Diagnostic marketing- not Deadend Sales
Marketing is as much an art as a science. It is as much about subjectivity as about quantitative excellence. As much about strategic business objectives as it is about tactical short term advantage.
This is true for customer intelligence gathering, for demand generation, for brand building and for most other aspects of marketing.
Decipherance of intent and customer needs is probably the single most important factor in today’s businesses.
I will put this in context of small businesses – especially the services sector- where it is easier to explain due to non complex/matrix organizations.
(Quirky photo – Attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/2227650138/sizes/m/in/photostream/ )
Thinking Diagnostic marketing not deadend sales
Couple to property agent: We saw your listing on a website, can you give more details?
Prop agent: Yes- It is 1290 sq ft @1100 psf negotiable. We have an open house Saturday 1 PM
Couple: Great- any more details, any facilities, area details…
Prop agent: Yes it is high floor, 20 mins to Train station, one tennis court, pool…
..and the conversation goes on.
Pretty normal conversation.
The problem is this- this is an interrogation session, a Q& A session. You ask me- I tell you. The solution seeker is asking all the questions- the seller responds to the literal questions- not understanding the intent behind the questions. The irony is that the solution seeker does not even know what are the right questions to ask.
The reality is – the couple is looking for a solution- a good home that suits their needs and budget. And Oh! by the way- their kids go to a school near to exactly another house that this agent is selling. The psf selling price is higher- but so much more convenient for the family! Agent has a far better chance of selling that unit- and even getting more commission.
They just need to decipher the real need- and 60% of the job is done.
This agent might strike a deal with just showing around some houses- but this makes it a hit and trial project. And the sales is just Dumb, Deadend sales.
In today’s world of social/word of mouth driven businesses, attracting someone’s attention is less than half the deal done. Even making one sale is not 100% of the job done. Especially in the services sector- where repeat business is the cornerstone and word of mouth is the number 1 vehicle leading to sales.
The property agent needs to provide a solution for the seeker to enable them to buy the house- NOT just sell a house.
Yes- it does look like it is not scalable/not worth is in a retail services scenario (I can speak to 5 prospects in the time I consult with one)- in actuality- this is “Dumb, Deadend sales”- hitting out to many-hoping that some will convert. Widening the mouth of the funnel hoping more will filter out. Digging a well every time you need water.
With this approach, there is more resource leakage, less than optimum efficiency- and deadend sales- even if the sale does occur.
Customer to hairdresser: I want a neat, smart cut- maybe a little short- official looking too
Customer: Erm..do you think short will look good? Not too short
Hairdresser: How short you mean?
Customer: I’m asking you.
Hairdresser: I can cut short from sides and leave the front.
Customer: Huh? Okay never mind- just trim it for now- medium length..
Indecisive? Yes- the customer is undecided.
Economies of scale for the hairdresser? The hairdresser makes money by dealing with customers in multiples.Retail servicing @40 bucks each. Rent is to be paid. “Tell me what you want and get out of here”
Dumb, deadend sale. The customer has no reason to come back, no respect for your solutions, and is likely to look for another solutions. Where will they stop ultimately? They will stop where they are get good recommendations and stay where they feel their wants are deciphered better.
And no- this is not about providing a “Good Service”- this is about deciphering the real need- diagnosing what the problem could be- by asking questions- spending those first few moments understanding what is (really) wanted by the customer?
Here is someone who is clearly seeking for a solution- they want a neat, smart haircut. can you share examples from photos that you have? Don’t have? take the extra step- go to Google search- Type “Short, smart hairstyles +women (or men)”
Diagnose- Ask where does the person work (sales- give a more professional look, advertising creatives- will probably be open to new things…) observe their dress sense- are they a little adventurous (show some funky styles), do they use haircare products (opportunity to cross sell other items)… Spend that little time to decipher what they actually need. I can bet on it- even if the end product is not exceptional, they are still going to come back . And they are still going to refer. You got someone (and their friends)- just because you spent that 20 minutes the first time.
In Deadend sales, you use your expertise for your tactical gains.In diagnostic marketing, you need to put your expertise to best use for the solution seeker.
Can you make further sales out of one sale? Can you convert one deal into many deals? Yes- develop “Diagnostic marketing” skills.
There are more scenarios- and the more ironical ones being the ones where marketing/advertising folks need to demonstrate their excellence in this. Ironically they are the ones who do not. Agencies seek literal briefs- some even needing Step 1, 2 and 3. Dumb Sales. Many clients are probably dumb too- but it is your business on the line first. Then theirs. You are impacted first.
The impact might not be on the bottomline though. Bottomlines can be taken care of by Dumb. Deadend Sales. To go any further in today’s world, you need diagnostic marketing.
Follow these steps- Decipher->Validate->Act->Close
Makes sense? Dumb , Deadend sales or Diagnostic marketing?
PS: I had termed this phenomenon as Decipherance marketing earlier. But recently, while explaining this to a friend- he mentioned that it sounds like a doctor- family doctor- who would know your medical history. While that analogy does not exactly fit this phenomenon- that did allow me to come up with a term that best described this approach- and Diagnostic it is.