You Can’t Say No To Everyone

Two years ago, when I wrote the book on setting marketing priorities, inherent in the book, but not specifically discussed in detail, was the need to ignore a lot of marketing opportunities.

In theory, it's easy to do this. But in practice, it's more complicated — at least, for me.

When I was in college, applying for marketing internships in extremely creative ways but never hearing anything back, I vowed that when I was a marketing professional, I would always reply to everyone who contacted me, even if only to say no. "Saying no is better than saying nothing at all," I thought.

But then I became a professional marketer and realized that's just not possible. There just isn't enough time in the day to respond to every opportunity. From marketing vendor inquiries, donation requests, and people looking to network or land a job, I could easily spend my entire day just saying no.

This is Hard for Me
I struggle with this. I'm a nice guy and I want to pay things forward.

My instinct is to reply to everyone about every opportunity. Some people are good at ignoring opportunities and requests. I am not. It has taken practice.

Sometimes I break down and call or write someone back who is really persistent — just to tell them no. Almost every time, I regret that decision.
  • "I just want to meet you for coffee for 30 minutes. You can spare 30 minutes for a fellow alum, right?"
  • "Our cancer foundation really needs your help. A donation of any size makes a difference." 
Nearly every time I respond to say no, I end up spending even more time explaining why. Nobody wants to hear no.

Add This To Your To-Do List
As a marketer, you need to feel comfortable in ignoring opportunities that aren't critical to your business or your professional development. (Struggling to know what marketing opportunities are the most important? Read my book.)

On the flip side, if you're a person whose job it is to get marketers to say yes (like my job at Google was for four years), you need to make your pitch relevant and impactful.

There's never a lack of ideas.

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