From the Blogosphere
The Most Important Marketing Question
By: Rebel Brown
Jul. 16, 2009 09:00 PM
I was listening to a product launch webinar early this morning. The speakers were droning on and on about technology and architecture and innovation. Not a customer benefit in sight - other than the usual generic claims of 'market leading' performance,' unmatched' reliability, 'next generation' features and all the other 'me toos'.
To be fair, the vendor was presenting the product facts quite well. But they were leaving it to their listeners to sift through the technology claims to apply its capabilities to their own situation.
This is a high risk approach. Especially if your competitors are sharing powerful stories that hits those listeners right between their eyes.
The simple fact is that marketing is not about you. It's about your customers and how your company or solution can help them be successful in their business.
You're probably thinking "But I have customer success stories." Sure you do. But most of the success stories I read follow the same basic format:
Look at your own case studies. My bet is that you will have to look hard to find evidence of customer value other than those related to your technical claims. What you will most likely learn is how great your technology fit into the customer infrastructure, how technologically advanced it is, how fast and reliably it performed and how easy it was to program or manage. And some generic customer statements that could be said about your competitors.
If you don't believe me - try this:
To be a successful Phoenix, we marketers need to start thinking and speaking in the context of the customer's world.
How do you add this layer of messaging to drive home the full power of your technology?
There's an easy method that I've used for two decades. For every claim in your positioning matrix, ask yourself one simple question.
What does this mean to my customer? What specifically does my solution allow them to accomplish, resolve or change that is a good thing for their business? What's in it for them?
Answer the "So What?" question from your customers' perspective. To be most effective, answer it as if you were talking to a businessman, not the technical user. ***
Here's a really simple example to help you get the gist of a 'So What?" thought process.
The Claim: "Our software delivers 4x the performance of the competition thanks to industry leading architecture and highly optimized design."
The So What?: Try some of these statements on for size.
Yes, the above examples could be much more exacting wrt specific customer impacts - I know that. It's hard to speak marketing specifics in a 'generic' vacuum. Unless you go back to technology claims:)
I'm hopeful you'll still get my point.
Great marketing answers the 'So What?' question for your prospects and customers.
In every client session, I start by writing 'So What?' on a whiteboard. That way all I have to do is point to it when the techno babble and chest thumping starts.
You'd be amazed how quickly people start to ask themselves the question before they speak - after I make a few simple gestures toward the sign and we all laugh (as everyone gets the point.)
And from there, a customer-centric marketing story is born.
*** For all the technology marketers who are rolling their eyes, thinking I don't get it. Think again.
But technical users are usually not decision makers. And the CIO is a business executive, now more than ever. Only in rare occasions is the buying decision based solely on technology. If that were the case - we wouldn't need marketing, now would we? So start thinking beyond the technology if you want to create sustainable leadership and differentiation. Start asking yourselves "So what?"
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