You haven’t had much luck with marketing.  

We hear you.

“Why is marketing so often a headache for CEOs?

Why is it so tough for B2B companies to get marketing right? I hear dozens of horror stories a year: The CMO who only lasted 9 months because he or she spoke in platitudes. The marketing team that is good at tactics but too far removed from the market. Sales departments (and sometimes CEOs) that wonder what marketing actually does. Campaigns that generated poor results. Those can be challenges for sure.

In 20+ years as a marketing leader, working with, assessing and advising hundreds of companies and conducting nearly 700 customer interviews, I’ve found that the root cause of these challenges is often the same: “B2B marketers are talking past their customers.”  Studies validating this issue have been done by McKinsey Consulting and others.

Companies win because they have better customer insights.

There’s something too many companies assume, guess or simply overlook before they start investing in marketing:

What does the world look like from the customers’ perspective? What they are really thinking, what they actually need (vs. what you are selling), how they describe their challenges in real-world language and how they make decisions.

Once you have these insights–we call them Elevator Rants–you can translate them into relevant and differentiated products and services, positioning, value proposition and messaging that will be hyper-relevant to their target audience. Knowing the customer doesn’t solve all marketing and sales problems–but it certainly makes marketing and selling a whole lot easier.

Honest answer:
When’s the last time you met with a customer when you weren’t trying to sell something or resolve a situation?

Some of the CEO “Elevator Rants” we hear:

  • "Our sales people are basically going into battle unarmed--with no differentiators that are meaningful to the target."
  • "We don't really know why our marketing and sales results suck, so don't know where to start fixing them."
  • “Most marketing and sales vendors talk about quick fixes or the latest shiny object.”
  • "I've been burned by too many marketing and sales 'experts' who deal in platitudes not outcomes."
  • “We aren’t growing fast enough.”
  • “We focus too much on features and benefits.”
  • “Our messaging and value prop don’t resonate."
  • “We don’t have a clear positioning.”
  • “We lose too many deals we should be winning.” “We look and sound too much like others in our space.”

The ROI on listening.

Better engagement across all channels.
Increased campaign metrics.
Increased sales win rates.
Improved return on marketing investment.
Reduced marketing waste.
  • “Bob is is relentless, in a positive way, about using a customer as the reference point (‘what would the customer think?’). This really rooted us with the audience and prevented us from sounding like we were talking to ourselves.”

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    Brent Schimke
    Chief Operating Officer, DataCubed
  • “In meeting with Bob for just an hour or so, I got precious new clarity on our go-to-market strategy and priorities—something I’d been wrestling with for two years (with multiple marketing resources).

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    Alison Whitmire
    President, Learning in Action Technologies
  • “He applies business savvy and experience to make marketing a good investment rather than simply a series of activities that may or may not have the desired result.”

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    Ric Fleisher
    COO, Upside Door; Co-Founder, Urgent.ly, EVP, Cougaar Software
  • “Great results came from our deep engagement using Bob’s ‘customer listening’ approach, because it got right to the heart of the true value of our product–from the customer perspective–beyond fuzzy platitudes.”

    Read the entire story here.

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    Peter Cresse
    Executive Vice President, CloverETL
  • “The feedback from every Partner, as well as my assessment of the effort, was outstanding and led to tangible results, including the partners’ satisfaction with their NAFCU partnership.”

    Read the entire story here.

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    David Frankil
    President, NAFCU Services Corp.
  • “Rather than focusing on tactics like SEO, email, print or events, Bob started by getting us to look at our motives. In other words, spending a dollar on traditional marketing meant not investing in, say product development, support, or an additional sales person.”

    Read the full story here.

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    John Kraft
    CEO, ServerVault (acquired by Carpathia)
  • “You rarely find this combination of strategy and creativity in one resource.”

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    David Trachtenberg
    Chief Solutions Officer, vRad (acquired by MEDNAX)
  • “We got actionable customer insights that led to powerful creative concepts.”

    Watch video.

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    Tien Wong
    Serial Entrepreneur & Investor
  • “The changes to our positioning and pitch made a huge and immediate difference.”

    Read the entire story..

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    Pat Friel
    Managing Partner, Lochlin Partners
  • “Bob synthesized our story so it clearly presents what we are about and makes our marketing more effective.”

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    Bryan Gernert
    CEO & Co-Founder, Resonate, Inc.

This Inc. 5000 CEO did something shocking to “decommoditize” his business: He listened. 

“Shut up and listen.”

(OK, that’s not exactly what he said.)

To get your customers to listen to you, you have to listen to them first. Get a complimentary Elevator Rant diagnosis.

Or just reach out to chat.

Bob London, Chief Listener & Strategist
+1 240-994-7644
bob@chieflisteningofficers.com
“Be skeptical of executives, companies and experts who say they can fix your marketing and sales without first making sure they–and you–truly understand your customers.”
– Bob London
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What the Dalai Lama actually said was, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”  Sometimes I wish the Dalai Lama had been a bit more direct in explaining the value of listening instead of talking. Especially business people–and marketers in particular.

If you think about it, the vast majority of time and money we invest in marketing and sales is on outreach. Social media, content marketing, email campaigns, telemarketing, inbound marketing, events, account-based marketing. Sometimes it feels like the flavor of the year–or month.

And when you add it all up our customers just hear and see a giant wall of noise. Which of course makes it harder for each subsequent marketing and sales message to get through. That about sums up today’s marketing-industrial complex, a battle of mutually assured destruction where companies are trying to break through the clutter–but end up just creating more of it.

What can we do to prevent wasting our collective breath (and budgets) shouting at the marketplace? The answer–which I’ve learned over the course of 20+ years in the marketing wars–is shockingly simple:

Before we open the marketing an sales floodgates (or shoot the lock off the company’s wallet, as a former colleague says), we must spend more time getting the customer’s real perspective. It’s there for the asking.

By posing the right questions in the right way–in the right setting–you will get new insights that will supercharge your business. Clearer positioning, more meaningful differentiators and more relevant messaging.

These are the foundations of successful marketing and sales that too often get overlooked.  Get them right and all of your marketing and sales investments work harder.

– Bob London, 2017