Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Flying Cars, Wall Flowers, and Red-headed Stepchildren; 3 Types of Marketing Challenges

One of the most common questions I get with marketing audiences is where in the funnel to focus on to get the best return on their investment. The answer depends on what your marketing challenge is. I categorize them into three basic types of challenge.

The Flying Car: You are able to solve a problem that most of the world is unaware can be solved. Given that they are unaware that a way of solving the problem exists, potential buyers continue to do things as they always have, even if inefficient, and are not looking for your solution.

The Wallflower: The problem that you solve is known, but you are not a vendor that comes to mind when prospective buyers are looking for vendor options.

The Red-Headed Stepchild: The problem you solve is known, and you are a vendor who is evaluated when potential buyers are looking for solutions, but you are not selected.

Obviously these categorizations are very broad, but most marketing organizations are able to categorize their main marketing challenge loosely as one of these three. Once you have done so, you can begin to focus in on marketing options that best tackle each of these problems.

If you are challenged with a Flying Car marketing issue, focusing on awareness and education efforts is key. Educating the market through news, press, and analysts, or directly as Exeros did are great initiatives. Similarly, viral marketing initiatives can succeed in getting the right message to the right audience if done well.

If the main challenge you face is the Wallflower marketing issue, focusing on search engine optimization, search engine marketing, webinars, and events to build awareness of your solution in that category. In tackling this challenge you are mainly looking to grow traffic and inquiries (with the right audience), so the techniques and metrics are well established.

If, however, you face a Red-Headed Stepchild issue, you must focus on efforts that build your credibility and reputation as a vendor and guide the prospective buyer to consider factors in their decision that highlight your strengths. You can do this through great lead nurturing, working with key bloggers and influencers, or even opening up your internal processes to your buying audience as Kadient did to build buyer trust.

By defining what type of marketing challenge you face, you allow your team to better focus on the techniques and communication vehicles that best tackle those challenges.
Many of the topics on this blog are discussed in more detail in my book Digital Body Language
In my day job, I am with Eloqua, the marketing automation software used by the worlds best marketers
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Anonymous said...

This is a very cool analogy Steve. Puts all the main challenges into perspective quite simply. Loved it!

Anonymous said...

I think this is a useful analysis for management. However, building awareness is a very expensive way of getting people into the funnel. SEO targets suspects, the people who are trying to solve a problem but don't know how, and their universe of search terms defines the client's Total Available Search Market. For B2B, understanding the difference between suspect behavior and prospect behavior is key. Finding more suspects at a low cost is (IMHO)the most effective marketing spending you can do.

Steven Woods said...

John, it's a great point on search. It is interesting though, how search terms can differ, and can indicate buyers in different phases of their buying process. For example, searching for general, pain-related terms "sales coaching", "sales efficiency", might indicate a person doing general educatio, whereas searching for "sales enablement platform" might indicate someone looking for a specific solution to a pain, and "Kadient CRM Integration" is someone who is validating a specific vendor option. Each of these maps very well to one of the marketing challenges. Thanks for bringing up the search side of the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Nice one. I like the metaphors. Might be a few more types -- like when you're trying to displace an existing solution.