not to dismiss the psychology behind it.

The standard measure that academics use to judge whether findings are deemed worthy of publication is whether they are significant at 95%. This is according to Richard Shotton.

In the famous words of Nike, when it comes to making marketing decisions, sometimes it’s best to just do it.

Just like the theory behind implicit egotism, there can be arguments for and against for every marketing decision you might make. It doesn’t mean they’re right or wrong.

But is that the right benchmark when it comes to marketing?

Rory Sutherland, an expert in consumer behaviour once said: “I occasionally ask academics whether they have any interesting failed experiments we can use. You see if just 20% of people do something anomalous 10% of the time, that’s useless in academic papers but relevant to business.”

So, if the potential upside is large and the downside is minimal, marketing decisions do not require 95% certainty.

So if you have found a relevant bias, test it on a small scale. If the results are no better, move on. If it outperforms, dig a little deeper.

I haven’t pursued a career in woodwork but there could be something to be said about implicit egotism if I had gone into this hobby of mine and then married my now partner. But like all good marketers, I realise this is just a theory.

For every marketing decision I help my clients make, I have researched the arguments for and against, the pros and cons, and considered any coincidences that appear in the results.

Get started on your marketing activities, even if one study or one blog post speaks against the idea.

Written by Charlotte Miles

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko.

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