YOU’RE SCARED TO TAKE the next step.

And it’s not even a bet-the-farm situation, where you have to put everything on the line.  This is actually a reasonable decision, but you’re stuck on tradeoffs between different requirements and points of view.

There’s a way to break out of this paralysis.

Scientific researchers run experiments, and huge progress is made.  So let’s do the same thing here.

First, we start by defining exactly what the experiment is.  We’re going to try a new marketing tool.  We’ve heard good things from some people, but there is no certain success for our business.

Second, we set boundaries.  In this case, we’re not going to change our entire marketing strategy.  We’re going to try it for one month, with a product that seems most suitable.  We’ll decide to either add it on top of our other marketing approaches, or replace them, depending on what we can afford.

Third, we decide how success will be measured.   Sure, we want to see sales as a result of this marketing effort.  But is it measurable?  Do we know that the sales are resulting from this new tool versus everything else we’re doing?  Is one month a reasonable time to expect measurable results?

Fourth, we decide what we’ll do with a positive, negative, and unclear result.  This is the final test of whether we’ve scoped a useful experiment: one we can take action on.

Why bother with this?  Because it changes your attitude about moving forward.  You’ve made it a lot less scary and increased the likelihood of a useful result.

Notice that an experiment can come out negative without being a failure.  As long as you learned something useful that helps you move forward, view it as a success.

Is there a decision you’re stuck on?  What experiment would be appropriate?