The Marketing Guy

Rooting for Good Marketing Since 2009

Ensuring your Marketing is not “One Size Fits All”

Many marketing departments these days are masters at churning out fact sheets, product demonstrations, customer references, and execute a PowerPoint presentations with the best of them. But if you ever get out to the field and spend time with the people selling the product—the people whose salary depends on closing the deal—you’ll find that the marketing materials they use and need can differ greatly vs. the corporate bill of materials that gets refreshed on a yearly basis.

As such, those of us in a corporate marketing function are often guilty of the worst marketing crime—not understanding our customer—when we continue to produce the same materials over and over without a thought as to the customer behavior at different points of the sales cycle. We somehow forget that what they need move from a person doing research on the web to a full-blown prospect to a customer is vastly different. Why then doesn’t our marketing reflect this fact?

Sometimes it’s due to our requirement to drive marketing to a common denominator of delivery—after all, everyone wants to know about our product’s features, it’s pricing, who else is using it, and why it’s better than the competition, right? Well, yes. But often times not all at once. In the traditional sales funnel, throwing all of our marketing in at the top layer and not saving anything for the last meeting when you really need it can be the difference between providing the compelling reason to purchase, and a lost deal.

If you haven’t had the chance lately, I’d highly recommend doing some shadow work with some of your sales reps—inside and telesales, a sales specialist, the account manager, the technical product manager, whoever is on the front lines of dealing with your customer. What you’ll find is that they use marketing very differently depending on where the customer is in the sales cycle, saving their ace in the hole—which could be their best reference, special pricing, or advance access, just for the right minute when they need it. They never give everything away up front. So why do we do that with our marketing plans?

Although it will take some extra time, your ability to customize the message for the right time you’re engaging with the customer is often the key to standing out from the competition. Think about your customer buying cycle—how many different stages do they go through before they pull the trigger? When have they made the “mental” decision to purchase and transition from research to validation of their choice? And more importantly, how does this transition from buying stage to buying stage impact the marketing materials and strategies you should employ?

Those teams operating on all cylinders know that marketing in today’s marketing environment is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The need to nurture a prospect over many months and through many early buying stages differs greatly when the purchase decision is ready to be made. Excellence in marketing demands that we are not only able to recognize the difference between stages of the buying cycle, but are able to strategize and execute our plans to win these customers to our side.

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