It is funny, I walk into a lot of companies and this topic comes up. The conversation typically starts around the need to understand customers’ buying habits, their behaviors, their company segment, and their individual needs. At some stage I am inevitably stopped with “but I need to promote my products/events/launches, and although this is interesting, it is not going to help. Please just tell me who I should send these messages to when I am ready to talk about it.”
I exaggerate. But the fact is, this is not an “OR” statement, it’s an “AND” statement. Of course there are going to be milestones in the year that you will want to promote. And it is very likely these messages will go to the same people who are already in a “journey” (see journey illustration below) and are likely being promoted to by another team within our enterprise. The fact that we periodically send a corporate or product announcement to the entire customer base does not mean we are not cognizant of the stage they are in or what they have shown interested in.
Let’s play out a hypothetical scenario: John Bob is a prospect. He has been looking for one of our solutions and is very new to our market, but is a decision maker who couldn’t care less about the technical aspects (he has people for that). He is very early in his customer journey; he is just learning and would be considered in the Awareness stage. John Bob is looking for thought leadership, market insights, and a view of “who the players are.” We are well positioned — Forrester rated us highly — and so he lands on our site. The web team is advanced, tracking the movement through the site to the relevant whitepapers (which are gated). And so begins his nurture. You now have John Bob in your systems. Technically, you can leverage email to communicate with him.
Concurrently, there is a local event, for which we paid a fair amount to have a speaking engagement, where our top technologist will present the finer points of our solution and why it stands out. This is a detailed discussion that requires a technically savvy audience.
The conflict of goals:
There are at least three sets of goals at play in this scenario
- John Bob wants to be “invisible” at this stage of his journey and is just doing his research to get up to speed and look good in front of his bosses.
- The Demand Generation Team has a new prospect in their nurture and is now leveraging its ninja skills and cutting edge tech to move him through the process “at the right pace.”
- The Event team needs good attendance and John Bob is in the area.
How do we reconcile these goals? How can we ensure the customer is put first and not blasted with conflicting messages?
The Demand Marketing Organization:
Marketing needs to work as one engine. We cannot let our divisional goals get in the way of the primary objective, which is to get John Bob as a customer and retain his business. In the above scenario, there are a few outcomes, the worst of which is that John Bob opts out of future communications. This removes him from all future communications from marketing and diminishes our ability to nurture and grow our contact base.
By aligning the marketing organization around the common goal of generating the right demand and understanding who the customer is, we start to mitigate these issues. Leveraging the tools and data we have available, we can paint a picture and place people in their right stage. These can be programmed into the system, monitored for performance, and enhanced. In the most advanced environments, machine learning can be applied and improvements can be automated over time.
At a minimum you should consider the below as you work through “conflict resolution” and drive the best possible experience for the customer.
- Decision Unit - decision maker or influencer
- Journey Stage – awareness through to retention
- Solutions/Product Content – What I have to offer this person at this stage
By applying the above to your customer/prospect records and also tagging your content (be that email, direct mail, web pages, or even events and webinars), you significantly reduce the risk of delivering the wrong message to the wrong person at the wrong time and increase your chance of retaining them in your database.
So to answer my initial question. The simple answer is “it has to”. We need to set ourselves up to allow for both.
Want to learn more? You can reach me at by email or continue exploring our website.