Cure is better than prevention

by | Oct 12, 2017 | Actionable SEO Tips

You’ve heard the advice almost from birth.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Brush your teeth and avoid the dentist. Service your car regularly to save costly visits to the mechanic. Stretch before you work-out to avoid injury.

Prevention is better than cure.

It’s logical. If we’re proactive now we’ll benefit in the long run. In theory, that makes perfect sense.

But people don’t always make sense.

We want a few drinks tonight….and suffer the consequences later. There’s a reason Alka Seltzer and antacids sell so well. We all want the instant cure.

In practise we’re not all as smart as Benjamin Franklin. And besides, he never had hot wings in his day.

Try telling a two year old who’s just taken a tumble that it’s better not to run down a steep hill. You don’t. You patch him up with a band-aid and give him a hug.

You fix the immediate problem in front of you.

The truth is, cure is often much better than prevention in the real world. Especially when it comes to selling something.

People want solutions. They want a quick fix and instant success.

Emotions rule over logic

It’s counter intuitive, but people’s rational side is often trumped by the emotional.

We usually won’t admit it (or even be conscious of it) but we make decisions based on an emotional response. Then we use logic to justify that decision.

My wife is insanely organised. She has the Christmas presents ordered months in advance, at the best prices. Most people aren’t that diligent. And they’re prepared to pay for premium same day shipping as a result.

Our health businesses usually find copy that focuses on cures always outperforms anything that’s trying to make a case for prevention.

A 35 year old doesn’t want to eat better to live 10 years longer. Death is a long way away. They’d rather have that greasy burger and beer and take their chances. And for the 65 year old…well perhaps that ship has sailed…they just want the easy solution that fixes their aching joints now.

Personally, I feel the most critical takeaways should be around the advice we had for diversification and avoiding your ads getting disapproved. I actually made the point of saying prevention is better than cure.

Avoid big claims. Create multiple ad accounts. Invest in a range of ad platforms and build your SEO strategy. Employ a variety of campaigns, creatives, and offers.

Hopefully many people did take that advice. But the number one reason most people probably tuned in was because Facebook just banned their ad account or they remember the pain of a latest Google AdWords account suspension.

They want to cure a current problem.

I get it. We’re busy. We focus our immediate time on the most pressing issues….even if we sometimes should be looking further into the future to be proactive.

Learning to fail fast

I’m as guilty as anyone. Many years ago I learned it the hard way.

We had a good website with solid traffic and solid conversions. Things were going fine. Until they weren’t.

We got hit by Google’s “Panda” algorithm update.

Our traffic fell off a cliff. I felt like jumping after it.

If I’d been more focused on SEO, I may have been better prepared and avoided this significant problem.

But it’s no good closing the gate after the horse has bolted. Worrying about a long term SEO strategy was not my immediate concern. I just needed to figure out how to get our traffic and conversion back and stable again.

The answer, it turned out, was to hire a specialist, someone smarter and more experienced than me at SEO. In this case the “cure” was to fix a huge number of site errors. Only then, did this wakeup call turn my focus to building a longer term strategy.

It ended up being a blessing in disguise. We were eventually able to double then triple the traffic and conversions prior to the Panda slap.

But it took the need to find a cure for the pain to get serious about the prevention.

It’s probably not the ideal situation. But it’s the reality.

Besides, we shouldn’t always try to avoid problems. Kids need to get sick to build up their immunity. We need to make mistakes to learn from them.

Our mantra at The Agora is to fail fast. Bill Bonner, the founder of Agora, often refers to us as a learning machine. You can’t learn if you’re not prepared to make a few mistakes.

Ready, Fire…Aim

Mark Ford’s book “Ready, Fire, Aim” (which we’ve adopted for our website and e-letter) has similar advice. We shouldn’t overthink the consequences and not be prepared to take a few risks.

(Editor’s note: very excited that Mark Ford will feature on our next Agora Marketing Masters webinar. We’ll be talking to him about his legacy in helping build The Agora and what he sees for the future of the business. He’s also agreed to have a Q&A session at the end. This will be a rare chance for all AMM members to get access to a true copywriting and marketing legend).

But even for someone as experienced, and organised, as Mark, I’m sure he has immediate business challenges that often take priority for him too. It’s the nature of the beast. We try to plan ahead but are forced to deal with the more pressing issues in front of us.

I’m sure you are no different.

So, what’s your single biggest pain-point keeping you up at night?

Please email me and let me know — what’s the #1 biggest business or marketing challenge facing you, right now?

Or, if you prefer, join this conversation I started on the FB group.

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