Are We Asking Too Much of the Customer?


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There is a tremendous amount of noise in the marketplace. And it is difficult to find someone who doesn’t feel over-burdened with the stresses of day-to-day living, and earning a living. There is no doubt about it. It is hard – and getting harder – to get, and keep, anyone’s attention.

Every businessperson knows this. Every marketer faces this reality daily.

So what’s a businessperson or marketer to do?

We try to get people’s attention by going where they seem to be, social media and mobile apps being prime examples. But there are millions of Tweets, Facebook comments, Pinterest posts, and an unending stream of new apps. There are thousands of blogs. (The mute button on the remote was invented to soften the never-ending barrage of TV and cable ads.) We try “special offers,” sales, email blasts, cold calling, and just about anything else that offers a glimmer of possible success.

And our messages – our explanations of why prospects should buy from us – are increasingly lost in the mass of messages everyone hears regularly, even hourly.

Meeting the complexity of the marketplace with an ever-increasing complexity of marketing media and mechanisms doesn’t necessarily break through the clutter. But it necessarily adds to it.

I would like to suggest a counter-intuitive approach. We need to simplify.

• Too often, in an attempt to be current on all media, all the time, our key messages get diluted or lost. Social media, “content marketing,” “engagement marketing,” etc. without an overall plan quickly become background noise, not prospect outreach. In many cases, less is more. Have a plan. Push “content” or tweets or posts out the door only when you have something to say. (And repeating the same tired nostrums everyone else is saying is not having something to say. It is noise.)

• Once upon a time, we were told that we needed an “elevator pitch,” the script which would allow you to tell a prospect why he needs your product/service in the time it takes an elevator to move from one floor to the next. This was typically translated as 60 seconds. On-line, 60 seconds is an eternity. If you are relying on the patience of a prospect to wade through everything you think you want to say, everything that is “cool” about what you do, you are going to lose them.

• With all the discussions (and hype) about new mechanisms promising to be marketing’s pot at the end of the rainbow, with all the new software offering to mechanize marketing, we are losing sight of the obvious. Our key selling site, the one place we actually have the time to explain what we do, how we do it, and how it would benefit someone to buy it, is on our Web sites. It has certainly lost cache to talk about Web sites in the last few years. The concept is not new. It is not sexy. But, in fact, it works: It is your selling space – it is the place your blogs, your Tweets, your Facebook or Pinterest postings point to. And it is the easiest place for your customers and prospects to find you.

So what do I mean by “simplify”?

1. Don’t waste your time and resources adding to the noise in the marketplace. It doesn’t do you any good. In fact, believe it or not, it can diminish your visibility. People simply fly past, without looking, at materials they have come to believe aren’t worth their time.

2. It this age of ever-shrinking attention span, it is imperative that your message be crisp, clear, coherent, easy to understand, and interesting from the prospect’s perspective. And do it in 10-15 seconds or less.

3. Don’t forget the “old” in the excitement of the “new.” Web sites work. Pay attention to them.

The bottom-line is simple: The more you ask a prospect to work at grasping what you are trying to tell him, the more time of his you want, the less chance you have of making him a customer.

Emily R. Coleman
Dr. Emily R. Coleman is President of Competitive Advantage Marketing, Inc., a firm that specializes in helping companies expand their reach and revenues through strategy and implementation. Dr. Coleman has more than 30 years of hands-on executive management experience working with companies, from Fortune 500 firms to entrepreneurial enterprises. Dr. Coleman's expertise extends from the integration of corporate-wide marketing operations and communications to the development and implementation of strategy into product development and branding.


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