Maddening Messages

Want to drive your competitors insane (assuming they are not already)? A recent thread exploded on a CMO web site asking the basic question “What do you do that drives your competitors crazy?” Most of the answers were pap, lazily resting on vague superlatives such as “listen to our customers” and “being honest”. I chimed in (of course) with my favorite “poisoning the well”, which does not imply spiking competitor water coolers with toxic substances. Marketers tend to focus on one key customer stakeholder persona. They put 80% or more of their effort into recruiting the job title they believe will cause a company to buy their product. This is not a bad strategy, but when you have two or more competitors grooming the same stakeholder, getting their attention becomes increasingly impossible. If you are coming from behind, it may be useless. The counter strategy (and a good primary strategy … Continue reading

Mixed Messaging

If you want to delay sales and distort your brand, just mix a few messages. This came to light recently when a client needed to recast their brand, desiring their prospects to simultaneously feel relieved and excited. Though not entirely mutually exclusive, they are on opposite ends of the adrenaline spectrum. One might feel excited about the prospect of being relieved, but that is as close as these two concepts come. When a customer encounters you for the first time, they have to believe something about you. Even if they are skeptical, they must have in their hearts some notion about the value they would derive from giving you money. These value propositions, communicated in words, images, colors, videos and other modes can never be complicated (there isn’t enough time or customer patience) and they cannot be contradictory (“we will make you sexy and saintly”). For B2B companies, this is … Continue reading

Noise Canceling

Market squares have always been noisy places. I don’t care if it is a bazaar in Kabul or an Amazon customer discussion group. Whenever there are buyers and sellers, it gets loud. This is a problem for marketers. Basic communications theory says that there is a transmitter (the marketer), a receiver (the buyer) and noise in between. The more noise there is the less signal (your marketing messages) that get through to the buyer. The internet has made the situation both better and worse. Good marketers can precisely target their buyers in digital media. The problem is so can lousy marketers. Your perfect solution for a buyer’s point problem will not be heard if you are one of a million inbound messages. People aggressively filter, preferring the lost opportunity of hearing your message to the alternative of not hearing everybody’s message. With so many products and services being sold non-stop … Continue reading