Behaving

My favorite stolen line is that you should never allow customers to engage in unsupervised thinking. As marketers, we are tasked with encouraging specific customer behaviors. Some of these behaviors are rationally based, such as buying software with a known minimal return on investment. Others are completely emotional, such as Volvo suggesting that you are less likely to die a violent automotive death in their cars. Each is designed to get customers to take a specific action, and in complex business-to-business (B2B) sales, this may be a long series of tiny behaviors involving many stakeholders. Unsupervised customers behave as well as unsupervised children. Amazon is in the retail business, not the technology business (that is if you ignore their Elastic Compute Cloud offering). Thus they encourage consumer buying habits. One consumer behavior they need to control is to not allow customers to shop elsewhere – putting Amazon products in customer … Continue reading

Content Discontent

Content Marketing - Effectiveness and Difficulty

All companies, small to large, love and hate content marketing. A recent survey shows that enterprises and small/mid-sized businesses (SMBs) believe content marketing is the most effective inbound tactic. They also rank it as the most difficult. They note that lead nurturing is also tough. This means that they are not achieving their goals, especially at the intersection of content and moving prospects toward buying. I have actually herded cats, and it is simpler than content marketing. Content marketing is important for multiple reasons. It helps you in being found by prospects. Done well, it creates believability and authority in your brand and your products. And used properly, it can nudge a prospect along their path of discovery toward purchase. Yet few individuals or marketing teams have a critical mass of expertise to make content strategy, planning, creation and timing a reality. Even expensive marketing automation suites are useless if … Continue reading

Rational Buyer Apathy

If your prospects seem apathetic, they may be rational. “Rational apathy” is when people perceive a problem to be so small, or the solution to be so enormous that they become apathetic about it. After all, we cannot individually take on every woe in the world. In commerce, rational apathy exists when a problem does not, or the market doesn’t perceive a problem, or solving the problem seems insanely complicated. The word “rational” is included in the concept because prospects are making gut-level decisions concerning their needs and alternative (in)actions. Lackluster concern comes from the perceived effort and benefit in solving the problem, and takes one of many possible forms including but not limited to: No Pain: Prospects perceive that they do not face a threat, the pain within their situation, or that the pain is small enough to endure. Too big to correct: Solving the problem appears to be … Continue reading

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. This 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 … Continue reading

CMO Data Woe

Marketing has met IT, and thus far they are on speaking terms, though nothing lasts forever. I was party to a discussion in which CMOs disclosed what is most vexing to them, and the answer in a walnut shell is data. The promise of digitally tracking leads, automating prospect management throughout the pipeline, big data with supplemental data, and laser sharp analytics is not coming true for most. Truth be told, many are not yet at the starting line. Data, like iron ore, is eventually useful but mining and refining it is dirty work. The problems at this stage of marketing evolution are many, and they provide good check lists and warning signs for CMOs with a hankering to engage IT (who will make many of these items painfully clear). Not everything is digital: Though much of a customer’s buying behavior can be digitally mapped, much cannot. Your brand, non-digital … Continue reading

Content Conundrum

If content is king then some content creators are court jesters. Content marketing is a hot topic, which is odd because marketing has always been about content. Long ago we used to buy expensive ad space in magazines (younger readers may need to Google that word). Television is content and product placements in entertainment are as well. Content has always been the marketing communications medium. The new excitement comes from people hot over the idea that creating gobs of digital content, which has a near zero distribution cost, is a great way to market. Except when producing a slick, urban YouTube video for backwoods survivalists. Content has always required targeting – what content, for which audience and at what point in their buying cycle. Mismatch any of these three elements and you are spending money to create content that won’t work, isn’t consumed, or may even kill sales by inducing … Continue reading

Gutsy

If going with your gut is a good idea, does indigestion affect your decision? A recent eruption on an executives’ forum centered on the role of gut instinct in decision making, which applies to marketing as well. One camp lobbied for using detailed marketing research to make sound and measurable business decisions. The other mob insisted some things are beyond research, and that instincts about market shifts were not to be ignored. Both were right … and wrong. Market research is wonderful. I make good money doing it for businesses around the world. But even reams of quality information may not present the whole picture. When Steve Jobs and crew developed the iPhone, there was a leap of faith concerning the readiness of the market for an entirely new mobile computing paradigm (well, not entirely new … Palm had mastered pocket devices without cellular connections for years). Research might confirm … Continue reading