When Best Practices May Not Be Best


Share on LinkedIn

Many companies are obsessed with learning about best practices for their industry and creating a roadmap that mirrors those practices within their own strategies. We look to analysts, the tier 1 companies within our industries, vendors who solve problems we struggle with and whoever is getting the most media coverage on a subject we want to own. Based upon what they’re doing, we think – Gotta get me some of that!

Best practices essentially have two parts:

  • First is the theory, methodology and high level thinking that used to create and support the practice.
  • Second is the execution of the first.

Best practices are appealing because they’re usually based on something known to produce a desirable outcome. The downside is that those outcomes happen for the entity that developed and executed on that best practice.

Unless your company is exactly like that company, then adopting that practice as-is may not produce those results for you. But even more concerning is that your differentiation can be diminished if you’re seen as a wannabe or imitator of the developer of the best practice.

When this happens is when we lose track of what we’re trying to achieve and allow best practices to turn into hero worship. Imitation is not the best use for best practices.

Consider tossing out the 2nd part and focusing on the first. If you take a best practice and analyze the ideas and methodology behind them, what do you see?

Once you’ve done that, think carefully about how what you’ve discovered applies to you and your company.

Ask yourself a few questions:

Can you add in some of your own secret sauce to put a spin on a best practice that more closely aligns with what differentiates your company?

In what ways do your target markets differ from the source of the best practice? Based on those differences, how can you shift the best practice to align with what your company provides?

What’s your company’s distinctive value? Will adopting this best practice amplify or detract from that?

If you put the best practice into use, what will need to change? Culture, process, messaging, positioning, etc. Or what might change that you wouldn’t want to change?

What do you expect to get from the best practice? Is that achievable? At what cost?

Another Way

Appreciate best practices for what they are and learn from them.

Figure out how your company’s expertise can become a best practice and put that out there for others to learn from and model. That’s part of being a thought leader within your industry.

We all have best practices, we just fail to recognize that when we’re too close to them. Then we get sucked into thinking that the grass will be greener if we can just get what someone else has by doing what they do.

Best practices are great. I’ve even got a few of them up my sleeve. But, like everything else, they must continuously evolve to establish longevity as a best practice. How I do things today is not like how I did them a year ago.Today is better based on all I’ve learned in the last year and how I’ve incorporated those insights.

How are you building best practices for marketing your company?

What would you do differently?

Just a little something I’ve been thinking about lately.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist and the CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. She helps B2B companies with complex sales create and use persona-driven content marketing strategies to turn prospects into buyers and convince customers to stay. Ardath is the author of Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. She's also an in-demand industry speaker.


  1. Amen. It’s so refreshing to see a common sense approach to best practice: Take what you see, fiddle with it, own it.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here