In an earlier post,
I talked about how marketers are amplifying the pitch of marketing claims to
garner attention (see, “Marketing
Mad Libs: The “Next Biggest Tsunami” Headline Generator“). The
result is an online circus of vendors hawking
their wares. Consumers and business buyers alike are jaded, sick and tired of
being hoodwinked into buying stuff that doesn’t deliver as promised.
So, how can marketers
cut through the noise and get their messages across? A few do’s and don’ts for
the digital age.
- Get people to go on record about their customer
experience. Here are some ways to get people to speak up:
1. They may reticent about promoting your product,
so have them promote the reason they bought your product. Some customers
want to promote themselves as knowledgeable, innovate and “ahead of the pack.”
This is free exposure for them.
2. Offer reasonable incentives. Customers are often willing to trade access
to new products and the ability to influence product direction for feedback
that can be used publicly. Discounts can
also be effective, as long as customers are not asked to say things with which
they don’t agree.
- Present case studies–even if you don’t have
empirical usage data, hypothetical case studies provide potential buyers with a
way to evaluate an offering’s value to them.
- Use objective sources to support your marketing
efforts–analyst reports, objective survey data, and books/articles by reputable
authors can help make your case. Be careful here not to misrepresent information
— that can be a huge boomerang.
- Offer free trials so people can try for
themselves–if your product or service can be sampled–let people try for
free, no strings attached. Happy users are your best advocates–often, you won’t
even know who these folks are. Influential bloggers in your offering’s market space
are especially important people to target for this, since their feedback is
- Seek out influencers in your space to talk
about the need or desire your offering addresses. Bloggers, conference
speakers, analysts, and consultants are good people to contact and they are
often looking for good content. Make it easy for them to relate to your message
but distilling it down into simple, bite-size chunks.
- Don’t misrepresent
your customer’s experience with your product or service–this will have a double-whammy.
They will resent this and you will turn an advocate into an adversary. Besides,
somebody will likely pick up on this and blog about it, causing you further embarrassment.
- Don’t use a customer’s
name or brand publicly without their permission. Same double-whammy as for the previous
- Don’t misrepresent
data or quote material out of context. People aren’t stupid. This just gets
them angry–hardly a goal for a successful marketing campaign.
- Don’t disparage
competitors. It’s okay to challenge competitors in a good spirit of commercial
rivalry, but be careful not to project a mean-spirited or vindictive stance. This
will also boomerang … and it is just not good business.
- Don’t make false or misleading
claims about your product or service. This just serves to add more noise and
clutter to the marketplace and actually makes it harder to get your message
across, as potential customers tune out.
Got some other good
ideas? I would be happy to hear about them.