In marketing passion is a virtue
We just don’t care
Companies like to think everyone wants to know about their products and services. This is a delusion. In reality, the vast majority of people on this planet don’t know about your company and don’t care. It’s harsh but true. We’re all too busy. There are too many brands competing for our time and attention. In response we’ve all become expert filters and avoiders. We’ve learned to dodge the slickest marketing and advertising campaigns. The instincts that once saved us from the sabre-toothed tiger now alert us to unwanted sales calls, surveys and offers.
Nowhere on Google
The heyday of mass broadcast media and interruption marketing is gone. Instead we have Google. Who doesn’t use Google to find the answer to almost any question they might have these days? However, 73% of Google searchers never go beyond the first page of results according to Fusion 360. Another survey showed that 94% of Google users click on a first page result while only 6% do the same on a second page. In other words, the top of page two is nowhere. So, what’s a marketer to do? You can throw time, money and expertise at search marketing, but only if you have it. Certainly today’s marketers can better target smaller, more refined groups. We can produce detailed customer personas that give us the cues for engagement, but that’s all. How do you convince people to spend one minute of their precious time engaging with your brand?
People hate cold calls because they’re an unwanted intrusion into our work time or personal space. So, it’s hardly surprising that people resent brands that encroach into the digital places we like to inhabit from social networking sites to online games. It’s annoying. It feels like spam.
No more solution sales
When I first started working in the tech sector we used to promote software with impressive lists of features, functionality and benefits. Later, we replaced feature lists with solution selling. Vendors identified the problems and offered solutions – simple. Nowadays the customer is ahead of the curve. Now companies define solutions for themselves. They have more sophisticated procurement processes and easy access to all the data they need to make informed purchase decisions.
A CEB study of over 1,400 B2B customers across industries showed that 57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer ever talks to a potential supplier. Marketing and sales must engage with prospects much earlier. We must offer prospects valuable insights, challenge their conventions and assumptions. We must offer them opportunities to learn something new. Nevertheless, as much as we’d like to think purchase decisions are made analytically and rationally, they’re not. Emotion has just as much influence over business decision-making as it does over our personal preferences and choices.
B2B brand communications have largely been governed by the belief that business purchasing is soulless, hardnosed and an entirely logical process. That’s forgetting that people are still at the centre of the buying decision. However, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio believes emotions play a fundamental role in all our decision-making including the choices we make at work. Along with all the memories that we store up over a lifetime are the positively and negatively charged associations called somatic markers. Every time we call on our memories and experiences to help us make a decision the emotional associations come along for the ride. The really sneaky thing about this is the positive or negative emotions incorporate themselves into our supposedly rational decision-making.
Neuroscience shows that we emotionally connect with brands that have a compelling story to tell, and make a point of sharing it with us. We can bombard prospects with facts, figures, product benefits and discounts but none of that will necessarily compel them to buy what we’re selling. On the other hand, brands that genuinely communicate their passion for what they do can successfully engage us, and make that emotional connection.
Certain brands have been able to build up years of positive somatic moments with consumers such as Disney, Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Nike and Cadbury. These brands have consistently demonstrated high levels of customer engagement and have great stories to tell. Other brands seem to find it just as easy to create negative somatic markers due to poor product design and lousy customer service.
Slave to passion
We might like to think we’re rational creatures but the reverse is true. We are dominated by the older, more developed emotional part of our brains known as the limbic system. In many ways we are defined by our emotions and passions. In the UK we certainly have a passion for pets, for example. The UK pet trade was worth £2.7 billion last year. Astonishingly, Britons buy around 6.5 million reptiles annually, making them more popular than dogs. My own pet passion is for giant terrestrial (ground dwelling) tarantulas. I’m a member of a much larger world-wide community of people with a passion for pet spiders. You’ll find us in online forums, invitation-only Facebook groups, on tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, Google Plus and YouTube. Finding us is one thing. Successfully engaging with us is something else.
Whatever line of business you’re in, first, you need to discover where your target customers choose to spend their time online, such as LinkedIn groups. Having found them, you need to listen carefully to the conversations they’re having. Do they share the same opinion about where their industry is going? Do they face common challenges? Could you help?
It will take time, effort and some genuine passion to build trust and establish relationships with these people. Whatever you do, don’t tout for business. In fact, don’t try selling them anything at all. It will only backfire and create a very negative somatic marker against you. Instead, keep your focus on being an active member of the community. Add value wherever possible. Some community members will visit your website when the time is right; others might ask your advice. Eventually, people will come to you because they see your passion and appreciate your expertise.
Over to you
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