A.G. Lafley is the CEO of Procter & Gamble and his
one simple rule has changed P&G from a floundering
corporate giant to one whose stock has doubled: "The
simple principle of life," he told a group of laundry
executives, "is to find out what she wants and give it
to her. It's worked in my marriage for 35 years and it
works in laundry." ["P&G Chief's Turnaround Recipe: Find
Out What Women Want" - Wall Street Journal, June 1,
Mr. Lafley's statement is about women consumers and,
as the article states, reflects a philosophical shift on
the part of P&G to look outside the company for
solutions to problems. In other words, P&G is spending
hours watching women use their products to learn what
women care about most.
When it comes to B-to-B, however, there is a huge
disconnect between how companies are pitching their
products and what prospects want - a point borne out by
the articles I've been writing for
MarketingSherpa. Each article focuses on how to
market to a specific job title, ie: How to Market to
Sales Executives, and which marketing tactics work best.
(You can view the complete list of articles at my
In order to write these articles, I've spent hours on
the phone interviewing numerous executives and
professionals. It has been a true learning experience
because I am hearing first-hand how marketing and sales
efforts are falling on deaf ears. The number one
complaint? Companies simply do not understand to whom
they're marketing and why.
The constant refrain I'm hearing is, "Don't give me
hyped product information. Give me information that will
help me do my job better. Understand my job and what
issues I'm facing. I'll be much more inclined to talk to
you if you aren't 'marketing' at me."
To craft on-target messages, you have to know to whom
you're writing. And the only way to do that is to know
your company's prospects - from what they deal with
every day to the issues affecting their jobs.
Follow the tips outlined below:
Tip #1. Attend trade association meetings.
One way to learn about industry trends and
big-picture issues is to attend your prospects'
professional organization meetings, seminars, and
conferences. You'll pick up a great deal of information
- including what your prospects are saying about your
company and your competitors.
Tip #2. Become good friends with editors/sales reps
of trade publications.
Trade publications are a great way to get information
about the very people to whom you are marketing. Many
publications conduct readership surveys; Machine Design,
a book for design engineers, recently conducted surveys
on how engineers find information and what job
challenges they face. And, don't be afraid to call your
advertising sales rep or editor and ask him or her for
marketing tips and strategies. As one editor I
interviewed said, "Wow, no one has ever asked me these
Tip #3. Scour the Internet for relevant information.
You can find a wealth of information about your
prospects' industry and their pain points simply by
researching the Internet. Want to learn more about a
particular job? Visit the U.S. Department of Labor.
Don't understand insider jargon? Type "define: [word]"
into Google for sites listing the definition. Look for
industry white papers, surveys, and reports - many of
them don't cost anything. The CMO Council, for example,
has a number of high-value reports that are available
once you complete the site's registration process.
Tip #4. Monitor blogs and discussion forums.
Want to know what your customers are saying about
your company and its products? Make it a point to visit
industry forums and blogs. It amazes me how people will
disparage a product online or highly recommend it to
their peers - all on public forums. To see if your
company is being discussed in blogs, go to
Technorati.com and type your company's name in the
Tip #5. Go on sales calls with your sales reps.
If Mr. Lafley, a CEO of a $6.5 billion dollar
corporation, can visit women in their homes, then you
can visit prospects in their work places. B- to-B sales
lead expert Mac McIntosh advises marketers to go on one
or two sales calls a month or to call distributors and
customers for feedback. Meeting prospects face-to-face
at their work place is invaluable: You'll hear their
objections and why they may be considering your
competitors' product. You'll also learn who else is
influencing the purchase - allowing you to craft
specific messages to each influencer (ie: IT, C-level,
actual end user, etc).
Giving prospects what they want is easy once you know
to whom you're marketing. Do due diligence on your
target audience, understand their pain points, and know
which marketing tactics work best. Your copy will be
much more "on target."