Are you fascinated to the point of distraction with all the new snazzy technology that allows you to slice, dice, segment, sub segment, micro segment and puree your audience?
Are you willing to bet the farm on your amazing new CRM marketing database?
Are you pinpointing all your communications to the people who sign the contracts at your best prospect companies?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions you may be suffering from terminal Technological Myopia. A disease that’s spreading faster than Louie Anderson’s navel. Causing many business marketers to cast a blind eye to large groups of potential customers.
The end result of this malady is best expressed by Fudds Formula of the Forgotten:
“Friends may come and friends may go, but enemies accumulate.”
The secret to the rapid accumulation of enemies
The fastest way to accumulate enemies is to not communicate with people until they are in a position to make a buying decision. Or sign a contract. Especially in this new world where customers and prospects control information, communications and the purchase process.
Overlook these people and your company’s emotional bank account with the market will be more overdrawn than N.C. Esher’s doodle pad.
Frank Forgotten and Frank Forgotten Jr.
Who, exactly, are they? He’s the young turk who’s just moving up the organization, but who doesn’t make buying decisions yet. He’s the not-so-young turk who makes buying decisions now, but just happens to work for a disqualified account.
They’re “the Forgottens” because you’re probably ignoring them. And you probably shouldn’t. They’re much more important than they may appear.
Because they can move into a buying position at a key customer or prospect faster than Homer Simpson can say, “D’oh!”
A growing procession of accumulated enemies
A recent study shows that 35 percent of buyers and buying influencers are in their current jobs 2 1/2 years or less. So in a five-year period, a whopping 70 percent of your buying audience will turn over.
It’s a passing parade out there. With new prospects continuously Karloffing around in Doc Martens all over the place.
And it’s getting worse. Because the word’s out. Companies are looking to consolidate their suppliers. They want to do business with fewer full service vendors.
Sounds good, doesn’t it. Now it’s going to be easier to get more business from each account.
The fact of the matter is, every time a company moves to fewer full service suppliers the next step is the establishment of some sort of buying committee to ensure that the diverse needs of the organization are met.
Look right through her
Some of these committee members know little about you. Some don’t know what you stand for. Or what you do. Or even who the heck you are.
Face it, these people are more involved in their tans than they are with you.
And to make things worse, your sales people probably don’t have access to many of them. Neither, I’ll bet, does your fine tuned, pinpoint targeted database. Because many of these purchase influencers are hidden inside the organization. Invisible. Like cellophane. Technologically forgotten.
Never even know she’s there
In fact, here’s a typical, terrible tale of near-sighted woe being repeated over and over again in business market after business market around the globe. See if it sounds familiar to you.
A leading b-to-b company, who’s as close as you can get to selling a commodity, has done a wonderful job of differentiating themselves. They’ve added integrated services so they can help their customers improve profitability all the way through the customer’s value chain. They’re right on track with the emerging trend in their industry for buying groups to look at the whole value process. Not just the procurement part.
Problem is, they only have access to purchasing managers.
Oops, myopia strikes
The people who can really appreciate what they’re doing and push the full service purchase their way, like operations and marketing people, know little or nothing about them. Let alone how their integrated process can benefit them.
This is called irony. And if it weren’t for broad-based communications, it would be called stick-a-fork-in-us-’cause-we’re-done.
I can hear you now. “That’s not happening in my industry, with my company. We’re in a highly defined market and all the key players know us.”
That’s what a well-known information management company used to think. They’d depended on a highly professional, commissioned sales force to keep their highly defined but silently evolving audiences up to speed with their new services. In fact, they’d been depending on them for 120 years.
Then they launched an integrated branding program with a strong, broad-based, advertising component to reposition the company. It increased their awareness by 26 percent. That’s 26 percent in those traditional markets they’d been working for 120 years. You know, the ones where everybody knew them.
Even better, the program generated $136 million in new sales from companies in those traditional markets who had never done business with them before.
Target, what target, where, when, who, why?
Unfortunately, we can target people so individually and pinpoint messages so precisely today that many marketers are losing sight of the importance of broad-based communications. And as a result, “the Forgotten” are more forgotten then ever.
And marketers are losing the most effective tools at their disposal to economically develop and build their markets. Tools that can prepare people to be your buyers.
Don’t be blinded by technology’s golden glow
Thanks to technology, you can limit your communications to 10 left-handed, bald, ex-lawyers with degrees in nuclear physics, who work in Newark and buy a bunch of your product. Or you can eliminate general market communications all together.
This kind of thinking is the intellectual equivalent of Cheez-Whiz. (Cheez-Whiz, by the way, is not something you eat. It’s something you consult a urologist for.)
Cheeze-Whiz, Wally, what happened?
Eventually, the Cheez-Whiz dynamic will force you to make a choice. And make no mistake about it; it’s not just a philosophical, strategic communications choice. It’s a bottom-line financial choice.
And it goes something like this:
You can do what more and more companies are doing. Simply ignore “the Forgottens” until they become decision makers. Or until they become part of a buying committee. Then put them on your highly targeted, super segmented, whiz-bang direct marketing database. If you can find them.
In the meantime, you’ll