Is Speed Dating a Viable Marketing Strategy During Digital Transformation?

Embarking on a digital transformation can be compared to adopting a speed dating strategy. You might “meet” a whole lot of prospects a whole lot faster, but if your behavior is product-centric instead of customer-centric, you’ll simply succeed in inoculating a lot more people to your charms a lot faster.

Imagine you have a friend who has had no luck at dating. Instead of looking into the reasons why they’ve had bad luck and changing their behavior, they tell you they’re going to start speed dating. Twenty dates a night! Surely they’ll have some luck! But the same behavior, 20 times faster, means 20 times the same results — even in marketing strategy. Embarking on a digital transformation can be compared to adopting a speed dating strategy.

You might “meet” a whole lot of prospects a whole lot faster, but if your behavior is product-centric instead of customer-centric, you’ll simply succeed in inoculating a lot more people to your charms a lot faster.

A marketing digital transformation requires deploying, adopting, and coordinating the technologies and programs to enable you to communicate digital content over digital channels with your customers and prospects. The behavior change that must go hand-in-hand with digital transformation is that of becoming customer-centric in how you engage, and the content with which you engage.

Why Customer Experience Drives Success

Take Uber and Lyft, for example. Cars with drivers still take you from A to B in exchange for money. So it’s the same service as regular taxis, right? Wrong. If all Lyft or Uber did was enable you to digitally order up a cab with your smartphone, it really wouldn’t have changed the customer experience. But Lyft and Uber disrupted the transportation industry by changing the ordering, the visual tracking of the vehicle, the payment, the tipping and the rating of the drivers. They changed the entire customer experience, and ultimately bankrupted the Yellow Cab Company. These weren’t direct outcomes of a digital transformation; they were the outcomes of building a business that put customer experience first. Digital transformation was a means to that end.

The point is that we need to embark on a digital transformation and decide the aspects of it we wish to prioritize, based on the customer experience we want to achieve and the behaviors of our company we therefore need to support. And if you thought deploying digital technology was hard, try changing behaviors!

Pop Quiz: Are You Customer or Product-Centric?

How do you know if your customer-perceived behavior is customer-centric or product-centric? Here’s the pop quiz:

  1. Is your website organized primarily by product/services/solutions?
  2. Does your site include more pictures of products or satisfied customers?
  3. Does your 1-800 number ring through to a phone tree or a human being?
  4. Can the service rep see your entire customer record while on the phone?
  5. Do you have a preference center?
  6. Do you segment your communications based on where people are in their buying journey?
  7. Do you use personas for segmentation?
  8. Do you plan and develop content based on personas and prospect information needs at each stage of the customer buying journey?
  9. Can your sales development reps (SDRs) and sales reps see all of the digital interactions prospects have had with your company?
  10. Does marketing have a defined role in the onboarding of new customers?
  11. Do you identify and treat loyal customers differently?
  12. Do you have reports and dashboards that measure marketing performance after the close, including onboarding, adoption, value delivery, loyalty and advocacy?
  13. Do you have an executive responsible for customer experience?
  14. Do you measure the quality of customer experiences other than by revenue?

This list should make it clear that getting to great customer experiences is much more complicated than fiddling with GUIs. It is a company-wide initiative, where marketing has a leading role. Marketing’s job is to help customers and prospects buy more by delivering great customer experiences in all stages of the buying journey.

WARNING: There will be plenty of resistance to this behavior change.

Embrace Customer Intimacy

Twenty years ago, I spoke with the CIO of one of the largest video store chains in NA. I asked him why they didn’t cut a deal with the USPS to allow customers to return the videos for free via mail, because they had sturdy plastic cases with the store address on them. His response was that a majority of their profit came from “late returns,” so they didn’t want to change it. I shared with him that a profitability model predicated on a bad customer experience would not end well. Today, all 6,000 stores are closed.

So don’t be one of those firms that thinks deploying a marketing automation platform or email platform empowers you to spam 100,000 people with one click. Don’t dream that if you build a product- centric website “they will come.” Don’t inject yourself into social media conversations with self-promoting materials. Don’t believe that marketing technologies are narrowly focused lead generation.

Instead, decide what improvements you can make to the customer experience this year, and plan changes to your behaviors in marketing, sales, support, operations and finance. That will drive the digital transformation requirements and priorities and prove that blindly deploying martech will not lead to better dates.

Read more about operationalizing the customer experience.

It’s Not My Opinion, It’s My Money That Marketers Want

Why do so many marketers choose the path of least resistance, which often means communicating more, rather than better. Even “pushing the envelope” to get what marketers want — perhaps an inappropriate metaphor, in the digital world — and bending credibility almost to the breaking point?

Why do so many marketers choose the path of least resistance, which often means communicating more, rather than better. Even “pushing the envelope” to get what marketers want — perhaps an inappropriate metaphor, in the digital world — and bending credibility almost to the breaking point?

“Enough is enough!” my mother used to howl at me when some annoying thing I was doing had gone too, too far.

We all get there sometimes, and nothing turns our listener off more permanently than being subject to mindless repetition. Why do we frequently ignore this when “creating” (or not really creating) communications, which we may find boring as marketers, but which someone believes are necessary to fuel the customer journey toward us — rather than inciting an exodos to the hills or the spam button.

As a life-long Democrat, it pains me to use the party’s very questionable fundraising tactics as an example. But for the past couple of weeks, I have been assaulted (I can’t think of a more appropriate word) by what must be considered mindless email communications from the National Democratic Training Committee  and Boldpac, seemingly one of its tentacles. It seems as if someone switched on the automatic pilot, went out for coffee and forgot to come back.

There must be a lesson here for all of us on both sides of the aisle.

I received eight emails from them in just two days this week.

Isn’t enough enough? And this too much?

DESTROYING New York, Robert Mueller DOOMED, BIG announcement, Cohen GUILTY, Trump FURIOUS, Mueller THREATENED

(After Mueller was DOOMED in another message minutes before.) You get the idea.

Here are compelling BIG words capitalized as if they were copied and pasted from a Trumpian tweet. Of course they become wallpaper by repetition and lose any sense of the urgency we all want to see in promotion. The law of diminishing returns comes into play, and perhaps they deserve to be included in Melissa’s WWTT?

And dare I say it? These particular official-sounding messages are an inherently dishonest switch-sell.

“We’ve re-launched the poll,” says the message.

Come on, guys! Let’s get real here.

Can we even, for a moment, suspend disbelief long enough to accept that they (who?) “need to know” where I stand as of Dec. 9, or even give a damn whether I approve of Robert Muller or not?

Enormously complimented as I am supposed to be, perhaps I’ve become too cynical. But somehow, I find it difficult to accept that I have been fortunate enough to have been chosen to be part of a “Special Task Force!” to protect Mueller. (If I’m that fortunate, why don’t I ever win the lottery?)  I can’t help feeling that it is not my opinion they want; it’s my money. That’s why they also ask me to contribute, “in the next hour” $3 or $10 or even more or “chip in $10 (or even $3) today?” Doesn’t this have the sound of either desperation or the copywriter plodding mindlessly on and failing to stop and think?

I tried reaching out to the Training Committee, but it didn’t respond. Its members were obviously too busy “training” to bother to provide answers to some simple questions that might inform marketers. Among other things, I wanted to ask the real reason for the surveys, petitions and questionnaires the committee seems obsessed with, and some case histories of how this data was used to affect policy, to change opinion or to do anything? It says: “Every signature makes a difference. Add your name right now.” But don’t we want to know to whom it makes a difference?

Wasn’t the inclusion of a request for donations from “Task Force” members, I wanted to ask, the real reason for the surveys? And weren’t the obviously loaded questions asked only as a path to the switch-sell? Did the target market for these efforts have such a deplorably low intelligence level that it could be so easily conned?

Also, I was curious what the fundraising consultants who were paid $1.3 million in 2018 actually did for their money and who they were? (Blackops? Perhaps.) What percentage of the unspecified money raised did their cut represent? It certainly seems that the consultants were onto a good thing. Was it they who encouraged this aggressive headline; “Peter will vote for Trump in 2020?” knowing that the statement would be sufficiently irritating to catch my attention, even with a question mark hidden at the end?

As marketing professionals, we are often challenged with honestly answering the question: How far can I go in building my promotional messages and actions to generate the highest response at the lowest cost vs. where is the red line not to be crossed over using the powerful tools in our armory?

Sadly, as we see all too frequently in today’s world, mendacity trumps truth.

Hopefully, it won’t be too long before the pendulum swings back and our customers and prospects, even our potential voters, tell us that enough is definitely enough.

Psychology of Choice for B2B Marketing

Addressing personal values matters in B2B marketing — more than most might think. In fact, research from Motista and ThinkGoogle shows that B2B brands have more emotional bonds with their customers than B2C brands. Their findings showed that B2B brands had emotional connections with around 50% of their customers.

Addressing personal values matters in B2B marketing — more than most might think. In fact, research from Motista and ThinkGoogle shows that B2B brands have more emotional bonds with their customers than B2C brands. Their findings, which involved researching more than 3,000 brands, showed that B2B brands had emotional connections with around 50% of their customers and B2C brands had that coveted connection with only 10% – 40%.

So how do you get someone emotional about buying accounting software? Ordering a machine repair? Paper supplies and other products and services that are not known for creating warm fuzzies?

Its actually really simple: You don’t.

You get them excited about what really matters? Self actualization.

Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? And that little tiny part at the apex of the pyramid he labeled “actualization”? Well, whether we get there or not, we aspire to be there. One way or another. Down deep, we aspire to do something greater than our parents did. Greater than most think we can do. Greater than our current routine?

We want to be that next great writer. Artist. Rapper. Comic. Or top-achieving business executive.

We think about these things, and then we go right back to the moment at-hand. Being the best we can be at what we are doing day-to-day. This is what we marketers need to focus on. First.

If we can provide customers and prospects with the hope that we can help them succeed at their jobs, get a promotion, maintain stability to provide for their families, achieve their short- and long-term goals, we will capture their attention.

And if we can provide more than hope, such as actionable advice that helps them refine their skills, do something better than before, we will trigger that very important response — dopamine rushes — that creates emotional bonds and passion that will be hard for anyone to break.

How do you go about doing the above? Ask your customers. Instead of asking about ways you can better serve them, keep their business, and so on, ask what they need help with beyond your products.

Start with:

  1. What are your greatest challenges each day?
  2. How are you being evaluated for your job performance?
  3. What skill gaps do you feel are holding you back?

Then create materials and activities that help them overcome these challenges. If you can do this, you will create emotional bonds that are much stronger than price, and even convenience to some degree.

It’s true that whomever provides the guidance, insights and confidence that make a difference in our world becomes a partner, not a supplier. And that distinction is what creates those bonds that secure loyalty, sales and marketing ROI.