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  • Writer's pictureMichael Ridgewell

Monty Python, & The Top 3 Reasons Why Top 5 Lists Are Driving Me Crazy

Vanyerchuck, Godin, Sinek, Kawasaki, Gladwell, Covey, Palin, Cleese, Chapman. Now, you may be thinking “Some of these things are not like the others”, but business inspiration and leadership tips can come from a variety of interesting sources.


In this case, the Monty Python team offered me a great case study in the film, Monty Python & The Holy Grail.


There is a scene where Arthur and his Knights have to cross the Bridge of Death by answering three questions. Arthur defeats the guardian of the bridge with a question of his own. When asked what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow, Arthur asks for clarification – does he mean an African or European swallow?


This makes me smile for a number of reasons, especially as subject matter experts can often see levels of detail not visible to casual observers when they explore the world of CRM.


From a CRM perspective, King Arthur’s dialogue with the Guardian may be as follows:


  • What is the open rate of email? (It depends - what is the mail quantity and composition of the file by recency & audience affinity?)

  • How does that campaign benchmark against the competition? (It depends, did they have similar goals, creative, offers, timing, etc.?)

  • Why do you question the winning response rate to this campaign? (It may have a higher response, but was the the cost-per-response higher, or lower?)


Now, I’m all for keeping things clean and easy, but at some point over-simplification does not allow for the true nuances to enable decision making, the right next best action, the right course correction, and more.


And that is why is am getting tired of Top Five lists. We live in a world of data-driven personalization, where one size no longer fits all, so dumbing down interesting issues to bite sized pieces of untargeted click bait is wearing thin. With a hint of irony, here’s why:


  1. Most lists are too obvious and are too generic. What happened to nuance? Not everything is simple – our businesses have many unique layers of complexity that result in the sale, the lean-in, the referral, or whatever other reaction we are trying to solicit. I’d love to see segmentation for beginners, intermediate, or veterans, at the very least, versus a one-size-fits-all approach. CRM teams are expected to deliver the right message, to the right audience, at the right time. List maker content providers should do the same.


  1. As business leaders, I feel we must encourage asking more questions. Complex business problems, management tips, mentorship insights are solved through dialogue, not cookie-cutter quick fixes. I’d rather discuss and understand exactly what I am meant to be solving for, then find the appropriate solutions.


  1. Lastly, call me old fashioned, but if I tap / click on a link to an article, I expect to read an article. So what’s with the constant interruptions? Like my page requests, sign up for a newsletter, takeovers, ads… Unless there is data to show otherwise, how is that a decent customer journey? Let me read the article or watch the content. If I decide I like it, I am more likely to want to subscribe to more. The other way round is like asking for a Yelp review before I’ve eaten the food.


Am I alone in this? What do you think?


In the meantime, I’m off to go watch Life of Brian. Perhaps it will make my Top Five film list ;)

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