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Buyer Turn-ons

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Saturday, 29 August 2009

A Gazillion Tweets, but What Makes the Cash Register Ring?




Figure 1 --Passing Fancy – Consumers pass a company’s products/services every day and the CMO’s challenge is to have just the information he/she needs to make “the right” buying decision.  Source – 20th Century Fox



My minimum price for taking a stranded lady to a telephone is 400 dollars.”Jack Colton, Romancing the Stone (20th Century-Fox – 1984) 



Back in the “old days” being a CMO (chief marketing officer) was a great job. 


What was so tough? 


You decide on a brand image and run ads – radio, TV, print, whatever.


Sales went up…you took the credit.


Sales went down it was the salesperson’s fault…the retailer…the consumer …someone.


No wonder John Wanamaker’s, founder of the first American department store, quote is so often repeated…“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.”


The CMO made the consumer buying process work.



Figure 2 --The Push Path – Before the proliferation of information and idea sources came along, push marketing worked most of the time.  Get the consumer’s attention and move him/her through the process to making the purchase.  Source – McKinsey Research


He/she advertised large, life was good.


But in the last 10-15 years, things got ugly for the CMO:

-          the ubiquitous Internet

-          4 billion+ online users

-          Web sites that encourage buyer comments/feedback, price comparison

-          The web bubble burst

-          Bloggers of all levels of literacy/influence

-          Smartphoners

-          People hanging on your Tweets

-          The economic whiplash


Reduced Marketing Costs

With less money to spend, CMOs figured they’d use the new cheap way to reach and influence folks.  New “cheap” tools were used:

-          Tens of thousands of information push sites were developed

-          Web site pay-per-click banners were developed

-          People blogged about their companies, their products

-          “Power users” on Facebook, Flickr, Yelp, Diggs were courted

-          Tweet teams set out to promote to followers

-          They dropped cookies into systems and used services like 33Across, Media6Degrees and track your every move on the iNet (holy crap!)


They were in control, bypassing “the media”, reaching people who were reaching people who were  …





Figure 3 - Everyone’s Friend – When all of the online resources took hold, prospective customers had friends who had friends…people who knew people.  They shared information and experiences that helped or hindered your sales.  Source – McKinsey Research


The CMO had complete control over the image, the ads, the message.


But…for all their control and all the power mentions, the cash register hadn’t rung. 


The CMO looked at the bean counter and thought about what Jack Colton had said, What did you do, wake up this morning and say, ‘Today, I'm going to ruin a man's life’?”


Something is wrong with people. 


“Everyone” follows what Digg’s Adelson says.  They hang on Adrianna’s (Huffington) blogs.  They follow Williams’, Stone’s and Oprah’s Tweets. 


All of the right push tools are in place, humming.  But nothing is happening.


Some CMOs pulled out all the stops.




Figure 4 -- Try Everything – When money got tight and consumers were armed with more information, more resources, more options CMOs had to pull out all the stops to make a sale.  Some efforts were more reliable than others.


What they don’t get is the marketing pendulum has swung from one-way communications – ads, blogs, tweets, web downloads, releases, in-store promos, sales incentives – to two-way communications. 


Give and take to sell the product/service is road kill.


Now, firms have the opportunity (some say obligation) to develop a long-term relationship and nurture a loyal customer who will spread the word. 


You may have only suspected it, but the truth is…firms used to want you to buy and not bother them until…you were ready to buy something new. 


Then, they’d look at you as Zolo did and say “Don't I know you?”


Romancing the Consumer

The treasure marketing is seeking to reach (and influence) the consumer just when he or she has said they are ready to buy.


The problem is:

-          there is a growing abundance of media

-          endless number of product options, world of “experts,”

-          almost universal Internet access


People get their inputs from ads; news coverage; product reviews; social media of very flavor; inputs from friends, family, business associates; in-store experience; after-sale service/support.


We can’t pinpoint the exact decision location for you but…we can give you a map.


Your challenge is to not jump to the conclusion that one or the other communications options is the best solution.


Just remember, one-way push marketing hasn’t been relegated to the history books; but it needs to be heavily influenced by consumer-driven marketing activities.


It’s a lot like Jack Colton discussing Columbian travel with Joan Wilder; “Who told you that? Who told you this bus was going to Cartagena?  That nice man who pulled a gun on you? What else did he tell you?” 


The new online marketing activities and social media are less expensive, so newbie marketing folks love things like SEO (search engine optimization), email campaigns, pay-per-click, behavioral targeting, site/page sponsorship, ad networks, video ads.


Others swear by MySpace, YouTube, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, company blogs, review/rating sites.


One interesting point is that even if you can search the globe online, price isn’t the decision point. 


A recent worldwide MTV study among young adults – 12-24 –regarding desired brand features showed:

-          good quality – 74%

-          trustworthy – 55%

-          works well – 51%

-          good product/service history – 46%

-          it is authentic – 33%


Least important were:

-          friends like it – 25%

-          new/cutting edge – 31%

-          people are talking about it – 33%


Oh sure, the MTV study showed that visibility on TV created that sense of quality.  Overlook the obvious TV plug, focus on the brand features.


The Heavyweight -- WOM

Among all of the buying influences, word of mouth (WOM) continues to carry the most weight in the decision cycle. 




Figure 5 -- Reliable Inputs – With nearly limitless customer contact points available to CMOs, the one consumers turn to is word of mouth inputs from friends, family, associates.  The problem is, they can’t control it, they can’t measure it.  Therefore it…doesn’t work!  Source -- Mintel


To develop and nurture active loyalists, marketing activities have to be overhauled with more than lip service given to customer satisfaction. 


Web sites and blogs are important tools in the new consumer decision process and they need to be given more attention--even when the company can’t control the final marketing message!



Figure 6 – Sound Advice – One of the reliable resources consumers increasingly turn to for a complete inside out, bottom up discussion on a product/service they are considering are vertical and horizontal information web sites and blogs.  Source – Pew Internet & Am Life Project



Important points made by McKinsey Research following a global research project were:

-          single marketing messages had to be replaced with multiple messages tailored to resonate with the consumer at each step of the decision-making process

-          multiple point activities – web site, PR, advertising, packaging, customer service/support, loyalty programs, retail experience – had to become a single, integrated organization-wide voice to the consumer


True, customer service/customer support may not be outstanding but there are bright spots out there.


The key, according to Forrester, is to deliver the right amount of information to passive and active product loyalists so that they are prepared with the information and tools they want/need when asked for product/service recommendations.


Figure 7 -- A Voice of Trust – Consumers use a wide range of resources when they are considering a product/service category purchase.  After the individual has narrowed his/her search, the inputs that carry the most weight are inputs from people who have used the product/service.  Source -- Forrester



Mondo Dismo

The goal is to provide the right information and the right assistance to the consumer when he/she wants/needs it.  The last thing you want Joan Wilder or the prospective customer to say is, “You're a mondo dismo!” 


When that happens…pack your bag and head home.


Marketing is no longer a one-lane road through the mountains to customer suspects,  prospects. 


Brand awareness still matters.


But in the consumer-driven world of today, little things like online reviews, WOM from friends/family, in-store experience, after sale support now play important roles.


When the purchasing decision has been made, marketing has to move to phase two – a great after-sale experience. 


A poor experience produces rotten user review postings…lousy on-line/off-line WOM…zero follow on sales. 


A good experience means the journey can continue.




Figure 8 – Continuing Process – When consumers make a purchase, companies can’t afford to leave the individual behind and move on to the next prospect.  The prospect may turn to that customer for information/assistance.  As a result, the consumer process never ends today.  Source – McKinley Research



If the CMO isn’t equal to the task, the boss usually gives him/her a reference much as Joan Wilder did, “the filthiest, dirtiest, dumbest excuse for a man west of the Missouri River.”

Marketing is a real challenge today. 


Everything has to be realigned to mesh with the consumer’s decision making process. 


Since the customer owns the process, the company has to have the information he/she can draw from to make the right decision at all of the touch points – ads, informational web site, PR, loyalty programs, WOM, store experience.


 Then, you hope to gawd he/she becomes a loyal and active brand user. 


When it happens …sparks fly!!!



Figure 9 -- Something Great – The right customer experience – throughout the buying/using process – and the right contact/interaction by the company produces a great, long-term relationship for the company.  It’s no longer wise to look at the prospect as a one-night stand.  Source – 20th Century Fox



The CMO smiles like Jack Colton and says, “I've never been anybody's best time.”

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