Marketing 101 tells us to Connect, Inform and Close. But it’s not as simple as that, especially when human prospects are pressed for time, not that interested, turned off by a presentation and scrutinizing value per dollar.
True marketing done well is art—a masterpiece that delights, moves and solves something within.
When a masterful Marketing Artist gets our business, we hardly notice because we’re getting the right thing. Our pain is abated and our decision feels sound.
When an amateur Marketing Artist graces our path, we’re left confused and disappointed, perhaps even annoyed or offended. Our time has been wasted and our pain remains.
So it was on a recent afternoon when I’d caved to meet with an Af-quack rep (out of respect, I’ve changed the company’s true name).
My husband had sic’d him on me so I felt a duty to at least entertain the prospect. We’d recently revised our individual health insurance with a mighty high deductible so that number/risk was foremost in my mind. I figured, Let’s see what this duck has to say..
The rep emailed me a short video to give me a taste for the company. I watched it and agreed to an appointment. It appeared there was a chance Af-quack could assuage my pain.
The Sales Call and Where it Failed
For the appointment, I drove to my husband’s retail store, a custom bike studio that specializes in high end road and cyclocross bicycles, primarily for the experienced and discerning cyclist (Cyclopedia of Redding, if you are interested).
After ten minutes of waiting, two men in slacks and jackets carrying insurance-y looking portfolios arrived. Are you the rep, I asked? Yes, and this is my trainer, he mentioned, introducing me to his partner. Oooh, nice handshake, his partner cooed to me, at which point I snatched my hand back. Creepy. Patronizing.
I led them to a back office and motioned to some chairs. Hey, that yellow and black bike out there? How much is that? The trainer asked. I have no idea, I replied. (Note to self: This dude just completed his #1 Robotic Sales Call Instruction: Connect. It is clear he isn’t a cyclist and knows nothing about bikes).
The Awkward Crotch Part…
He began his presentation. Using his Ipad, he scrolled through dozens of slides touting the Af-quack company, its status among competitors, its history, its favorite bath toy … I might mention, too, that he held his Ipad between his legs. So not only did I have to be bored for 15 minutes, I was forced to stare at his crotch. Ewww. Awkward.
He peppered his presentation with statements meant to gain traction, for company’s such as yours, and that’s important to business owners like yourself, right? Right?
Then he started down the litany of products he found especially interesting. He zeroed in on Accident Insurance because apparently he’d had an injury and Af-quack paid him $X/day. Or, he said, I could get this package or that package. And I could come out ahead in cash. Isn’t that a good deal? Isn’t it?
Still, not one question for me. Not one question asking why I’d agreed to this meeting. When I finally interrupted and asked about gap insurance, he looked at me and said, What’s gap insurance?
Throughout the presentation, his minion stared at me with a goofy Stepford-smile, nodding his head enthusiastically at key moments as if hoping we could connect on the sheer excitement of these fantasmical benefits.
They managed to convince me that if Af-quack had something for me, I 1) wouldn’t buy it from them, and 2) I would have to read the material and figure it out for myself.
Applying Fails to Content and Marketing
I’ve written before about yin and yang. Sometimes we need to see the dark to see the light. Same here. Bad marketing reminds us how good effective marketing can be. Here’s my take on 6 things we can learn from an Af-quack fail:
1. Be a solution.
Don’t lead with yourself. As I’ve written, you lose your prospect at Hello if you don’t establish their pain point first. If you can solve their problem, they’ll ask about you. This presentation made my eyes glaze over. I’d already watched their video. I knew what I needed but he never asked.
Your web content will be effective only if it promises to solve problems.
2. Be genuine.
Don’t ask stupid questions just for the sake of making a connection. Because it doesn’t make a connection. Know something about your prospect’s business before you pretend to be interested or stab at problems.
Hang out with prospect groups at business clubs or LinkedIn. What are they talking about? Use these points as conversation openers.
3. Be relevant.
Address prospect’s pain points, not yours. I could have cared less about accident insurance. But I heard about accident insurance over and over. It was like stuffing a website with keywords. You might get Google interested, but you’ll never find your prospect if you’ve chosen the wrong keyword.
Quality and relevant content is more important than killing it with keywords.
4. Be prepared.
Learn something about your prospect’s business. When the rep made the statement about companies such as yours, he completely missed it. He was referring to companies with more employees than we have. He made an assumption and wasted my time. Even when I told him we weren’t in that category, he said, Well, if this works for you, you’ll probably find a way. Uh. Wrong.
5. Be authentic.
Forced assent isn’t buy-in. Checking off your Sales Call Checklist doesn’t establish relationship. When he kept asking Right? Right? I didn’t feel closer to a purchase. I felt annoyed.
6. Be mindful.
Technology is cool and all, but staring at someone’s crotch is not. Use technology effectively. Garish colors, too much humor, bad layouts and poor content will kill even a relevant message.