I’ve just read a Twitter feed from an ex-colleague in the US who has been working on research on the effectiveness of tech marketing and how much of it really gets used by sales people. You might be surprised by his finding that 80 percent of marketing collateral never gets used by sales people!
This is a pretty staggering figure and the obvious conclusion to draw is that there is a disconnect between marketing, sales and the needs of prospective customers.
This got me thinking about the typical technology buying process and how various forms of marketing collateral fit in. The typical buying process:
Identify a need or a problem -> Consider the solutions -> Look at who can supply the preferred solution -> Draw up a shortlist of suppliers -> Select chosen supplier -> Implement.
Different types of marketing collateral should address the needs of the buyer at different stages of this buying cycle. Typical marketing tools, including websites (suitably optimised of course), printed/electronic brochures, case studies and whitepapers. All have their place. But how do you deliver these pieces of advertising and marketing collateral to prospective customers at the right time and how do you ensure that they really do address the needs of potential buyers?
Have you ever taken the time to ask prospects how valuable they find the information you send them, or whether they find the information they need on your website easily? Take case studies as an example. It’s really easy to throw these up on your website or for your sales team to fire them out. And then what? Just assume they’re working? After all they say good things about you and how you helped a client, don’t they?
Case studies are not that hard to write — there are plenty of people around who’ll knock them out for you. But they are hard to write well. To extract the really valuable information, contextualise it and present it in a useful, coherent way takes time and skill. Writing glorious sweeping statements about how great your company is, doesn’t deliver value and insight to a prospective buyer of your goods and services.
So think about the information you’re providing in these pieces of collateral. Does it really address the needs of your prospects and give them the information they are searching for at the right stage of their buying process?
I’ve mentioned in previous columns the need for you to put yourself in the shoes of your customers and take an objective view of things. This is particularly true of your marketing.
So try walking a mile in your prospective customers’ shoes. Put yourself in the situation where you are about to embark on the technology buying process. Walk through the process as a real customer would. Look at what information would be valuable to you and at what stage of the process. Then check what you are providing and whether it’s tailored to those needs.
My guess if you do this, and weigh up your own marketing against that of some of your competitors’, you might get a nasty surprise. And even if you don’t, you’ll have a much clearer picture about what you should be providing.