Enabling Pull Demand

In today’s business environment, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to gain the attention of potential customers. I read more blogs, articles and white papers about the customer acquisition process and demand generation than just about any other topic. The common theme of these articles is about tactical execution: sending e-mails, building websites, doing blogs, getting SEO right.

I’m not suggesting these tactics aren’t important, but I think that marketing organizations often view their mission as being tactical execution. What is missing is the right fundamental messaging. That is what enabling “pull” demand is all about.

What I observe in many marketing efforts is that messaging takes a back seat to “production”. As a result, a lot of messaging is least common denominator thinking. If you are selling a product, it’s easy to fall in to this trap:

  • We have an awesome product and an awesome company.
  • Our product does this “stuff” that you as a customer will like.
  • Our product has this feature and you will get this (these) benefits.
  • Our product is better than our competitors because it has better “stuff” (quote facts and figures).
  • You should buy our product. Call us. Visit our website, read our blog, “friend” us…

Of course, the semantics are couched in much more sophisticated terms, but at the end of the day, someone in marketing is deciding what the customer likes and wants, what are the benefits and is justifying it with facts and figures. I call this enabling “push” demand.

There are many justifications for why this is done, but to me it’s really about priorities. If you view your job as “production”, producing is more important than getting the actual messaging right. After all, you could probably spend more time on messaging if you weren’t so busy “producing”.

This is also a fundamental reason why sales organizations get into conflict with Marketing. Sales views their role in terms of providing the customer what they want. Sales people will tell you that when they talk to customers and try to use the marketing content they are given, it’s fundamentally not what the customer says they want. Perhaps the worst outcome of this is that sales people lose significant credibility with customers. No wonder a recent Forrester study found that many technology buyers don’t think sales people add much value in sales conversations!

In order for a sales dialogue to add value, it must focus on how the product adds value to the customer. Every customer has business needs, goals, objectives and problems they are trying to address. Every customer has a customer whose needs they are trying to meet.   Messaging that positions the product from the customer’s view point is critical to both customer acquisition and selling – in fact, it must be the same messaging.

This is what you should see:

  • Our product adds value and makes you (the customer) successful.
  • You said you needed this “stuff”, and this is how our product does that.
  • You described in these quantifiable terms what benefit you think you will get from our product.
  • We value you as a customer, and want to develop a relationship with you to serve your needs.
  • Come to our blog, our website and “friend” us to tell us how we can better serve you.

The paradox in all this is that you still have to “produce” the blog, website, social media site, etc. It’s really a question of attitude and a willingness to put the message before the channel.  

To see more details about how to create an aligned messaging strategy, see the article in Resources and Tools about the 99 Questions Methodology.