Why Your Marketing Strategy Is Flawed

June 7, 2016
by Christine Viera

Why Your Marketing Strategy Is Flawed…And How to Fix It

Customer experience (CX) is terrible for most these days. If you’re on the hook for addressing this in your marketing strategy, it’s a big mountain to climb. Why?

A good CX requires change. Most find change hard. And being a change agent takes courage and support.

It requires companies to look inward and challenge strongly held beliefs. It’s best done with data. It challenges smart, good people to change. And it takes the courage to face hard business problems. In other words, it makes most cringe.

You might be thinking, hey I’m not a mountain climber – I like yoga! Isn’t there a better way? Why yes – there is a better way. You can listen, learn, and adapt to break this big, messy problem down into pieces you can tackle.

Marketing Strategy one step at a time

Digging into CX Challenges

I’ve faced the CX challenge while growth hacking at more than one good company. In each case, we needed clear answers to why products weren’t selling, and why some customers left while others were loyal. What in the customer experience made the difference?

Shocking news – there were strongly held internal views in each case. That’s a given. Your people know things and you should listen. Frontline employees especially see and know things that can help you. This “tribal knowledge” is extremely valuable. Yet most marketers stop here. Unsure of how to handle confidently delivered opinions from colleagues and executives – most will run off and try to serve the strongest voices.

In one case, an econometric model was created to predict customer behavior. Theories were drawn up. Processes were created. People were mobilized. (Spoiler alert: The model later turned out not to be predictive of customer churn. However the organization had burned time and resources acting at scale, rather than testing the theory first. Oops!)

Listen Like You Mean it!

Still, we surveyed our customers directly. And the findings were illuminating.

Listening as a Marketing Strategy

Customer research revealed new ways to drive value that didn’t emerge through the tribe or predictive models. In one case, our research clearly pinpointed why customers weren’t upgrading to our latest product. That changed our product roadmap and resulted in a double digit uptake our next product release.

In another example, champions loved our product, but the much larger pool of end users weren’t seeing enough value. Getting users to love the product is the key to stickiness. So, better on-boarding was a quick win.

Most importantly, the research in of my examples put a spotlight on a harder challenge. Customers couldn’t easily put their finger on the value of these awesome solutions.

We all know the drill. Without a killer ‘why buy’ answer in an increasingly metrics-driven world, your cool product risks being just another ‘try and fly‘ solution. Try it, and if it’s not revolutionizing your world — fly on to the next solution. Time and money also fly by when you’re trying to work around a big rock in the middle of your path. So, ignore a weak ‘why buy’ story at your own peril.

 

Marketing Strategy Roadblocks

Source: Washington State Department of Transportation via Flickr

What’s the moral of the story? High-impact marketing strategy is built on outside-in and inside-out research into current buyer needs and potential unmet demand. The inside-out view tends to be easier to get. So, add these two ingredients to your marketing strategy if you still struggle with the ‘why buy’ challenge:

 

1. Ask customers questions directly.

Be fearless. Ask for the truth, straight with no chaser. What’s working, what’s not?

Current and potential customers are in the best position to tell you what works or doesn’t. By listening directly, you’ll find quick wins. And the very act of listening and working to improve their experience may win hearts and minds. Just be sure to follow up on something visible to them.

Another good source of outside-in insights are industry watchers and analysts. If you can afford it, get their unfiltered assessment of the industry, you and your competitors. However you do it, strengthen your strategy with an outside-in view.

 

2. Fix the harder issues uncovered by your research.

If prospects and customers don’t get the value of your product, or only a small pool of advocates really love it – figure out why.

In today’s competitive era, we all need to deliver measurable value in addressing hard problems that people will pay good money to solve. Fix your value proposition if it’s weak. That’s what helps great companies grow. Don’t get lost in trying to solve 100 smaller issues instead of moving the big rock – you’ll risk mistaking activity for impact.

 

Listen and learn – you’ll say goodbye to pure guesswork and hello to educated investment decisions.

About

High energy, inspired B2B Marketer. Lessons learned largely in high tech and communications industries where I've worked with very smart folks, on very cool things, in very dynamic environments. I like helping others navigate people, tech, programs, and problems with vision, courage, and impact. All opinions are solely my own.