As marketers, we're often focused on trying to loosen the status quo of our prospects. After all, if they're happy with the way things are, then they don't want to change, which leaves your products on the shelf.
So we valiantly go out and try to convince them that, with our new improved WizBang 5000, their lives will be better. We try to help them envision the success they can have with our product vs. what they're using today. We reach out and give them industry research and statistics that prove it and show them case stories about advances our clients have made, etc.
But, have you considered who's status quo you're dealing with? Is it part of your customer profile or included in the persona you've created for the decision maker?
I was reading a post over at Seth Godin's blog this morning and something he wrote struck me:
"The spreadsheets and the marketing team and the CFO and the lawyers have no trouble at all defending the status quo, because, it's their status quo. They created it and they like it that way."
He was writing about the fact that Verizon passed up the iPhone, but the insight remains valid for those of us in B2B who often deal with larger companies that have a legacy culture that's rolled forward from the old days. The ones who are slow to adapt to change, until they see how everyone else does with it first. The same ones we're trying to help leap frog ahead of their competition. Which usually is about as successful as banging our heads against the wall.
Have you ever thought about types of status quo?
- Industry status quo
- Company status quo
- Competitor status quo
- Cultural status quo
Industry status quo is centered around common practices for the industry and is often in flux as new innovations come to market. This is the one I usually see paid attention.
Company status quo is sometimes not to difficult to change if they don't have firm reasoning behind how they're doing things. If they've just evolved over the course of time and are now struggling with that evolution, they're often receptive. New companies finding their legs and newly acquired companies with investors who want to move...now.
Competitor status quo is compelling for the simple reason that companies don't like to be left behind or left out. So, if the company's competitor status quo shifts, they will be looking to stem the perceived advantage. Especially if the company wants to get closer to the top of the list. Or to stay there.
Cultural status quo is the tough one. If the execs with the final say are mired in the status quo because they created it, you're in for a tough, maybe unsuccessful, bid for acceptance. Ownership is key here. There are a variety of reasons they dig in their heels, not the least of which is power.
The differences in the first three may be subtle, but they should be addressed. That last one is a doozy.
This is why thought leadership and demonstrating your expertise is so valuable. Whatever you're selling can probably be purchased (in some form) elsewhere. But, providing intelligence, strategic thinking and expertise they don't have can be done in a way that can loosen the various types of status quo.
Iterative projects that can be purchased departmentally are also a way to erode a cultural status quo, a bit at a time. But, if you're eye is on developing that first phase into a larger project, keep your focus on proof points and evidence. The results will need to be overwhelmingly in your favor.
What's your experience with varying types of status quo? Do you have additions to the list?