In my book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, I bestow relevance with the "King" moniker. I did this because the old adage that "Content is King" is meaningless unless relevance is involved. Strangely, this point is often overlooked.
Attracting attention and keeping it across the entirety of the buying cycle are both critical if B2B marketing efforts are truly focused on creating sales opportunities. And, once prospects become customers, we need to retain them over the long term. Which of course means we need to get to know exactly what they want and give it to them.
What's increasingly interesting to me is that marketers presume to know what their customers want without anything beyond gut feel to back them up. According to Forrester Research, 80% of marketers asked say customer preference is a key factor for designing communications programs.
But the findings from the study show that guesswork is still reining supreme. Take a gander at a few statistics that demonstrate the disconnect between perception and reality:
- Only 29% capture what kind of content their customers want to receive.
- Only 12% capture customers' preference for frequency of communications.
- Of those who ask about at least one preference, at least 30% of the marketers who collect the information DON'T USE IT.
This is pitiful. Really. And, here's the kicker; this is in response to questions about CUSTOMER preferences - not prospects.
Customers are people we know. We (supposedly) have relationships with them, for heaven's sake! And yet it appears that many marketers go out everyday and execute marketing programs, certain that they know just exactly what their prospects want.
Who's kidding whom?
I know that the speed of business is moving swiftly. I hear a lot of "just do it now" from marketers under pressure to produce quantifiable results as quickly as possible.
But think about what can become possible if you really know your customers' and prospects' preferences. Delivering what people want, when they want it is a combination of art and science. It's strategic. And strategy takes some elbow grease. There are no short cuts. We need to do the work if our marketing is to become sustainable over time.
Think about the way the marketplace is shifting. Social Networks and hyper connectivity will only create greater visibility for all of us. Marketing is no longer a stop and start series of campaigns. It's an always-on reality. It requires a continuous flow of storyline that we have to keep building and telling, consistently and sustainably.
If we're not relevant, we lose. The only way to be relevant is to give people what they want. And the only way to do that is to get to know them.