We are dedicated to addressing one of the costliest issues in business:
How do we create marketing strategies that speak to the customer? We listen to them first.
We provide B2B companies with the expertise, tools and inspiration to uncover what we call the customers’ Elevator Rant–the things your target audience is thinking, wishing for and even complaining about on the elevator when you’re not there. We’ve helped dozens of companies translate their customers’ Elevator Rant into insights that have helped them hone their positioning and value proposition, differentiate, improve their marketing and sales messaging, cut through the noise and grow.
I’ve worked with, advised and mentored hundreds of companies and can tell you the difference between the ones that succeed and those that struggle: It all comes down to how well they ‘get’ the customers’ perspective–and then translate that perspective into relevant and differentiated products and services, positioning, value proposition and messaging that will speak to their target audience.
Sounds elementary? You might be surprised how many companies don’t invest in learning what the world looks like from the customers’ point of view. They say, “We talk to our customers all the time!” That’s the point. They meet with prospects and customers in sales (talking) mode–or to put out a fire. They are focusing on their own agenda, not the customer’s. They hire more sales people and increase marketing spend but nothing changes. Because they haven’t checked to see what really matters to the customer.
Pause before you engage that PR agency or content marketing ninja. Ask yourself if you’re ready to buy that marketing automation software. Or hire those five new salespeople? Think about it. You’re paying these resources to help your product or service break through the clutter. But six months later, you sense that all you’ve done is added to it.
Before you hit the marketing and sales “spend” button, you have to have a strategy that’s grounded in customers’ and prospects’ reality: What do they really think, want and need? What are they not getting today from you or other vendors? How do they describe their challenges and priorities in their own words? (Hint: They don’t talk in marketing-speak.)
So about five years ago, I began initiating every client engagement with a series of deep dive conversations with the clients’ customers and prospects. Not interviews or surveys, but two-way conversations where candid thoughts could be shared and fresh, real perspectives could emerge.
During conversations with nearly 700 decision-makers (CFO, CIO, CEO, CMO, etc.), I honed a particularly effective series of questions. And the outcomes have been nothing short of amazing.
These “human to human” interactions revealed a wealth of insights–business drivers, unmet needs, new use cases and competitive advantage–that my clients and I turned into new or improved offerings, clearer positioning, sharper value propositions and differentiators, more relevant messaging and more compelling campaigns.
ROI on listening
Getting the customers’ true perspective will help you create a clear market position, value proposition and differentiators, so that your company will no longer sound like everyone else in your market.
Customers and prospects will actually make time to listen to you. They will pay the price you are asking–because they can’t get the same value elsewhere. Your sales team will be confident and well-armed, so you’ll win more deals. And your marketing investments will be more relevant and productive.
Over and over we’ve seen the themes and insights that emerged from our process cause customers and prospects to lean forward and say, “tell me more.”
Bob London, Chief Listener
Bob London pioneered the outsourced chief marketing officer concept 14 years ago and has worked with, advised and mentored hundreds of businesses to develop marketing strategies by first learning the customer’s true perspective. He serves an Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Maryland’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and an international Mentor at 1776, the global startup incubator. He is a frequent speaker and writer on topics related to his passion–the incredibly valuable insights that come from something shockingly simple: Listening to the customer. What about Bob?
This Inc. 5000 CEO did something shocking to “decommoditize” his business: He listened.
More ears to the ground
Here are two marketing executives that have long-embraced a listening-based approach to marketing. Not surprisingly, they are two of the most successful marketers I’ve had the privilege of working with. We occasionally team up to assist B2B companies with customer discovery and strategy.