“It’s not what you think it is”

Marketing is no longer about telling the world how great your products and services are.

Marketing is not what you think it is.
It is more counter-intuitive than you think. 

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” said the legendarey Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt. And actually, we do not even want that hole either ! What we really want is: to hang shelves or frames, and make our home the nicest place on earth. The hole is just a little step in between the product and the experience.

Why then do so many businesses in B2B keep on focussing on selling products and promoting tons of features? And why do so many new product introductions (with incredible features) fail? Depending on the sources you consult, the failure rate is between 70 and 90 percent. Products that fail usually do so because they did not solve a problem.

Instead of telling the world how great your products and features are, you’d better get to know your customers better.

Spend more time studying the customer.  And do so in a counter-intuitive way. 

  1. Analyse your customer failures rather than the success stories. I personally do not think very high of people who do not have a single failure story. It tells me only one thing: they are not very likely to try out new ideas.
  2. Forget about research on customers that buy your product. Instead, do research on prospects who have considered buying your product or service, and then decided to go elsewhere. They can give you valuable information on what your competitor is so great at.
  3. Embrace customers that are p***ed off at you. Try to contact customers who are deeply unhappy with you, or that even hate you. And do everything to make them come back. If you can turn them into happy customers again, they will become your biggest advocates.
  4. Don’t spend much time on your competitors. They are in the same business as you are. They are facing the same challenges. Moreover, competitive analysis will not tell you a thing about their future plans!
  5. Look outside your market or industry. Players in adjacent or different markets may have a business model or strategic principles that could work in your industry, but that you didn’t think of yet. This alternative way of thinking can lead to a breakthrough for your business.
  6. And finally admit that CRM is not boring. CRM is the holy grail of marketing and sales, but only if you do it right. Collecting the data is one thing. The easy part of the story so to speak. Using some common sense and studying the right bits of the data to get the maximum out of it, is another thing.

So, a great marketing strategy is counter-intuitive. It does not focus on selling products or services. It focusses on solving customer problems or anticipating future needs. 

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