Friday, December 22, 2006

Know Thy Audience

I have to say that most days, Marketing Profs is like a candy box: you open the lid and there are a lot of good posts to pick from. (Fortunately, unlike with the candy box, you don't need to sample just one or two.)

Yesterday, my favorite - the chocolate covered cherry, as it were - was Nedra Weinreich's post on marketing to introverts. No, I didn't just like it because I'm an introvert and it was ABOUT ME (although that did play a part).  From Nedra:

I have found that introverts and extroverts have a Mars-Venus thing going on. It's hard for an extrovert to get inside the mind of an introvert and understand where they are coming from...This got me to thinking about whether marketers might need to take a different approach to be more effective in reaching introverts, who make up 25-40% of the general population (but 60% of the gifted population!). That percentage is large enough to think about taking the needs of introverts into account in your marketing, even if you are not trying to specifically reach engineers, writers, researchers, lawyers, programmers, college faculty or Star Trek fans, all of whom are more likely to be introverts.

The point is that you need to be aware of your audience, and provide them what they want and need accordingly.  As a marketer with a background in product management and product marketing (all in the tech world), I've had a number of running battles with marketing people who don't like any approach to providing information that actually provides information.

I've been told over and over again that "people buy benefits, not features." Thus we see all these claims that "our software solution with increase ROI and employee productivity" without actually ever revealing what exactly the software solution does and what it's used for.  In my experience, techies have already decided on the benefits, and they want "it". So you need to tell them what "it" does, and "how it works." The techies may need to know the benefits (and have you help connect the dots to how the benefits are derived) in order to sell internally. I've rarely met a techie who didn't want to understand the innards, and who also didn't think that the benefits statements were marketing fluff and BS.

This has led me to define my own marketing mantra: Someone, somewhere in the customer organization is going to want to know what your product does.

I posted a comment on Nedra's post that cited an experience I had.  Years ago, I was invited by the marcomm people at my company to sit in on a meeting with our advertising agency. (I ran product marketing, and my group and I were often brought in by marcomm to review ads, direct mail pieces, web content, and collateral to make sure that it didn't get what we did wrong.) At this particular session, our ad agency was going through an exercise in which they showed us a whole bunch of ads for various technology products. We were asked for our response on which ads were good and which ones were bad.

Naturally, all the ads that I liked were dense and wordy and provided a lot of information on the products being advertised. The ones that I hated told me nothing: horses running through waves, talking heads with a caption about solutions, etc.  (A lot of them reminded me of the ads that appeared in women's mags when I was a kid.  They showed women in ball gowns, leaning up against pillars, and the caption read "Modess....because."  I'm sure our mothers knew the "because" part, but we just liked the pictures of the pretty ladies, which we cut out and put in scrapbooks. Well, "Tech Solution....because" won't cut it for most techies I know.)

Naturally, I was told that I didn't know anything about advertising. The agency regarded the information-rich ads as terrible. I tried to point out that techies might like them, but was hooted down.

I will admit that I've made my own mistakes here, too, taking my introvert need and desire for more information into too much information for the audience. I'll admit, the business buyer may not care about the "how it works", even when I've tried to force feed it. The business guys do, indeed, want to know "what it does for me."

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