Believe This

Try forcing a stranger to believe something they have never heard of before, or to abandon a belief they have held for years. Odds are you will fail at both. “Belief” is understanding without knowledge, facts or proof. Yet humans have many complex belief systems firmly rooted in air. This is not inherently bad. Beliefs guide actions, and if beliefs are noble, then good things occur. But beliefs are also firmly rooted in the mind – trying to uproot beliefs (at least in the short term) is like trying to pull a redwood tree out of the ground with your bare hands. Belief systems are important to humans and to marketers. For humans, belief systems are shortcuts to understanding life, the universe and everything. The belief doesn’t even have to be correct as long as it provides a person with a grasp on their perception of reality. This is one … Continue reading

Handling Influencers

A guest post by David Greer and excerpted in part from his book Wind In Your Sails. Buying power has shifted from companies to purchasers. There is too much information available today on the Internet for anyone to think they can hide information from buyers. While buyers always had a process, in the past marketers could get away without knowing those processes in exacting detail. Today you cannot market and sell without knowing how your prospects buy and what are the key drivers for them to make a change. In the middle of the sales process, strategic thinking has an incredibly important part to play. In order to understand a prospect’s buying process, you must start with the numerous stakeholders. Many of them have veto power in the process. In my book, Wind In Your Sails: Vital Strategies That Accelerate Your Entrepreneurial Success I feature the strategies that Guy Smith (head … Continue reading

Branding Three-step

Book marketing is one of the oddest, yet normal marketing jobs one can have (and this doesn’t include the rapidly evolving digital, post-book-store world Amazon created and dominates). Selling books is a good case study in the fundamentals of brand marketing. Awareness, belief and validation are all steps in the decision chain buyers have. With books, this plays out in a lot of uncommon ways, though the end goals remain the same. Starting with the author’s platform, the first step is to build awareness.  A great deal of typical PR goes into a publisher backed book, making the entire market aware that the book exists and has an alleged value or differentiation (that there is not a dimes worth of value or differentiation between typical romance novels shows that marketing can overcome reality). Pre-release excerpts from books create awareness, but also set the stage for the next mandatory book/brand market … Continue reading

Marketing Truthiness

Honesty is one of the better policies. While recently chatting with a legendary Silicon Valley CEO, we spoke about his company’s documented culture. The first two pillars of their shared ethics were honesty and integrity (which go hand-in-hand). In his semiconductor industry, honesty and integrity are occasionally vague terms, yet his company has thrived by dealing with employees, suppliers and customers with rather unshakable decency. More marketers should follow his example. Like politicians, some marketers have found creative ways of distorting the truth. Eschewing outright lies, they lean more heavily upon vague generalities, measured over-selling and promising support that never fully materializes. This short-sighted approach produces short-term results with long-term ruin. Marketing dishonesty can lift revenues. People will buy products on a false promise, but only once. If a marketer wants to bump this quarter’s numbers, inaccurate promotions can shift a few fence-sitting prospects into the “win” column. But the … Continue reading

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

Focused Reception

Both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett declared that the ability to focus was key to their success. Focus is also a key to success in marketing, but it is less about your focus and more about your customer’s. Every buyer, be they consumers or business buyers, has a focus. We all filter, and with the multitude of media options and an endless stream of marketing messages flooding them, people are creating more and better filters daily. Much has been written about getting “above the noise” just so you can be heard, and it is not unsound advice. However, it misses the sweeter approach of quietly standing directly in the field of your buyer’s focus. Take your standard IT geek (please). They tend to be insanely focused, driven by technical prowess, to dig deeply into a topic for days on end. Coders can program for 24 or more hours provided there … Continue reading

Copy Wronging

Marketing copywriters are like novelists: they don’t like critics. During a recent client copywriting process, I tighten reins on a copywriter who had soared off the cliffs of bombastic prose, painting the client as a little too good to be true. This otherwise bright and competent copywriter, evidently distracted thinking about his unfinished novel, had peppered his newly wrought copy with words that created a sense of disbelief. Such words are easy to spot … just look at the “about us” page of any funded start-up. When you see “market leading”, “disruptive” and “compelling”, then they likely are none of the above and you immediately sense it. Words can trigger emotions, and good copywriters – armed with a competent branding guide – will select the right words to evoke the right emotion. Word churners (a polite word for “hack”) often pick easy and dramatic sounding words in an attempt to … Continue reading