The old style of marketing is toast.
Quite literally, the entire phase shift that has changed the way the public considers and consumes products and services, can be distilled down to a single, perfectly-browned-on-both-sides slice of artisan bread.
How I achieved toasting perfection – via the procurement of my awesome new $250 Australian-made toaster – is a contemporary marketing love story: Boy needs new toaster. Boy almost buys an updated version of tried-and-true, reliable toaster. Boy reads about amazing new toaster. Boy falls hard and fast. Boy and new toaster live happily ever after.
Indeed, my last-minute selection of a Breville (which was recently heralded as “the best large-sized toaster oven” by Engadget) represents the next phase in the changing dynamics of how consumers buy products and services.
1. Buyers Journey: Most senior business leaders are already aware of the “consideration funnel” – and many of you are even keenly aware of the recent changes which saw the marketing department take on a more expanded role through the middle of the buying journey (see the depiction, below).
Though the trip through the funnel itself has not changed, the way in which we, the consumer, participate in that long, strange sojourn is undergoing a seismic shift. Today, consumers are driving the self-reliance ship like never before – intent on researching, evaluating and choosing options prior to interacting with other humans.
This new, expanded role for marketing in the sales journey – the first axis on the tri-axial graphic I’ve provided – has given rise to two additional dimensions through which consumers and business buyers now travel before plunking down their money on their final choice.
2. Funnel Bulge: Rather shockingly, rather than helping customers narrow down their choices, these new inputs are causing an increase in “considered choices” as we journey down toward purchase – a “funnel bulge” filled with brands that we didn’t even know existed. This has given rise to “late entrants” in the consideration process.
How does this happen? Think about the last time you visited Amazon.com for a seemingly innocuous item, only to be offered a “carousel” filled with items that “other customers bought,” or items that you can compare with yours on price, features, benefits – the whole gamut.
In the case of my steamy, dreamy toaster, I had started down a very traditional road – researching the latest models from Krup, Cuisinart and Kitchen Aid when I encountered the WIRED article that would change my toasting future. After reading the article – and learning that Balmuda was available only in Japan (at the time), I was hooked – I had to have it, and no longer would settle for anything less. (Think how difficult it would be for my neighborhood “Joneses” to catch up with me 😉). As I spent time figuring out ways to get my hands on it, I discovered the Australian Breville, with equally good reviews…and available in the US on Amazon! That was it!
So, what can we learn from this?
Of course, for companies whose products or services were not included in the original starting set of choices, there’s now a second chance of making it into the consideration set. By being ready to command your share of attention at any stage in the funnel, you can still get into the game. Either way, it’s important to be prepared. Speaking of which:
3. Mindset Appropriate Messaging: This third dimension is simply a modification of what was (and what some still think remains) a truism in marketing: “Let’s say the same thing over and over again, and hope that people will believe it.”
Unfortunately, this “truism” is no longer true. Or, shall we say, there’s a better way.
It’s now far better to change WHAT we say, based upon WHERE in the purchase decision the buyer happens to be. This “psychological distance” is a key consideration in determining whether your message will resonate with a potential buyer.
For example, at the start of the buying journey for the prospective buyer of a Tesla electric car, a buyer may start by considering messages about high-level price and about how “cool” he or she might look behind the wheel of the new Model X. As the prospect moves along the journey, more practical aspects come into play – things like tax rebates, price of various options (including future upgradability in the case of Tesla), charging stations on long drives – in other words, mindset-relevant messaging!
The same psychology can be seen at work, for example, with the potential buyer of a Patagonia jacket. Clearly, the person who has placed the jacket in their online cart is already convinced of its durability, suitability, and other factors that make it a keen choice for their wardrobe.
But if that person abandons their online cart, it’s reasonable to deduce that they may have had some price sensitivity. Here, mindset messaging might include retargeting ads on Facebook and other websites, offering a coupon for $10 off if they return to complete the purchase.
For corporations, the implications of these changing dynamics are clear: Marketing professionals must continue to hone their craft in the new reality of the customer journey – being mindful of the funnel bulge (and feasting on opportunities within it) and using mindset messaging as an ally. For sales pros, they must continue their evolution to being more consultative in nature, answering specific questions and building confidence in the company, its products and services.
If you succeed in following this advice, your company, whether it’s in B2B or B2C space, should continue to successfully earn more bread, stay out of jams, and leave the competition burned.
If you’d like to discuss more, reach out for a chat.