As I watch and listen to the debate over health care, I find it interesting, and somewhat frustrating, that there are so many complaints by each party that the other party is ignoring ideas they feel strong about. I believe the general public sincerely recognizes that reform must occur, but, in a responsible way. Yet, now that the Obama administration has to basically start over, I do not hear anything fundamentally different. This tells me one of two things: 1) the goal of getting any reform is better than no reform, or, 2) someone is not listening. And so the debate, the Tea parties et al go on.
Thinking about this in marketing terms is easy. It’s like a company that shouts louder to get you to pay attention rather than changing what they are saying. I’m curious how the debate would unfold if politics were removed. My guess is that the best ideas that are heard would prevail. Now, when I think about listening in my world, I reflect on the customers I work with and companies I worked for. Same situation. Of all the companies I’ve worked with as a Marketing Consultant, none of them actually ever asked their customers for their opinion. Some did quality surveys, but, none actually did surveys to understand why customers do business with them, why they chose them in the first place, what was their criteria, what problems did they help solve or what they could do going forward to offer more value. Seems amazing to me so few seek customers input. Yet, I’m asked all the time “how can I get my message to resonate?”, “where should I invest my marketing dollars?” The answer is in your customers head. So, if you’re frustrated with new business revenue, I suggest you ask your customers several thoughtful questions to gain the insight you need to understand why they do business with you and how better serve them. Otherwise, you’re guessing and speculating - very expensive.
I’m curious what others think. How do you listen to your marketplace? How do you know where to invest? You’re comments and thoughts are welcome!
At a recent Interactive Marketing Summit conference held in St. Louis, I attended a session on SEO. Of the many topics discussed, one of the basics is the Page Title of any web page. The presenters stressed the importance of having unique Page Titles for each page on the site and that the title contain key words - not the company name - although the company name could be included at the end of the Page Title. This is important because search engine robots read and index, at least in part, web pages starting with the Page Title and they look for key words or relevant terms. Company names are not generally searched by people. So, if the Page Title begins with the company name, it will not index well. Again, this is basic but, it triggered a thought.
If you pick up any paper or directory (Yellow Pages) you’ll find that most ads will have the company name in a prominent position at the top of the ad. In fact, many ads devote 20% to 30% of the space of the ad to the company name. This is a mistake, just like having the company name dominate the Page Title of a web page. People searching for anything generally will search based on specific context, such as “interactive marketing” or, “Plumbers” (just for fun, look up “Plumbers” in the Yellow Pages - you’ll see mean about company name dominating).
The lesson here is whether you’re promoting your business online or offline, or both, begin the ad (or web page) with something relevant to the reader. And, the more relevance to the emotions of the reader, the more likely you’ll grab their attention. After all, if you don’t grab their attention at the beginning, you’ll likely never get them to read the rest of the ad. This could waste a lot of money. This concept applies to most all marketing material -not just ads.
Then, once you get their attention, then…well… maybe that’s a subject of another article.
My wife and I are pet lovers. We have an 11 month old yellow Labrador - what a bundle of energy! The other day I was out playing with her, trying to get her to learn how to fetch a ball. I had a fair amount of success. But, when she got a little tired, I had to go to her to get the ball back (I know there are trainers out there that would tell me not to do that). When I did go to her, she would run away. The more I chased her, the more she ran - I’m sure she thought this was part of the game. So, I stopped chasing her. I grabbed another toy of hers and went the opposite direction. This made her curious. Then, she stared pursuing me. Now, I was back in control, at least somewhat.
I thought about this later in the day and realized there is a correlation here in terms of marketing to customers or prospects. Advertisers are always chasing customers. The problem is, the marketplace doesn’t really care about our interests - only theirs. So, no matter how much you pursue them, unless they have a real need, your message will likely be ignored. However, if your message creates a curiosity, you’ll have a better chance to gain interest and perhaps a chance to have a conversation.
With this in mind, pay attention to a recent advertisement, email or marketing message. Does the message focus on the company - or - does it focus on your needs, interests or benefits? Does it engage you with something of specific personal interest? My bet is that if you evaluated ten ads, emails or marketing messages, less than 3 would be truly customer focused.
What’s your experience? Who’s doing the chasing in your world? I’d be interested in your feedback or comments. Or, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org