Getting to Know You–The More You Know the Less Hot Air You Blow

When I ask my clients: “who’s your marketplace?,” the answer I hear most often is a variation of “Enterprises between 300 million and 1 billion dollars.”

That’s not a marketplace. That’s a business classification.

A marketplace is made up of people, not categories.

Your marketplace isn’t “the IT department of a Fortune 1000 company.” Your marketplace is “the senior manager in an IT department under 10 people handling workload X and infrastructure Y.” Even that’s not complete of course. You have multiple markets for your product. Your marketplace is also the woman he works for and the people who work for him. All the researchers, influencers, obstructionists and buying authorities who are involved with the purchase of most any B2B tech product.

These people have personalities, buying habits, purchase authority, often an established budget, Oh yes, they have one other thing. Expertise.

So as I read content I ask: “is any of this talking to that person?”

Generally the answer is no. It’s all GMB and benefit blather and the usual indistinguishable stuff. And your expert, buying-cycle participants pay absolutely no attention to any of it. Wasted words that do nothing to differentiate you to an indifferent marketplace

There’s a reason we marketers don’t write more knowledgeably to our marketplace.

We don’t know anything about them.

That’s something I’ve learned from working with some of the most successful companies in their markets. The more marketing knows about the markets—about the people—the better they are at building content those markets respond to.

THE BEST PRACTICE

Learn about your marketplace from your sales force. They’re the people that connect with customers and prospects every day. Want to learn what your marketplace is like? Ask your sales team.

You’ll learn how a real client operation works, you’ll learn what kinds of actual challenges they face, you’ll learn what kinds of goals they really have, you’ll learn what kinds of pressures they endure, you’ll learn about their expertise—even their demographics.

In fact, make it a regular event. A couple of hours in conference a few times a year—especially when rolling out a new product or new selling strategy. Record the meetings so new people can learn too.

Send your people for a ride-along or two with the sales team. Let them meet those customers and prospects themselves—a fly on the wall. (Customers don’t bite.)

Survey your customers. Use the survey to fill in your fluff. For instance, if one of your Generic Talking Points is “free up your staff for more strategic tasks,” a survey will find out what kinds of tasks, how much time they free up . . . or even if it’s relevant to your marketplace at all.

There’s nothing magical about this. The more you know about something, the better your content will be. The more you know about your market, the better response you’ll get to that content.

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