Three steps? We’re working on it.

Anyone who has had to sit through one of my training sessions will know that I’m a really big fan of Seth Godin.

His insights into marketing and customer behaviour are packed with common sense and desire for top spot on the podium rather than the disconsolate walk back to the changing room.

I’ve been reading a collection of his blog posts in his book small is the new Big and came across one entitled secrets to success yesterday.  You can go to the link to see the whole thing, which I would heartily recommend, but in the meantime here is the one point that really got me thinking:

“Desire to be three steps ahead. One step is easy. One step isn’t enough. If you’re only one step ahead, you’ll get creamed before you launch. Two steps is tempting. Two steps means that everyone understands what you’re up to when you pitch them. Two steps means that you can get funded in no time. Two steps is a problem. It’s a problem because the smart guys are three steps ahead. They’re the groundbreakers and the pathfinders. They’re the ones inventing the next generation. It’s harder to sell, harder to build and harder to get your mother-in-law to understand, but that’s what’s worth building.”

From now on we’re going to be aiming for three steps, and encouraging our clients to do the same.

hellen @ missioncontrol

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Moving on from simplex marketing

A friend sent a great email this week in response to a message they received from us.

The information we gave them prompted an internal discussion about the power of new marketing tools to create a dialogue with customers where the emphasis really was on listening to what they want and then delivering the goods.

For many organisations this concept remains an anathema.  The marketing department, guided by management and other stakeholders, creates a brand and creative concept.  They then create a customer profile based on the assumptions around which they built the branding, then the list is bought or built and the message delivered.  Then they sit and wait.  And wait. And wait.

This simplex method of marketing no longer works very well.  Not least because technology has made the customer more savvy and more time-poor.  Clients don’t have the time to listen to generic messages, nor do they have the inclination to be told what they should be doing.  They know that you have the capability to talk to them and treat them like an individual, so anything else falls short of the mark.

Seth Godin, who is arguably our favourite marketing guru, also calls this the needle and the vice principle.  For some organisations they discover exactly who their customer is and they deliver a pinpoint accurate message, not worried if the total number of people they are talking to is in the handfuls rather than the thousands.  For others they use a general ‘squeeze’ approach, surrounding their target market with a forceful argument until one or more gives in.

By contrast, the simplex approach simply misses everything because it isn’t entirely sure who it is talking to and the recipients don’t feel inclined to respond.

So where do we go from here?  A little bit of bravery is in order.  Ditch the ‘got to have a database of 1000’s’ approach and work out exactly how many key prospects you actually want to talk to then strike up an interesting conversation.