It Takes More Than a Technology Stack to Drive Demand

By Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy Officer

October 12, 2016

tech-stack

aka…if your content sucks, technology just speeds up the sucking.

It’s crazy. At last count there were something like 4,000 tech companies available for the so-called “martech stack” – the multi-layered collection of automation, tools and systems designed to drive modern marketing.

Given the heightened focus on the stack and the continued explosion of technology players, it’s tempting to imagine that vetting the vast array of first-class solutions and investing in the best option for each step of the buyer’s journey will solve your most pressing marketing challenges.

Granted, if your marketing process is broken, an optimized stack may be what you need, next. But, if your message and content sucks, a great martech stack will only speed up the sucking – and broadcast that sucky story to more people.

No offense.

All of these technologies work as advertised. In fact, most of the companies I get the chance to work with are not worried or complaining about their technology stack. They fret about whether the stories they are putting into their B2B demand generation content will actually incite actions that lead to pipeline.

That was the message of a recent keynote I delivered to the Digital Sales Camp, an online conference focused on digital selling strategies. Below are some of the key points I focused on in that discussion (along with a link if you want to hear a free recording):

Answer the most important prospect question: Why Change?

If you’re creating demand generation content, and using digital interactions to create leads, the question people you’re engaging want an answer to is “why should I change?” In other words, they want vendors to make a compelling case as to why they need to leave their “status quo” approach, and do something different. If you can be the company that engages prospects by answering this critical Why Change question, you will dramatically improve your odds of avoiding the dreaded no decision and winning the deal. Forrester Research found that 74% of executive buyers give their business to the company that’s able to create the buying vision and only 26% to the winner of a fair-and-square competition. A great “why change” message is essential if your marketing content is going to be the good enough to disrupt the status quo and create a buying vision.

Have a Point of View, and Make it Distinct

To accomplish this you need to deliver a message that gets customer to see their status quo as unsafe and commit to a new safe path, which is you. Those conversations don’t happen when you’re responding to known customer needs discovered through voice of the customer research. They only happen when you introduce “unconsidered needs” they may not even know about. Unconsidered needs are business problems or challenges that prospects are unaware of, or whose size, speed and impact they underestimate with respect to their business.

Creating a distinct point of view message and content, requires you to create some risk by identifying and introducing these unconsidered needs, and then resolving them with your “unexpected strengths.” (These are those capabilities you used to tag onto your old VOC-driven messages and call them value-added capabilities.)

My company, Corporate Visions, has conducted research that found leading off your demand generation messages with unconsidered needs—versus starting off by responding only to the known needs—can give you a statistically significant boost in perceived uniqueness, to the tune of almost 50% and a 10+% increase in persuasiveness to change.

This is also supported by research called “loss aversion,” coined by social psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. They proved that humans are 2-3x more likely to make a change, make a choice or do something different in order to avoid a loss than to attain a gain.

Go Beyond Introducing Risk

It’s become very popular today to talk about providing insights to your prospects in your demand generation content. Most people think an insight consists of some surprising data or factoids that “set prospects’ hair on fire” to emotionally engage them and incite them to take action.

But according to another study we did at Corporate Visions, you make a much bigger impact on emotions and behavior change if your insights messaging includes a bucket of water to douse the flames.

In other words, creating risk with your insight-based message is not enough. You must combine risk and resolution in your messaging and content. The research showed that you stand to gain a statistically significant improvement in your emotional impact (12 percent) and behavioral impact (9 percent) by pairing risk and resolution in your message, versus just presenting risk alone.

The technology platforms will continue to proliferate, and companies will continue to invest in the best point solutions for each stage of the modern marketing process. But it’s your core message that will determine the success of these investments, not the other way around. For a deeper dive into the messaging concepts above, check out my recent keynote presentation at Digital Sales Camp, and feel free to share it with your messaging and content creators.

This article originally published in CMO.com.