Probably the most common answer I give to nearly every marketing question I’m asked is “it depends”. While deeply unsatisfying, it’s also the most truthful answer that’s possible for so many questions. Here are a few examples:

What’s the best social network for my business?

It depends. Where are your customers?

Should I join networking groups like BNI or the Chamber of Commerce?

It depends. I work for a company whose ideal audience is the Fortune 500. Most of those folks don’t show up at the local Chamber events. Your ideal audience might be working professionals who attend those kinds of events in droves.

What’s the best time to [insert social media activity]?

It depends. When is your audience actually paying attention to you?

In the beginning stages of any kind of profession or discipline, there are definite right and wrong answers.

Is there a correct way to throw a punch or put on an effective wrist lock? Yes, for beginners, there certainly is. We teach this in the martial arts white belt classes.

Is there a best general rotation for subtlety rogues in World of Warcraft? For beginners, Shadowstep, Ambush, Hemorrhage or Backstab to 5 combo points, and Eviscerate will solve about 90% of your DPS problems.

Rogue

Once you get past the beginner’s stage, however, you get into a territory where the answers aren’t clear cut, and they never, ever will be. Take this as a good sign, a sign that you’ve learned, you’ve grown, you’ve made progress and gotten early gains that have taken you to the next level (literally, in World of Warcraft). Look how the answers change once you have some experience.

Is there a correct way to throw a punch or put on an effective wrist lock? It depends on what your opponent is doing. The correct way to throw a punch at someone charging at you with a machete is very different than the correct way to throw a punch at someone who is wrestling you to the ground.

Is there a best general rotation for subtlety rogues in World of Warcraft? It depends on whether you’re playing PvP or PvE. If it’s PvP, then you have to take into account what your opponent is doing and who they are. You may not want to open with Shadowstep if you’ve got a mage who can blink out at the first sign of trouble. Sap them, open with Ambush, and when they blink, Shadowstep and Gouge or Blind to shut them down.

If you’re asking around with a burning question, and you get “it depends” as an answer, take it as a sign that you need to dig in more and provide more details, more specifics, so that you can get to a better answer. This is a big step, a difficult step for a lot of people who got comfortable with easy questions and answers as a beginner. The more exacting and rigorous you are with your questions, the better and more refined answers you’ll get, answers that will help you to solve your problems and keep you moving forward.

For example, instead of asking, “What’s wrong with my SEO? I’m not getting any results?”, ask very specifically, “I’ve noticed that my site traffic is down primarily in referring sources – search and direct have remained pretty consistent.” That should lead you to the next question, which is, which referring sources are down? Were you getting a lot of traffic from social media sites, and if so, is one of them responsible for the tail-off in traffic? If so, what are you doing differently, or how has your audience changed?

To get better answers, ask better, more refined, more specific questions, and you’ll soon find yourself at levels of skill and insight that you never previously thought possible.


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