Archive for January, 2013

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We love it when marketing myths get exposed.  So when a team of consultants at the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) revealed these results from a recent study, we were intrigued to see a couple of generally accepted marketing 2.0 truisms debunked.
CEB surveyed 7,000 people and learned that buyers really don’t want a “relationship” with brands despite what a lot of New Age marketers would have us believe. What’s more, the theory that a company can somehow build-up this mythical relationship by interacting more often with customers was also rejected. Turns out that when it comes to customer interaction, more is not necessarily better and can often be worse.
While the study focused on consumer brands, in our experience and to our way of thinking there’s a stark message here for B2B marketers: know who’s who in your own customer base — and distinguish those who may be relationship-minded vs. everyone else.

There is no linear relationship between volume of outbound messages and the elusive thing that CEB terms “share of wallet”. Interaction that may seem reasonable and even informative to some buyers will be irksome to others. Takeaway: instead of hammering all prospects and customers alike with endless messages intended to get their attention, carefully consider if the content of your message promises value to your prospects’ research in your category — or just adds to their overload.

The trick is to know exactly what your existing buyers perceived in your value proposition that was consistent with their idea of value. This enables you to flavor future content with the most relevant, like-minded ideas. It’s reality-based marketing, not mythology.

 

(This post also appeared today in The Write Stuff, the blog of Write Angle technology writing services)

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In the Seinfeld comedy series, the Elaine character had a running gag about whether a guy was or wasn’t “sponge-worthy”.  Based on the buzz at CES this week, the hype-worthiness of the offerings is equally problematic.  Seems that killer products are, not unlike truly great athletes or musicians (or sponge-worthy partners for Elaine), pretty rare.  Wired magazine’s Mark McClusky makes the point in a recent piece about the apparent dearth of outsize ideas in Silicon Valley today.  And who can argue? Those of us who can recall the advent of personal computers, the dawn of networking, and the emergence of search engines and smartphones can’t help looking back in awe at those breakthroughs.  They seemed to happen with a regularity and frequency unknown today.

We’ve arrived a moment when “outsize ideas” and the innovations they spawned have given way to something far less hype-able.  In economic terms the old model of building a company, taking it public and then striving to churn out killer products happily ever after has been supplanted by the current era in which the new, new thing is essentially the new add-on or the new social game.  While cloud computing and Big Data have re-made the digital world in which a lot of people have grown extravagantly wealthy, how sustainable is it?  How much real wealth and how many jobs will more apps and add-ons actually create for the rest of us? In McClusky’s view: “Sooner or later, we’ll have more add-ons than things that need to be added on to, and more solutions to small problems than there are small problems”.

The world has never been in greater need of changes-for-the-better.  It’s time for some outsize thinking about how to product-ize these changes.  Now that would be worth the hype.

When Stan DeVaughn isn’t venting in this blog, he and Peter Davé at Write Angle ensure that technology companies prove it — as opposed to hype it — in all marketing content.

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This piece on the CES extravaganza in Las Vegas prompts us at Write Angle to caution our fellow marketers on the PR front — at least those who can’t help hitting the hype keys on their notebooks, desktops or tablets as their clients launch new offerings. Says Benny Evangelista of the San Francisco Chronicle: “…So for the past few weeks, public relations representatives have been sending a deluge of press releases on behalf of their clients, whether they make iPhone cases or Ultra HD monitors. One press release, for example, breathlessly alerted us that a client would be showing ‘the biggest product of 2013 at CES and this would be a great opportunity for you to get special sneak peak before it goes public!’ That is, of course, if it ever does go public.”

Fact is, customers are up to here with technology today They’re skeptical of gaudy, breathless claims.  As never before, we’re in a time when people want marketers to prove it, not hype it. Buyers will always reward the manufacturer who finds a real need and fills it.  The key is to communicate a genuine value proposition in language that is straightforward and compelling.  As we’ve seen time and again, value is determined by users, not the horn-blowers at showtime. How does your marketing team purge hype from proof?  How do you vet language in marketing content? How does your brand ensure that it doesn’t become grist for reporters’ humor mills?