Why Your Marketing Falls on Deaf Ears and Blind Eyes

Creating the right framework so what your customers see is what you want them to see is not an expensive or long-term endeavor. It’s simply a matter of doing your research to see what they see now, determine what you need to do at all touchpoints to create the vision you want them have, and create a culture within which positive experiences are framed at every touchpoint, every day.

DNC telemarketing robocalls“Now you see me, now you don’t” isn’t just a great line from one of my favorite movies, (“Now You See Me”), it’s a critical peek into the mind of consumers and what drives them toward your brand, or fast away from it.

We humans are editors at large, everywhere we go and with every purchase we make. We edit events, experiences, and observations to fit our perspective and view of the world. If we don’t want to accept something, we simply don’t. Just take a look at your Facebook or Twitter feed. If you are a supporter of either Trump or Clinton, you simply don’t see or accept any of the accusations about their character, tax payments, email servers or conflicts of interest. You clearly see all of these issues and more about the one you don’t support. Why is this so?

Psychologists sum it up as WYSIATI — “What You See Is All There Is.” If something, even as powerful as scientific evidence, doesn’t fit our view of the world, adhere to our value set, or wish list for the life we live or values we support, then it simply doesn’t exist. We can erase all of the data or clear evidence that doesn’t validate what we “see” or want to see. For example, most Americans state they believe in science and that scientific procedures produce positive and real results. Yet they only believe the results they want to believe. Pew Research shows just how strongly WYSIATI applies to social and environmental issues in our world today. Recent surveys show the big gaps between what science shows through validated processes and what we the people believe:

  • GMOs Are Safe: 88 percent science, 37 percent public
  • Vaccines Are Needed: 86 percent science, 68 percent public
  • Climate Change Is a Real Threat: 94 percent scientists; 65 percent public
  • Humans Are the Primary Cause for Climate Change: 87 percent scientists; 50 percent public

The same applies to brands. We see it all of the time. We read a bad review, have one bad experience, hear a story about a product failure or recall, and it’s all we see then and in the future for years to come. Our smartphones are a great example. Forbes evaluated the iPhone 6 against the Samsung S7 and for eight out of 10 features, such as the camera, screen readability, battery and more, the Samsung outperformed the iPhone, yet 88 percent of iPhone users won’t switch. Our loyalty to a brand that has made us feel current, innovative, connected and even cool, makes us blind to the superior functionality another brand might offer for the same features and tools.

Our ability to see only what we want to see spills over into all aspects of our life. When in high-focus mode, we don’t see distractions around us, and when in high-loyalty mode, we don’t see competitive reasons why we should switch brands for the products we use daily.

Scientifically, this is called perceptual narrowing. Our brains are like big galleries of picture frames. We have a frame, or compartment, for our various beliefs and vague systems and we only believe what is in that frame which is created by our culture, upbringing, religious and social values, and experiences in life. When we hear something about a politician, our religion or a brand we love, whether we believe it, accept it and act on it is largely determined by what is the “frame” associated with that given issue.

For marketers, this is the key to why building experiences that create positive attitudes, oxytocin or “love” rushes, and dopamine highs that result in anticipation of rewards and personal achievements can make or break your sales. Customers keep coming back to brands that get bad reviews from consumers, and to brands that get good ones, if their frame contains a positive view of themselves in your world.

Experiences that put customers in stories that fulfill their aspirations, solve their problems, simplify their lives, increase happiness or trigger feelings of self-worth, are experiences that create frames full of brand joy, loyalty and evangelism. To create these frameworks, we marketers must create a holistic approach to the customer experience, including:

  • Products: Do they do what we promise they’ll do in our communications?
  • Service: Do we put customers first and validate their viewpoints, forever and always?
  • Experiences: Do we guide them on productive journeys that get them to the destination quickly, simply, affordably and with a smile on their faces?
  • How Do We Use CRM and CX Technology to Communicate in Real-time? Solve issues before they become part of the “frame” toward our brand, and proactively communicate ideas, opportunities that benefit them before us?

Creating the right framework so what your customers see is what you want them to see is not an expensive or long-term endeavor. It’s simply a matter of doing your research to see what they see now, determine what you need to do at all touchpoints to create the vision you want them have, and create a culture within which positive experiences are framed at every touchpoint, every day.

Believe any of this? Read my sources and if you still don’t believe me, you’ve just validated everything I’ve just said.

6 More Thorny Data Problems That Vex B-to-B Marketers, and How to Solve Them

B-to-B data continues to challenge marketers, who need to identify and communicate with customers and prospects, but who run into thorny issues every day. Problems range from duplicates, to key-entry errors, to missing data elements, and beyond. Recently, Bernice Grossman and I worked with a group of savvy B-to-B marketers at a DMA conference to compile a list of difficult data problems. Here are six that will bring tears to your eyes—but don’t worry, we also offer some solutions.

B-to-B data continues to challenge marketers, who need to identify and communicate with customers and prospects, but who run into thorny issues every day. Problems range from duplicates, to key-entry errors, to missing data elements, and beyond. Recently, Bernice Grossman and I worked with a group of savvy B-to-B marketers at a DMA conference to compile a list of difficult data problems. Here are six that will bring tears to your eyes—but don’t worry, we also offer some solutions.

  1. How do I find out the names of individuals who visit my website?
    There are two ways to de-anonymize the website visit. First, add a registration invitation to your site. This could be an email sign-up, or a piece of gated content, like a white paper or research report, in exchange for providing important data elements like name, title, company name, address, phone and email.
    Second, use the IP address to identify the company from which the visitor arrived. This can be done by hand, using Google Analytics, or more easily by using any number of services that enable IP address look-up. Marketing automation systems are increasingly baking this option into their tools.

    But the IP address method will still not get you the name of the visitor. You can infer the visitor’s interests and, possibly, role by looking at the time spent on various pages. And you can drop a cookie and retarget the visitor with text or banner ads later.

  2. Job titles are increasingly inconsistent-and proliferating. Categories like marketing manager and financial analyst don’t seem to work anymore.
    Several companies offer job title standardization services, called something like title mapping, title translation or title beautification. A resource like that is a good first step.

    Then, consider sending an outbound email, perhaps with a follow-up phone call, positioned as a “contact verification” message. Invite the target to indicate his or her functional job title, from a list.

    After that, you will be left with a relatively smaller list of remaining titles. At that point, you need to decide on a default for the rest of them. For example, anything that sounds like IT will go in an IT functional bucket. And, depending on how often you query your customers, you can always gather answers to this question over time.

    Then, you are faced with the remaining issue, which is far more difficult, namely the crazy new titles that some people are using these days. We’ve seen bizarre titles like Chief Instigating Officer and Marketing Diva. With these, you have two options.

    • Force aberrant titles into your standards, by hand, using your best guess. Use a default code for anything you can’t really figure out.
    • Leave them as they are, and link them to a table of standardized job functions. But maintain the self-reported wacky title, too, so you can still address the person the way he or she wants to be addressed.

    You might also consider using forced drop-down menus for job function and job title, at the point of key entry.

  3. How should I handle job changes? When an employee leaves and goes to another company, does his or her history with my company go along?
    We are going to assume—a big assumption—that you actually know the person has gone to a new company. It’s more likely that you will not know. This is why it’s a good idea to do periodic de-duplications by functional title to get a sense of new names that have popped up at the companies in your database.

    When you know that there is a job change and you have the new information, you must move the contact to the new company in your database. It’s a good idea to send along behavioral data like communications preferences. You might also add a LinkedIn profile URL to the record. If you believe the prior behavioral data is important, then take it as a duplicate, and put it in a separate field, not attributing it to the new company record.

    The purchase history belongs with the original company, and should stay there. Indicate in the company record that the individual has left.
    As a general rule, in marketing databases, never overwrite. Keep everything data stamped.

  4. We want our sales people to be selling, and keep administrative tasks to a minimum. But these people are also the closest resources to our customers. How can we motivate them to capture important data about the customers and prospects they are interacting with?
    Boil down the mission to just one or two key data points that reps are asked to collect and report. Job title, buying role and email address are among the most likely to change, and perhaps the most important to keep current. Train and reward the reps on consistent reporting on the selected elements.
  5. In an effort to improve web-form response rates, we are asking for only name and email address. What’s the best way to create a company record in this situation?
    We recommend that you consider hiring a service that will fill in the company record on the spot, as a start. Or send the file out to a third party compiler to append the records you need.

    Another way is to parse the email address. Take the letters after the @ and before the .com. For example, if the email is formatted as firstname.lastname@hp.com, the meaningful letters are hp. Search for other emails with these letters in this position in your file, and build a business rule that every email with these letters shall be assigned that company name. If you have a standard record on your file, import it.

    If the email address is a generic one, like gmail.com or yahoo.com, it’s more difficult. Email the prospect and ask for more data. You could also consider preventing email addresses other than those from company domains from being accepted on the web form. But keep in mind that there is some evidence that individuals filling out web forms with personal email addresses tend to be more responsive over time.

  6. We need to get our international customer data under control. Where should we start?
    First, add country name as a required field in your web forms and other response vehicles, so that future data collection will be set. Use a dropdown menu to improve capture of a standardized country name. Prevent the record from moving forward until the country is specified.

    Then, look at what parts of the world you do business in. Estimate how many countries, and how many customer records in each country, so you can see how big an issue this is.

    Then, figure out which records in the database are non-U.S. This will take some effort. Many databases don’t have a non-domestic indicator. There is no easy way around it.

    Country names are increasingly important as laws change. Consider Canada’s onerous new email law, which requires proven opt in before emailing. You can’t assume that those email addresses ending with .ca are the only Canadian emails on your file. One suggestion is to update your web forms with a message like “If you are in Canada, opt in here.”

You can find more thorny data issues and solutions in our new white paper, available for free download. Please submit any other issues you may be facing, using the comments section here, and we’ll be happy to suggest some solutions.

How to Convert LinkedIn Contacts into Qualified Leads

Answering your customers’ most commonly asked questions opens the door for discovery … and for brands to make relevant suggestions. You can offer prospects a friendly tip or useful trick or, if appropriate, outline benefits of taking a trial, downloading a whitepaper or attending your webinar.

Turning LinkedIn contacts or LinkedIn Group members into leads rarely happens using what I call passive engagement. It takes something more than occupying prospects’ time. You’ve got to convince them to sign up for your webinar or download your whitepaper.

Luckily, converting LinkedIn contacts to leads is easy. Just start by solving your target market’s problems in ways they find irresistible. Then plan engagement—carefully map it out to connect your target customers’ questions to the answers your content marketing devices (webinars, whitepaper) deliver.

The Engagement Myth
If you’re like most B-to-B marketers, you’re struggling to turn LinkedIn contacts and group members into leads. But getting it done is easier than you think. After a year of interviewing B-to-B and business to consumer businesses experiencing remarkable success using social media I found the common success principle: Ditching passive engagement—and giving contacts, friends, followers and such a reason to offer more than a “like” or merely consume content.

Many LinkedIn gurus claim awareness, reach and influence leads to conversion. They say, “regular online participation in LinkedIn Groups and with followers on other social platforms can convert them from followers into leads and on to customers.”

Yes, it can but this belief isn’t much different than the “reach and frequency” promise of advertising. Namely, if we beat the drum loud enough (reach) and often enough (frequency) it will cause people to perform an action—register, attend, download. As Dr. Phil likes to say, “and how’s that working for ya?” This is what I call passive engagement.

But there is a better way: Designing engagement to produce actions by solving customers’ problems in places where questions often get asked—like LinkedIn Groups.

Solve Customers’ Problems
You’ve probably heard that posting a certain number of times, on certain subjects, on certain days inside LinkedIn Groups where your target market congregates is the key that unlocks success with LinkedIn. Or maybe you’ve heard that frequent posting of blogs you’ve written in LinkedIn Groups will generate leads. These ideas don’t work. The key to success is solving customers’ problems in provocative ways.

For instance, use LinkedIn to generate questions among customers that your webinar or whitepaper gives answers to. Creatively bait customers to communicate or complain about problems (in LinkedIn Groups) that your content marketing device provides solutions for. Next, provoke actions—exploit those complaints by enticing, “ethically bribing” prospects to register for a webinar, download or perform an action that helps you qualify them as leads. It’s a snap.

Scratch Customers’ Itches in LinkedIn Groups
For instance, grocery store Harris-Teeter pays customers to ask its dietician health-related questions on Facebook. Why would a grocer—or you—do that? Because helping customers put out a fire or scratch a bothersome itch is powerful. It can be done on any social platform where your target audience is engaging, like LinkedIn.

Answering your customers’ most commonly asked questions opens the door for discovery … and for brands to make relevant suggestions. You can offer prospects a friendly tip or useful trick or, if appropriate, outline benefits of taking a trial, downloading a whitepaper or attending your webinar.

Always beware: leads don’t “just happen” passively using LinkedIn. You need to solve problems with a plan in mind. That said, using a question-and-answer technique takes much of the work out of the process. It can even be fun. What do you think about giving this a try?