Consumer Engagement, But Not Yet Marriage

How many times have we been asked (or asked ourselves) to come up with a valuation of a minute of a prospect’s time and attention, AKA consumer engagement? Almost all advertising is bought and sold using some version of the metric (cost per person, mostly expressed as CPM) and yet no one seems to have nailed an equation that can reliably be used as a baseline.

How many times have we been asked (or asked ourselves) to come up with a valuation of a minute of a prospect’s time and attention, AKA consumer engagement? Almost all advertising is bought and sold using some version of the metric (cost per person, mostly expressed as CPM) and yet no one seems to have nailed an equation that can reliably be used as a baseline.

It’s not that marketers haven’t tried. The most recent expression was reported in Media Daily News at the end of July. Advertisers and agency executives were researched to determine what they “considered” (perhaps better described as their “best guesses”) on the per-minute value of engaged consumer attention and they came up with $1.81. They even produced a bar graph to add verisimilitude.

consumer engagement chart
Credit: Peter J. Rosenwald

This didn’t impress one skeptical reader who commented wryly: “With a sample of 300 people AND no hard guidelines as to how anyone in the survey determined ‘value’ other than for a very narrowly-defined universe, this is just cocktail party fodder.”

Even after a couple of martinis, it would be hard to derive much value from this yardstick of consumer attention. As so-called “opt-in” and “rewarded” advertising models — which let the prospect have some free content before “opting-in” through a paywall or some other device to more content — are becoming increasingly fashionable, it is not surprising that marketers are trying to put some metrics in place to value them.

This illuminates the fact that in today’s multimedia marketplace the “value” of a minute or some other measure of someone’s time, and perhaps even more importantly, attention, depends on a basket of variables that will be unique to each prospect or cluster of prospects. If we can discover which ones are critical to the purchasing process and at what point they influence the customer journey, we may have the beginning of metrics which will intelligently inform our marketing actions. The question is how we get there and the answer remains elusive.

First we need to know what we mean by “engaged consumer”? We all have lots of experience with commercial messages (Wendy’s “Where’s the beef,” for example) which can be described as highly “engaging,” because the creative brilliance attracts the attention of viewers. But that attention has no value whatever for say, vegetarians.

How much the marketer would be willing to pay for an engaged customer, someone who has demonstrated interest in the marketed category and hopefully has the resources to purchase, is more to the point? The Lamborghini dealer should be willing to pay quite a bit more for that engaged minute than the corner taco vendor.

In a September column addressing marketing metrics and suggesting that we stop chasing our tails, I tried to put a figure on the real cost of reaching the target audience for an advertiser like Pampers. Using a $25 CPM cost of a TV spot reaching only women and, after eliminating all women who were neither in the last trimester of pregnancy nor had children under two years old, I came up with a ballpark figure of $208 per thousand. In fact, with a normal average viewing frequency of five times, capturing the engagement of each one of those thousand women for 30 seconds should be worth about $1 ((208*5)/1000), twice that for 60 seconds of attention, not far off of that $1.81 guess.

But will the “engagement” lead to a committed relationship, a marriage if you will, of consumer and brand? Certainly, if the prospect can opt-in or be rewarded with truly relevant and valuable content by clicking to visit the advertiser’s website, and the website can elevate interest to purchase, and the product satisfies and stimulates repeat purchase, the investment in getting that initial 60 seconds of attention will have a quantifiable value.

But putting a figure on that value is as likely to be correct as predicting the length and quality of the marriage.

As a friend of mine says, instead of trying to figure it all out in advance, just start dating.

B2B Influencer Marketing to Jump-Start Your Growth

One way to amplify your message is to amplify your audience. Of course, growing your audience in an organic and sustainable way can be a tall order. But you can jump-start that growth process by working with influencers who have their own audiences already. Here’s an introduction to B2B influencer marketing.

One way to amplify your message is to amplify your audience. Of course, growing your audience in an organic and sustainable way can be a tall order. But you can jump-start that growth process by working with influencers who have their own audiences already. Here’s an introduction to B2B influencer marketing.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

In a nutshell, influencer marketing is the practice of working with people who have influence over members of your target audience. The goal is to create content and partnerships that attract these key influencers and give them the opportunity to introduce you to their audience. These opportunities can be paid or free and can take on many forms — guest posts and podcast interviews, product giveaways and reviews, etc. The practice is wide spread in B2C, but B2B influencer marketing if also very effective.

Who Has Influence?

George Clooney. Matthew McConaughey. Most supermodels. That’s why you see them pitching everything from coffee makers to cars. But they probably don’t have influence in your market. Or, more accurately, they don’t have credibility in your market.

Also, their incredibly broad reach means they probably are beyond your budget, and can’t deliver value because most of their audience does not overlap with your audience.

So, for most B2B marketers, household names need not apply. The celebrities whose fees for social media and blog posting are five and six figures aren’t a good fit. (Though there are exceptions. Ashton Kutcher has real cred as a tech investor, so if that’s your world …)

Instead, look at the people who are celebrities in much smaller worlds, and who are trusted by their niche audiences within those worlds. If your target matches or overlaps theirs and your offerings are not competitive with theirs, you may have an opportunity to get your name in front of their audience.

How Do I Get an Influencer’s Attention?

If you approach an influencer with a pitch about wanting to get your name in front of their audience, they’re either not going to be interested, or they’re going to be very interested because they will charge you for the privilege of addressing their audience.

That’s fine, and in the end, no matter how creative your pitch, you may be looking at a pay-to-play situation. An audience is a valuable thing, and most influencers know this.

Whatever your pitch, it’s most important for you to remember that influencers did not get their audience by shilling; they got it by providing value to their audience. You have to do the same if you want to be taken seriously.

Here are a few ways to get on their radar:

Why an “Hour a Day” Doesn’t Work on Social Media

You’re consistent. Diligent. You spend your hour a day on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. And then you get back to something that might actually generate a lead or sale. Like cold-calling. You know, that “dead” strategy that is difficult these days—yet still gets you paid!

You’re consistent. Diligent. You spend your hour a day on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. And then you get back to something that might actually generate a lead or sale. Like cold-calling. You know, that “dead” strategy that is difficult these days—yet still gets you paid!

Being consistent with social media is not working.

For most of us, there are too few leads coming from being diligent. So why, then, do you continue to post updates, share content, re-tweet?

Maybe you still believe in LinkedIn or Twitter and realize success (at anything) requires diligence. That’s true. Good for you. Or maybe because your boss expects you to—and you continue despite the lack of outcomes.

Despite having a reliable process. This process.

Having a Process Always Gets You Paid
Can’t find time for social? Don’t want to invest time because of lack of results? Your process is wrong. Stop focusing on being consistent. Instead, get a few small results, then build on them.

Be diligent. Be consistent. Most of all, be sure you have a chance at getting early results that you can build on.

Let’s be honest. Getting early results is all that matters. This isn’t about doing things to feel accomplished or satisfy management. Time investments on social media should pay you in these terms:

  • more appointments in less time
  • moving through your prospecting list faster
  • leaving fewer voicemails
  • less time asking for demos—more time giving demos to pre-vetted leads

How can you get these kinds of early results? Follow a proven, effective system.

  1. Attract Attention by saying something bold, new.
  2. Spark Curiosity in what you have to say by holding back details.
  3. Provoke Response by using words that trigger immediate reactions.

The Process Must Make Sense to You
Don’t just follow a system blindly. Make sure YOU believe in the system. Most of all, make sure the approach you use has a high probability of paying off—producing want you want in the near-term.

“In general I like the approach you are recommending, Jeff, because it really makes sense and its something I can relate to and believe in,” says IBM Digital Sales’s Johan Hoffert.

In fact, in a matter of a few days Hoffert tested this approach on a non-responsive prospect he was struggling to reach. He turned it into a lead. What changed his luck? Process, not diligence.

Beware: If it feels like a waste of time it is. Trust your instincts.

You’re an Idiot, but I Have a Cure for That
“When was the last time you bought something from someone who said, ‘You’re an idiot, but I have a cure for that?” asks Bruce Johnston, a respected provider of outsourced LinkedIn lead generation services.

Johnston is concerned with many social selling experts and trainers—their approach to helping reps who need guidance in this area.

“Underestimating your customers’ intelligence and using a fear based approach rubs me the wrong way,” says Johnston who blogs at www.practicalsmm.com.

In a recent email exchange, Johnston told me the message he tries to get across respects his customers and tones down the revolutionary hyperbole. Specifically, social selling, when combined with what you are doing now, is a sales accelerant.

“What many of these ‘experts’ are doing is pushing an ‘if you are not doing social you are a Luddite’ point of view,” says Bruce Johnston. It’s time to tune them out!

What Sellers Need to Know—Versus What They Want to Hear
The truth is this “hour a day” idea is a lie. It’s an excuse to be lazy. The act of “sharing valuable content” with customers is not effective. These ideas are what we want to hear—not what we need to know.

It’s natural for us to want shortcuts. But when you’re a front line seller you can’t afford to waste time. And if you manage a team of sellers you had better pay attention!

“The experts” all agree: Diligent use of social media is the key. An hour a day.

But they’re wrong. Dead wrong.

Evolution, not Revolution
Can you generate leads by regurgitating information (“sharing valuable content”) and Liking prospects’ posts in an hour a day? Is this a revolutionary idea? No and no.

Success is rooted in sales fundamentals—not digital time-wasters coming from people who have never actually sold a B2B product or service!

Your/your team’s success depends on evolving to use what we already know works with the new tools. It sounds trite, obvious. But most organizations have yet to put the obvious to work for sellers. Now you have the key … the process. Good luck!

Drive Leads on Facebook by Getting Customers to Gab

What can a regional supplier of HVAC products and services teach you about Facebook? Plenty. I’ve already explained how Steelmaster Buildings gets leads on its Facebook page using a similar strategy. Today I’ll give an update on how Amanda Kinsella, of residential HVAC provider Logan Services, is getting along. She is continuing to generate leads and tracking ROI to the penny on Facebook. Yes, Facebook.

What can a regional supplier of HVAC products and services teach you about Facebook? Plenty.

I’ve already explained how Steelmaster Buildings gets leads on its Facebook page using a similar strategy. Today I’ll give an update on how Amanda Kinsella, of residential HVAC provider Logan Services, is getting along.

She is continuing to generate leads and tracking ROI to the penny on Facebook. Yes, Facebook.

A Simple Approach
Drive prospects to your page and get them talking about themselves. At first it sounds too simple. But that’s the beauty of it. Here’s the short version: grab customers’ attention and “ethically bribe” them to visit your Facebook page.

Sure, use a contest … BUT … make sure you provide an incentive for prospects to talk about themselves.

Bribe Customers to Talk About Themselves
Get a bowl of candy. Then, hand it out. Free. Just like at a trade show booth.

Why do vendors set out a bowl of candy? To encourage you to linger? Yes.

But smart booth attendants know the key to success is not using candy to talk about what they’re selling. Generating leads is 110 percent about getting prospects talking about themselves first.

A Strange Place to Start
Don’t be fooled by the bad advice online about how to generate leads on Facebook. We’re being hoodwinked into believing social media is a no-cost way of generating customers.

Wrong! It is a low-cost strategy. Smart, targeted advertising is often where to start: Buy attention. Pay for advertisements in places your target market can be found.

For example, Amanda is a one-woman marketing team at Logan Services. This small business serves a large chunk of territory in the Dayton, Ohio region.

Amanda keeps it simple—buying ads where her target market hangs out. She invests precious budget-dollars in local newspapers, TV and radio spots. This creates attention she can work with … that she can push towards Logan’s Facebook page.

Her lure? A free heating or air conditioning system for a customer who needs one. She runs a contest on Facebook that gives away a multi-thousand-dollar residential HVAC system!

Sound crazy? Keep reading. She’s been doing this for a few years now—generating positive ROI.

Tactic No. 1: Use an Incentive to Spread the Word
Any fool can run a contest on Facebook. But when giving away thousands of dollars in equipment and a service contract, Amanda has to be SURE her investment will pay off.

She needs guaranteed leads that will generate thousands in profit for Logan.

When potential customers (from the ads) first started landing on the Facebook page, Amanda told them about the catch. Nobody would win a new furnace unless a minimum of 200 prospects entered the contest.

Her prospects needed to:

  • tell Logan why they needed the system (in a few sentences); and
  • spread the word about the contest.

Amanda put her prospects under incentive to help make sure Logan got what it wanted—leads! You can do the same.

Tactic No. 2: Use Your ‘Thank You’ Page
After prospects filled out the contest application, they were presented with an opportunity to get a quote from Logan on the contest “thank you” page. On average, 20 percent of all contestants started requesting quotes.

Prospects were realizing, “Hey we need a furnace sometime soon … and we may not actually win … so why not check out Logan’s prices anyway?”

This is the power of good direct response social marketing design and this is why you should know people like Amanda.

Tactic No. 3: Give Customers an Incentive to Talk
Human beings love to talk. Especially about themselves. Your potential new (and existing) customers are no different.

Once Amanda’s hopeful contestants spread the word (and reached the minimum threshold) they were given a chance to enter the contest. To enter, prospects filled out an application. The contest form captured valuable insights … stories on why the prospect needed a new furnace so badly.

Talking about themselves naturally revealed details about current and future need for Logan’s products and services.

Convincing customers to talk about themselves is how Amanda grew her database of qualified leads well into the hundreds. That was just in the first year.

Exactly How She Did It
Here is a visual example of how Amanda “ethically bribes” customers to talk about themselves … in ways that reveals leads for her sales team to gently follow-up on.

YOU can do the same. See how it works?

Today, Amanda uses the same lead generation model for Facebook. It works, so why change it?

She also exploits her captive audience on Logan’s Facebook page. As you can see above, these are people who have come to expect giveaways. So, Amanda gives away regularly!

In this case, cash. Gift cards.

Amanda’s reward? More leads at even less cost.

Here’s the rub: She’s not spending on ads for these leads because prospects been “trained” to keep in touch with Logan. Lately, they’re hungry for energy saving tips that save them some money. But most of all, prospects and customers are on Logan’s Facebook page accessing the latest contests.

It wasn’t always easy for Amanda. She struggled for a long time. Amanda tried everything to get potential buyers to talk with her on Facebook. But nobody wanted to talk with a HVAC company. Not even about subjects like saving money on taxes and other energy tips she provided.

But today is a different time for Amanda!

7 Feelings That Add Warmth to Copywriting

Sometimes we get too close to the bells and whistles of our products and services. When that happens, it can be helpful to step back and remember what is near and dear to the heart of your prospective customer. Push away bright, shiny features and techno-speak, and ask yourself if any of these seven feelings can open a new pathway for you to be invited inside your prospect’s mind

Sometimes we get too close to the bells and whistles of our products and services. When that happens, it can be helpful to step back and remember what is near and dear to the heart of your prospective customer. Push away bright, shiny features and techno-speak, and ask yourself if any of these seven feelings can open a new pathway for you to be invited inside your prospect’s mind.

As marketers, we know there are many ways to persuade someone to read or listen to your sales message, such as money, success, respect, and influence.

But perhaps you need an emotional hook. With simplicity and emotion in mind, here are seven feelings where you can bring warmth and emotion to your copy and message.

  1. Family: What more important value than the love a person has for family? Family-centered safety and warmth is a winner about every time it’s used. When most people think about what’s most important in their lives, it’s family.
  2. Friends: Including friends into a sales message can free up the mind from the drudgery of day-to-day work. And most people associate friends with entertainment, time together, and sharing of personal relationships.
  3. Fun: With our senses so often bombarded with negative news, a fun or playful spirit in your sales message can lighten the mental load. Most people would rather play than work. Fun invites involvement. Involvement invites response.
  4. Food: This tasty four-letter F-word gets your attention, doesn’t it? Now that you’ve read it, you might be salivating. Just the word “food” can trigger basic human desire to eat (that snack or dessert sure you’re imagining tastes yummy, doesn’t it?).
  5. Fashion: Deep down, we want to look good. And clothes and fashion help create a personal branding statement. Most people want to be attractive, and most people are attracted to others who look good.
  6. Fitness: People have good intentions about being fit and healthy, even if they don’t want to hit the gym and know they could do better. So, get attention by conveying how you can contribute to someone’s improved health.
  7. Fido/Felines: When was the last time you watched a video on social media featuring a cat or dog? You can admit it. We all do. So you can hardly go wrong when you introduce a lovable or quirky pet into your marketing message.

Simple emotions? Yes. But sometimes we all a little nudge to remind us it’s the small things that stir our feelings.

5 Numeric Speed Bumps to Higher Conversion

Ah, the holiday season. Your prospects are moving fast these days in an always-on world, with all the trimmings of distractions and stress. Fast thinking normally trumps slow thinking, yet sometimes you need to slow down thinking long enough to convert your prospect into a paying customer. Your most challenging task during these last days before the holidays may be

Ah, the holiday season. Your prospects are moving fast these days in an always-on world, with all the trimmings of distractions and stress. Fast thinking normally trumps slow thinking, yet sometimes you need to slow down thinking long enough to convert your prospect into a paying customer. Your most challenging task during these last days before the holidays may be slowing down your prospective customers just enough that they don’t skip over your sales message.

Fast thinking is always on. Fast thinking is instinctive and automatic. Whatever pops into the mind of your prospect often happens with no voluntary control. And sometimes fast thinking works in your favor with a quick, impulsive decision to buy.

But, not always.

So, as you set out to grab attention during these frenzied times, remember that when the mind is in fast thinking mode, short, simple sentences, with short words, are more effective. Content that’s breezy in style usually prevails over hard-to-read copy. And this helps to explain why it’s best to write copy that is readable at about a ninth- or tenth-grade level.

But how do you get the fast thinker to slow down when you want them to make a decision?

Here’s where you can create speed bumps in your message, so the mind doesn’t slide down its established memory grooves too quickly and pass you by.

One way to get attention is by introducing numbers. Numbers—especially dollars and cents—are effective speed bumps.

For people to respond to numeric data effectively, they need to be able to do three things:

  1. Comprehend the number.
  2. Interpret it in proper context.
  3. Act on it.

When our daughters were small children, one of the ways that I discovered how to get them out of an emotional tantrum was to ask a question requiring a numerical answer. Questions like “how old are you?” or “how old will you be on your next birthday?” worked like a charm to move our kids from their right brain emotional state to a left brain logical state to slow down their impulsive thinking.

So, when using numbers in marketing copy, you can slow down the readers’ thinking with these five speed bumps:

  1. Ask a question that requires a numeric answer.
  2. Reveal pricing in small chunks, such as a cost per day.
  3. Display discounts in dollars, not percentages. Not everyone quickly grasps that 30 percent off a $100 item equals $30. Better to say “save $30.00.”
  4. Illustrate improvement or satisfaction increases using specific numbers. Better: give numbers visual life in charts or graphs.
  5. Guarantee your product or service for a specific number of days (more time, such as 60 or 90, is stronger than 30 days).

All said, you may be able to get a prospect to make a purchase decision in your favor from snap thinking and decision-making (and if you can close them quickly, then why not?). But most people don’t act that impulsively. And impulsive decisions are a slippery slope to buyer’s remorse. Slow them down, if you can, in these final days before the holidays with a few strategically placed speed bumps.

The Power of Interstitials … Are You Using Them?

Whether your goal is cross-selling or lead generation, interstitials are a great way to get your website visitors’ attention and take action. According to adspeed.com, an interstitial ad is a full-page ad that appears before (on top of) the actual webpage. This illustration is a sample. Your webmaster or Web programmer can easily put this in place via an html script. In a nutshell, it’s an ad in the front/center of the screen (some sites even keep the ad in place if you scroll up or down, which I find annoying).

Whether your goal is cross-selling or lead generation, interstitials are a great way to get your website visitors’ attention and take action.

According to adspeed.com, an interstitial ad is a full-page ad that appears before (on top of) the actual webpage.

This illustration is a sample.

Your webmaster or Web programmer can easily put this in place via an html script. In a nutshell, it’s an ad in the front/center of the screen (some sites even keep the ad in place if you scroll up or down, which I find annoying).

Typically, interstitials don’t get blocked, like pop-up ads, by many websites or search engines. (For example, Google AdWords won’t approve a PPC campaign if the redirect URL goes to a website that has pop-up ads).

An interstitial can feature various offers for lead generation (email collection) or sales (selling a product). It could be alerting the audience of a special offer, new product, poll or more.

Most interstitials are visually attractive, with strong promotional copy, calls to action and eye-catching graphics. Then the background of the ad is greyed-out, where you can still see the website behind the ad, but it’s faded—so your focus is on the main offer. There’s also a clear and obvious way to close the interstitial. No tricks or hard-to-find “close x” buttons.

Interstitials are ideal if you don’t have room for banner or text ads on your website or you don’t want to affect the current layout of you home page or website theme.

Not all interstitials, however, are created equal. I’ve seen some implemented that are not only unattractive, but are also ineffective in copy and execution. So think about the traffic and audience that may be coming to your website and the offer that may be most attractive to them.

If you drive a lot of traffic to your site but haven’t been able to monetize the traffic or harness the emails, an interstitial is an effective way to capture email addresses and put those names into your sales funnel for future auto-responder series and upsell efforts.

The beauty of an interstitial is that you can make your actual ad space as big or small as you need.

Whatever your offer or need … an interstitial can deliver. And best of all, you don’t have to wonder if your website visitors saw the ad or not. It’s no doubt they did. You are just giving them the option to act on it OR not.

Amaze and Respect: Essential Verbs to Enhance Your Brand Strategy in 2015, Part 1

No doubt your strategic plan has powerful verbs in it already: verbs like activate (previous customers), entice (new customers), cross-promote (merchandise across channels), engage (customers with content) and increase (profitability). I expect those verbs are baked into most plans. But brands that make a difference in the lives of their customers often add a few unexpected verbs into their strategic planning and their actions.

Harvard Business Review recently featured a cover story that promoted three key verbs as critical to marketing success: THINK, FEEL, DO. Does your 2015 brand plan include those verbs?

No doubt your strategic plan has powerful verbs in it already: verbs like activate (previous customers), entice (new customers), cross-promote (merchandise across channels), engage (customers with content) and increase (profitability). I expect those verbs are baked into most plans. But brands that make a difference in the lives of their customers often add a few unexpected verbs into their strategic planning and their actions. As the new year quickly approaches, I invite you and your team to consider a few of these:

Amaze
The brand builders at Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest online retail mortgage lender and the second largest retail home lender in the United States, have mindfully incorporated a powerful verb in its tagline: Engineered to Amaze.

The verb amaze is a driver in all of the company’s brand touchpoints—from the short video clip of Quicken Loans’ amazingly simple mortgage process on the home page to the text query (“AMAZE” to 26293) to the Zing! Blog where “Amazing Insights on Home, Money and Life” are offered to customers.

Breaking out of the maze of bureaucracy and painstaking processes that the mortgage industry is known for is what drives the leaders of Quicken Loans to create products and services that are amazingly useful to customers. Delighting its customers with a fast, efficient, friendly loan process distinguishes this brand and is part of the reason J.D. Power ranks Quicken Loans the “highest satisfaction in primary mortgage origination” for the last four years.

What do your customers find amazing about your brand? What new strategies might you adopt in the upcoming year to be even more amazingly useful to your customers?

Respect
Where does the verb respect fit in your brand’s DNA? For Jeffrey Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield, the two co-founders of Harry’s, an online men’s shaving boutique, this verb dominates their strategy. Here’s how the two describe their service:

Like most of you, we’ve long had to choose between over-priced, over-marketed razors that disrespect your intelligence, and low quality, cheap razors that disrespect your face. We knew there had to be a better way, so we created Harry’s as a return to the essential: a great shave at a fair price.

Respecting customer intelligence, respecting the customer’s face, lathering in an edited and simplified shopping experience (like one of these men did in his first business—Warby Parker) and creating a meaningful charitable connection all adds up to a new venture that elevates a daily chore. Harry’s believes “a great shave is powerful, preparing you to conquer the world in your own way, every day.”

It’s apparent that this respect for their customer’s time, attention and wallet coupled with respect for the activity of shaving informed all Raider’s and Katz-Mayfield’s brand launch decisions. The co-founders conducted their own shave tests and found all existing products on the market lacking. In addition to finding a European manufacturer to make a different type of blade, it led them to reconfigure the razor handles and craft two unique and exclusive Harry offerings: The Winston and The Truman, inspired by old pens and knives.

“With Harry’s,” Raider says in a Fast Company interview, “I think we care about customers a lot, but it’s more about respecting them and giving them a product they really like, but not overwhelming them with choice-just sort of giving them a shaving tool we think will work really well.”

Plain and simple, how well does your brand respect your customers’ attention, time and wallet? In 2015, how can you be ever more respectful?

Tune in in early December for the final three verbs you should use to enhance your brand strategy in 2015!

5 Tips to Sell Media Multitaskers

How many gadgets do you juggle simultaneously? Assuming you’re like most people, you’re on your laptop/tablet, smartphone and other media devices checking email, texts and social media at the same time. And so are your prospects. Their mind (and your mind) is multitasking a lot. But here’s scary news: You could be shrinking important structures in your brain. So are your prospective customers. And this is going to impact…

How many gadgets do you juggle simultaneously? Assuming you’re like most people, you’re on your laptop/tablet, smartphone and other media devices checking email, texts and social media at the same time. And so are your prospects. Their mind (and your mind) is multitasking a lot. But here’s scary news: You could be shrinking important structures in your brain. So are your prospective customers. And this is going to impact your selling success whether you like it or not.

Intuition tells us that it’s tough to media multitask, that is, attempt to watch TV and be on your computer and/or your smartphone checking email, texts and social media all at the same time. If you’ve done it, you know you’re not completely present with any one of these. Rather, your focus diverts from one media to the other with the end result of losing out on the whole story of any one thing.

New research by two neuroscientists has found that people who use multiple devices simultaneously have lower gray matter density in an area of the brain associated with cognitive and emotional control. With these new findings, there is increasing concern about how simultaneous multiple media consumption is altering our cognition, social-emotional well-being, and brain structure.

Media multitasking is also associated with emotional problems, like anxiety and depression, as well as cognitive problems, like poor attention. Gray matter is also central to muscle control, sensory input, decision making and self-control.

And there’s more: we’re losing gray matter which affects “executive function” in the brain. “Executive functions” include judgment, analysis, organizing, problem solving, planning and creativity. With those “executive functions,” the mind can more deeply groove new memories into long-term knowledge.

So while there is reason for you, on an individual level, to be concerned about this development, as a direct marketer, you have additional challenges selling your prospective customers.

Since there is little you can do to change the course of how your prospects will media multitask, you have to take steps to adjust your marketing approach. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Command Undivided Attention.
    If you want your prospective customer’s undivided attention, one way to get it is through activating fear in the brain’s amygdala—the emotional hot button-that reacts in flight or fight mode.
  2. Encourage Thinking.
    Once you have undivided attention, take quick advantage of it by encouraging your prospect to pause and think.
  3. Be the Problem Solver.
    Your prospect wants easy and quick solutions, especially in this media multitasking world. Become their virtual problem solver.
  4. Organize Yourself First So You Can Organize Them.
    When attention is split apart, you must do the heavy lifting of organizing your message and quickly delivering it with clarity. Confusion kills interest.
  5. Relieve Anxiety.
    Since loss of gray matter creates anxiety, be the salvation in your prospect’s life to relieve it. Be credible. Solve problems. Be your prospect’s hero.

Let’s face it: there is nothing you can do to prevent your prospective customers from media multitasking. And you can’t save them from the risk of losing all-important brain gray matter. But you can be smarter and better positioned to sell with an awareness of how to present your messaging in a complex multimedia and multitasking world.

Fresh Insights in Selling to SMBs

Despite the attention given to large enterprise marketing, it’s small and medium businesses (SMB) where the bulk of marketing investments go. SMB is where there’s enough volume to do plenty of testing. Plus, you’ve got a tighter decision-making unit and shorter sales cycles. And you’ve got a lot of company

Despite the attention given to large enterprise marketing, it’s small and medium businesses (SMB) where the bulk of marketing investments go. SMB is where there’s enough volume to do plenty of testing. Plus, you’ve got a tighter decision-making unit and shorter sales cycles. And you’ve got a lot of company. Plenty of agencies, research firms, and other marketers are focused on SMB, and willing to share their insights. One new set comes from Bredin, Inc., a Boston-based agency that just published a new study on how SMBs buy today.

Kudos to Bredin for figuring out how to persuade 532 busy business owners to take a 15-minute survey online, in May 2014. Respondents were asked all kinds of questions about their buying, influences, media preferences, resources, the works. Here are the nuggets that were most revealing to me.

  • These buyers trust their peers more than any other information source, across the spectrum from awareness to researching product details to the buying decision.
  • They still rely on trade shows and events for product information. Second only to peers and colleagues.
  • They like print materials, for brochures, checklists, handbooks, case studies. When it comes to tablets, they expect to see quotes, order confirmations, videos, interactive tools, and presentations.
  • They want to hear from their vendors, regularly. Not just when they are ready to make a purchase. Encouraging, isn’t it?
  • They welcome email, phone and face-to-face contact from vendors in the period when they are researching, but not ready to buy-what we marketers call “nurturing.” But the number of nurturing contacts they want varies widely, from weekly, to monthly, to every six months.
  • Most of the time (74 percent), the business owner himself or herself is the person investigating the new products and solutions. And this is among businesses with up to 500 employees.
  • The vendor website is a top resource when conducting product research and honing in on a purchase decision.

What should marketers take away from these observations?

Thought Leadership: Establishing your executives and your company as trusted advisers in your field is hugely important in this market. This means networking, content marketing, PR outreach, speaking engagements, and trade/industry professional activities.

Block and Tackle: There are always shiny objects out there, but make sure you have the basics covered. A well-trained sales force, enabled with informative materials, both digital and print, email, phone and trade show support.

Content-rich Website: Intuitive navigation, clarity of design, benefit-oriented copy, loaded with explanatory tools, like case studies, product comparisons, testimonials, how-to guides, video demonstrations-this is how to attract and serve the SMB buyer.

This fresh data confirms my long-held view that business owners value the help they get from their vendors. Ours is a relationship of mutual benefit, as long as we do our part to help them solve their business problems.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.