Liars Leverage

If your prospects think a problem is not easily solved, you may find it difficult to convince them you can easily solve it .

One of the few must read marketing books is Seth Godin’s All Marketers are Liars, the central thesis of which is that all people tell themselves lies and a good marketer merely agrees with whatever lies are being told. This is well and good when the customers’ lies are sympatico with the product’s value, but causes friction when they are not.

lies-and-truthThis came to light recently when a CMO conclave to which I belong started discussing “big data”, the current marketing and IT hype monster. The consensus among CMOs – right or wrong – is that integrated digital marketing intelligence and analysis is difficult – so durn difficult that only the biggest, bravest and wealthiest of marketing organization are attempting it or doing it well. CMOs as a species see big data marketing analytics as beyond their grasp.

Which must frustrate the heck out of big data vendors.

What does a good marketing strategist do when faced with prospects’ lies beliefs that create friction to sales? The options are too few and a bit tricky:

Inflate the elephant: If the lie prospects tell themselves creates the perception of the problem, make the problem look even bigger (e.g. if you sell security software, make the market think that every server has been hacked). Your perceived expertise and the enlarged sense of dread will motivate blinder acceptance (faith-based marketing if you will).

The politicians’ ploy: Denying the lie prospects tell themselves is a way of confirming it. By confirming the belief, even a negative one, you create agreement between buyer and vendor, which opens a dialogue.

Mockery: Make fun of the prospects’ lie through gentle mocking. Lightly poking a negative perception takes the dread out of the perception and also paints the vendor as unworried. Creatively reducing a perception changes the perception.

Babies take tiny steps: Sometimes the bigger the prospects’ beliefs, the harder it is to make the big sell. Segmented products that can be acquired and implemented piecemeal allow you to change one part of a friction-creating perception at a time.

The one thing you should avoid is tinkering with the self-perception of the prospect. People tell all kinds of flattering lies about themselves, and any of the tactics above are likely to be perceived as insulting. Worse still, if the self-perception is negative, any notice of it amplifies self-loathing and that rarely sells anything except snake oil. But for products, leveraging the perceptions, beliefs and lies prospects tell themselves is key, though where you lay your lever can be a make/break decision.


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