The comedic approach taken by a number of insurance companies is not working, according to USA Today. While I admit that I find the Farmer’s Insurance commercial entertaining, it hasn’t even tempted me to think about buying anything from them.
As I’ve written many times before, being different should never be the focus. Today, it’s not even enough to be different and better; instead, you must be different, better and relevant. The problem with most traditional marketing approaches is they do nothing to make companies, products or services relevant.
The article highlights the changes Nationwide Insurance, among others, is making to their advertising campaigns.
“While the World’s Greatest Spokesperson helped boost brand awareness for the first time in over a decade, the two-year campaign couldn’t stem eroding market share — off 9% since 2009 — even as Nationwide was pouring more and more money into advertising. Last year alone, Nationwide hiked annual ad spending more than 35% to more than $200 million.”
How do you like that?! Increase ad spending by more than $70 million dollars and lose 9% of your market share. Where is Sergio Zyman when you need him?
If this isn’t proof that awareness means nothing, I don’t know does.
Growing your business today require more than awareness; it requires engagement. It requires bridging the chasm between your marketing and sales efforts and building a system that focuses on creating meaningful conversation, rather than just making claims.
The failure to radically change this approach will continue to cost businesses – large and small – millions in lost sales, profits and equity value.
As I was watching the US women win their opening game of the 2012 Olympics, I found myself thinking a lot about success and achieving what I like to call .1% performance. In honor of their effort, I put together a set of posts that I’ve written on the topic. You can download it here … I hope you enjoy it.
One of the toughest lessons and most valuable lessons I learned early in my sales career was that my job was not to have the answers. I didn’t need to be able to solve the problems my prospects or customers had. My job was to get the prospect to connect to the problem, and to demonstrate that I understood what my prospect wanted to achieve.
I had a whole team of people that whose job is was to solve the problem. My primary objective was to a) get the customer to understand they had an important problem, then b) to connect the prospect with the solutions experts in my company, and c) to manage the process.
Last week I was presenting to a group of CEOs in Syracuse, NY. One of the CEOs was commented on the challenge of adopting The Five Unbreakable Rules for Creating Demand. He commented, “It’s tough understanding your customer like your describing. We’ve spent our entire careers becoming experts in what we do.”
My response to the CEO was that solutions expertise isn’t unique; to your customers and prospects it’s a commodity. While I’m not saying that a company should not have solutions experts, this type of expertise does little to create value in the sales process or separate you from competition.
Really, it’s the fundamental reason that companies create sales team. To have people whose job it is to become customer experts and to provoke awareness of problems. Put the focus there, instead of having the answers, and you’ll see your sales and profits soar.
For 18 months now, I’ve been ripping Blackberry on this blog. Just yesterday and I mocking their announcement that we’re going to be blown away by the new phones they will be releasing. As I told my friend that I’ve heard that before, he asked me an excellent question.
He asked, “Doug, what would Blackberry need to do or say for you to compliment them on their actions?”
My first thought was probably nothing. I realized that wasn’t fair, or true. Blackberry still endears very positive feelings from many. In many ways they remind me of Apple when Steve Jobs returned. While I highly doubt Blackberry will turn it around, I took my friend challenge and wrote the letter that I’d like to see Blackberry’s CEO, Thorsten Heins, share (Thorsten, feel free to use):
We screwed up, and on behalf of the board and executive management team I apologize.
You see, we forgot who we were. No, strike that. The truth is we never really knew who we were. We got so successful, so fast, we never had to figure that out.
Do you remember when you saw your first Blackberry? You probably laughed, thought was an ugly, cumbersome pager, and wondered who in the world would ever pay a monthly fee to get their email. Heck, many of you probably didn’t even have email accounts when the first Blackberry came out.
But, boy did we delight high volume email users and “intelligence” workers. We freed you from your desks. We made the 15 minutes between meetings productive. We turned libraries into communication centers (if you know what I mean).
We were engineers and innovators and we built a company. Even more, we built a brand. We became rock stars. We could do no wrong. We created a whole new product category – the smartphone. And, we thought we owned the category.
It was a great story. Unfortunately, the feeling that we owned the category turned into feeling that we were entitled to own the category. It’s not really that we lost sight of what was happening in the market, or how our customers were changing; in actuality we never paid attention. We didn’t need to.
It’s easy to blame our problems on the introduction of the iPhone, but that would be lazy. The problem is that we forgot that innovation isn’t a one-time event, and successful innovation isn’t just pumping out new versions or introducing things that don’t matter. We learned that innovation certainly isn’t copying others (sorry, Apple).
Here’s what we’re going to do about it:
- We’re going back to our very first principles that started the movement. We are going to be engineers and innovates, not gurus.
- We’re going to stop touting our products. Our customers and fans will speak for us.
- We’re going to stop competing. This is what caused us to make all the mistakes I’m apologizing for. Instead, we’re going to focus on wowing and amazing our best customers. This means that many of you may be confused or disappointed by what we develop – that’s okay; we learned that trying to be all things to all people is bad for your stock price.
- Last, and most importantly, we’re going to focus on creating value again. We’re going to really focus on our best customers and biggest fans. We’re going to ask – and answer – what problems, challenges or desire do they have that we are uniquely capable of solving. This means that we’re going to have to accept that we’re a smaller company. We’re going to reengage with our startup roots and look to build and create a brand new category. I can’t tell you where that journey will go, or end. I know that many currently with us will not stay, and while unfortunate, it is certainly understood.
I hope you’ll join us.
I love simple graphics that tell big stories. As I was reviewing some of my article archives, I came across this graphic from Marty Neumeier on The Dynamics of Different and Good. It’s about as simple and insightful as you can get.
I often remind small and mid-market business executives that being different should never be the goal, instead, it’s different and better. Yet, as this graphic explains, achieving the goal is the beginning of the journey – it’s not the end! When you achieve “difference” going to market becomes difficult. The market resists because it’s not used to it, and as a result your sales and marketing strategy must educate and influence your market. (For a deeper dive into this subject, watch my 25 minute video on the subject.)
What equally interesting and critical is the failure to achieve this goal results in the appearance of an easier path to the market. The market (and those whose opinions you seek before going to the market) respond more positively to what they’re familiar with. The challenge is that there’s little to no growth on that path, and lots of price pressure.
Market resistance is a part of the game. Don’t avoid it, embrace it.
What Would The Ability to Get Through More of The Right Doors Faster Mean For You?
In today’s noisy, competitive world getting heard by the right people is often the biggest challenge faced by a salesperson or sales organization.
Are you comfortable saying that your current sales message is getting you in the right places, allowing you to influence the right people and leveraging your sales efforts effectively?
If your answer is no, or you’re not sure, then you don’t want to miss our very first Sales Genius Network webinar: Creating a Powerful Sales Message: Getting In the Right Doors Faster.
In this webinar, we will lead you through the process of creating your powerful sales message. You’ll learn:
- Why messages fail
- The keys to creating and customizing powerful messages to get you in to see the important people you want to influence
- How to stand out in even to most competitive environments so that your propsects/customers understand the value you bring
- A draft of your sales message
- A clear action plan to put your message to work
- The steps to be able to replicate this across all your sales actions
All attendees will be able to share the message they create with one of Imagine’s Sales Coaches to provide direct feedback, and help improving the message.
Here are the details:
When: July 12th, 2pm EDT
Where: Online (Register now to get your unique link)
Investment: $50 per location – that’s right you can have as many people view this webinar from your location
All registrants will get access to the recording of this webinar, so don’t worry if something happens and you’re unable to be at your computer.
Register now to ensure that the 2nd half of 2012 is as successful as it can be.