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Almost Everything You Thought You Knew about Marketing May be Wrong

Marketing & Sales is in Crises

That’s not news. What is the source of the grim picture in marketing?  Why does the rash of symptoms plaguing their art baffle so many people whose livelihoods depend on marketing and sales?  Why is it that with more information on customers than ever before in history, companies are finding them tougher challenges to sell to?

Almost Everything You Thought You Knew about Marketing & Sales May Be Wrong

Customers now control most markets.  Ultimately, the biggest challenge in marketing today is overcoming the momentum of old ideas made obsolete by the Internet and the aging of society.  Consider the old idea that youth is the ideal human state.  In service of this bad penny, marketing experts repeatedly remind us that aging boomers hate the idea of aging, so base your marketing to them on the values of youth.  However, many studies indicate that people generally adjust well to aging

Youth Dominated Markets of the Past Have Passed Into History

“Know your customer” is the first commandment of customer relationship management.  CRM depends on databases and data mining to help companies “know their customers”.  To “know your customer” includes understanding her in terms of her season of life.  A 45-year-old is not just a 20-year older version of her 25-year-old self.  The 45-year-old is typically less concerned about playing to the external world in her buying behavior.

An Aging Society Laid the Foundation for Personalized Marketing

The rational marketing triad works better among the young because the young want proof.  Ambiguity unsettles the young mind.  The aging mind often reflects aversion to the kind of unbridled explicitness that turns young minds on.  “Shades of gray” perceptions of reality dispose the aging mind to tune out bold, absolutist claims about products and companies.  Aging customers are more relationship minded than younger markets this predisposes aging customers to respond quite favorably to companies that see them as whole people, not merely as prospects for a product or service.  Aging customers want companies they place their loyalties with to feel what they feel.

Changing Your Approach is Not Difficult

Creating customer experiences that give your product a strong competitive edge is neither expensive nor complicated.  Meeting the expectations of aging customers is not very difficult.  The aging customer loathes deception.  Ad agencies are killing the ad business by continuing to ignore the aging customer by pumping out advertising that was more suitable in the pre-1990s marketplace.  The shift from a product centric mindset to a customer centric mindset dramatically changes how both marketing and customers are viewed:

  • ·Customers are no longer targets; they are humans to be served.
  • ·Marketing is no longer a game of persuasion; it is a service.
  • ·Customers are no longer data sets; they are human beings.
  • ·The focus is no longer on products; it is on the customer experience.

Making such changes in marketing and sales think requires the power of executive leadership.  For no change can take place in company mindset to support a customer centric business model without the unequivocal commitment of executive leadership.  Putting it as Bill Clinton’s campaign manager James Carville would put it, “It’s the Customer, stupid!”

Don’t make the mistake of confusing not difficult with easy.  What follows are some general suggestions to improve marketing and sales success rates.  The objective is to provide a road map that leads you to more leads and a higher lead conversion rate.

Your Customer

The chances are a significant number of your customers are 50 years of age or older.  Do you know who they are?  More importantly, do you know how they think?  If you don’t, you need to find out!  Understanding your customer is the first simple secret in lead generation and conversion. Do you know their behavior, their likes and dislikes, and other factors that influence their purchasing decisions?

Your Sales System

Does your business have a systematic approach to making and tracking sales?  The key is to create and maintain a system that can be replicated over and over and over again.  Do you believe that everyone is responsible for sales?  Does everyone know your sales message?  Does everyone know why your business and product is different?  Every time there is a customer contact, that employee is the company to the customer.  Your employees are a reflection of your business and your selling system.  Do they know the customer?  You need to know your benchmarks and your sales cycle in order to do the forecasting that is a critical part of your strategic planning for your business.

Do You Know Why Your Customer Buys?

Simply put, people buy benefits. People also buy experiences. People buy your product or service for what it does for them; they buy the results they believe they will obtain.

Do You Know Why They Don’t Buy?

Do you really know why your prospects don’t turn into customers?  Understanding why someone didn’t buy is every bit as important as understanding why they did.  If you know why prospects drop out of your sales system–and at which point in the cycle–you have your first clue as to what do about it.

Touch their hearts and they will allow you to enter their minds.  Remember that aging customers, on average, have a superior sense of reality.  Don’t succumb to the myths and stereotyping about aging that pervades our society — you may do so at the expense of increasing your product/service sales.

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