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Why Your Sales and Marketing Strategy is Failing
Last week I was sitting in a café with my partner when we decided to go to Iceland on holiday in 3 weeks’ time. She said to me, “you look at the flights and I’ll look at the Airbnbs”.
I bet you have read that and think it’s quite natural to sit down, pick up your mobile phone and start searching on the internet. That is the point, we are all empowered buyers today.
In fact, there’s been a perfect storm in digital with social media, the internet, mobile and then the Covid-19 pandemic, which accelerated our requirement to be online and our ability to be comfortable online as well. There was a time I used to carry cash on me for car parks, now I pay with an app. In fact, my partner and I were in Tuscany this summer and we were able to use that one same app there. Digital is borderless, whatever the politicians say.
We live and work in the physical world, we also live and work in the digital world. Often now, we are used to having a mixture of the two. My partner and I will have conversations while using our phones, which is natural for many, if not all, of us. If we take the example of us searching for the weekend in Iceland, I might show her a flight and she might show me an example of one of the Airbnbs she has found. Our conversations and life intertwine physical and digital.
The problem is that most organizations, even though we work in the physical and digital world in real life, think we only live in the physical world when it comes to sales and marketing. Just think about the way a company may use cold calling as a way to find demand. This assumes that somebody will pick up the phone. It is the same with email marketing. I subscribe to very few newsletters, so if any spam email comes into my inbox, I create rules so that all emails from them in the future will go straight to the wastepaper basket.
Think about advertising. There are many ad-blocking technologies one can use. This all adds up to say that the classic way of creating demand, which is interruption marketing, does not work anymore. In fact, LinkedIn quotes cold calling as having a 98% failure rate and Hubspot says that email marketing has a 97% failure rate. I don’t know if you are like me, but I find buying a bit of a dance. Why? Well, we hate salespeople. We know they will try and sell to us, and it will probably be something we don’t want. So, we avoid them. The internet is a great way to do just that.
The other thing we have to dodge are brands. They still push out brochures, brochureware and white papers. We avoid all that too. Why? Because we know the brochures will all read the same, “buy my product because we are great”. We see many companies who have invested millions to spam out brochures on social media, in the name of employee advocacy. The problem with this is that it does not matter who shares your brochures if the audience is not interested. In fact, many companies are training social media algorithms, and their customers to ignore their employees.
But what about the website? Have you ever played the website game?
Read out a website to a friend and see if they can tell you what brand it is or what they do. Research shows that buyers avoid websites because they all look and sound the same. The only reason we go to a website is to see if the company “exists”. Hubspot research states that the average dwell time on a website is 2 to 4 minutes.
Having read all that, you will be saying, “yes, I know that, you haven’t told me anything new”. I agree, but this is exactly how you still market your company. We talk to dozens of companies each week and an overwhelming pattern of the problems these businesses face is caused by the fact that they are enthralled by the way things used to be. There seems to be a “toolbox of marketing” which was created 20 years ago and it still hasn’t changed. So, when marketers reach into that toolbox, they decide to do the same old, same old, even though they know it does not work.
I recently read on social media a senior marketing figure explaining how because something worked five years ago, it will work today. Five years ago, before the pandemic, we were all happy to commute to offices. The world has clearly changed. So why hasn’t your sales and marketing?
Response rates from advertising, email marketing, events, sponsorship and cold calling have all changed to the point where they are unrecognisable from a decade ago. With success rates of 2%, which is a failure rate of 98%, no Board would sign that off. But companies still hold on to the belief that they are doing something wrong rather than that these mechanisms not working anymore.
Analyzing response rates, trying ever more costly and complex campaigns and creative treatments, increasing frequency and hunting for lookalike audiences will not overcome the elephant in the room. Your ad can have a bunch of supermodels that you fly off to the world’s best locations and you can get the best photographer and the best copywriter, but your advert is still just 1 of 10,000 the average person will see in a day.
I’m sure somebody will say at this point that they have a “martech stack” that they can use to drive-up response rates. But this doesn’t change the fact that people do not respond well to these techniques anymore. Have you admitted to your Board yet that the key to your marketing strategy is annoying as many people as possible and burning through what goodwill your brand has?
The trend of people not liking being sold to is unlikely to abate, so you need to try something different because you can’t keep hoping that the old ways will come back into fashion again. People have moved on. Your prospects have moved on.