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Ardath Albee

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Article

Present Customer Successes with Context

Marketing content that relies on standalone statistics can harm prospect engagement.

Facts are dry. Facts are without the context of the how, why and what. Facts that fly in the face of what prospects believe or “know” won’t get you any traction in your marketing. Even if they’re brilliant. Unless you use them as evidence behind a compelling story.

For example:

Our customers achieve 200% ROI, on average, within one quarter.

Wow! Who wouldn’t like 200% ROI? In one quarter, no less. But what does that mean to your prospect? Below are some of the possible questions that standalone statistics can produce:

  • What was their ROI in the first place? How much impact did that percentage really make to the business objective?
  • How much was the investment the ROI is calculated against?
  • How did they do it?
  • Is it solely attributable to using your product, or did the whole company improve that much based on a variety of initiatives and process improvements?
  • How hard was it?
  • How long did it take to implement?
  • What changes did the company need to make to get that result?
  • Was this a completely new initiative for them and the results are calculated against zero?
  • Was that a fluke?
  • Can they afford it?

Using facts without the rest of the story means you’re leaving the interpretation open to the prospect, and diminishing the believability. Even if they are true. They will interpret, believe or disbelieve it based on their perspective and emotional reaction to the statistic you presented. By combining facts with story, your marketing communications can establish the context in which your customer success claims will be internalized and projected onto their own problem and opportunity areas.

Changing the status quo is not easy. It’s not a one-time shot. It often takes up to ten communications to get a response. So, bombarding prospects with islands of data leaves a lot of room for interpretation. From the prospect’s perspective it can also be extremely frustrating due to the lack of meaning – and often viewed as yet more marketing hype.

Facts can be useful as validation for the need for change, for the positive outcome provided by your products, or both. But without the supporting evidence, the answers to at least some of the questions above, most people either won’t know what to do with the facts or they will ignore them because they have no context in which to apply and believe them.

They’ll make up their own stories about them. They’ll decide the truthfulness of the fact in their world, despite what you think is a truly significant statistic. If they don’t like it, they may minimize or disbelieve it based on what they know, what they’ve experienced in the past or how they’ve been conditioned through their company’s culture.

Facts can definitely add value as evidence of your company's expertise and your ability to deliver on promises. But they work best when marketing provides a context to support them that is applicable and believable. Otherwise you’re taking a big chance that prospects could interpret the facts much differently than you expected them to. Never forget that no matter how credible you think your company is, the only interpretation that counts is the one your prospect has when they engage with your marketing content.

More Stories By Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing interactive eMarketing strategies driven by compelling content.

Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was published by McGraw-Hill.

Her articles and blog posts have been used for university ezines, published in CRM Today, Selling Power, Rain Today and Enterprise CRM News. Marketing Profs has incorporated her blog posts into a number of their "Get to The Point" newsletters.

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