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VOL. 129 | NO. 82 | Monday, April 28, 2014
Graber Atkinson

Michael Graber & Jocelyn Atkinson

Go Deep or Go Home


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We meet companies and nonprofits who have been marketing to the same lists for years. Often, these lists and the assumptions about the people on their lists are more than a decade old. These aged lists may have been scrubbed, but that is simply for those who have fallen off the grid, one way or another. This point should be obvious to any reader of this column: there are major problems with this scenario.

First off, organizations marketing to the same list for years lose the feel of how their buyers make decisions. Their selling instincts dull, and then they tend to think of names on the list as objects rather than subjects with rich, full lives, motivations and choices. In essence, they lose their hunting impulse, their sense of courtship, and reduce a possible valuable customer relationship into a vague, impersonal slot machine, settling for a single transaction with low odds.

Second, people are dynamic, not static. If these organizations put their prospects into a rigid category instead of knowing them on a deeper level, they will be marketing to a snapshot that is no longer valid. Think of yourself or your children 10 years ago to demonstrate this point. People are one of the most progressive species on the planet. Fortunes can be made, lost and regained in a decade – and if your customer information keeps the same basic inputs, you are out of touch with reality.

Third, your weakest competitors are marketing to the same list. Incredibly, they are marketing to them with a similar value proposition, brand promise, feature and benefit set, and price range. They, too, are eking out a living on the after fumes of cobwebbed insights from a decade ago, and cannot think outside of the confines of a strategy set when the world was a different place.

Fourth, the most egregious sin: They don’t have any actionable insights about the market, the people in the market, the trends and forces that shape the market, and they do not renew and transform their innovation and marketing efforts to position as a leader in their category. This is the classic deadly sin of sloth. If it exists in your organization, eradicate it or risk extinction.

Face it: this is the post-industrial world, the economic era of innovation. These innovations are steeped in human-to-human valves. You have to know a person to go this deep.

Call it a deep dive, a voice of the customer; just get out of your own head and your rut-like routines and get inside the homes, routines, rituals and hearts of your people. Honor those that buy from you or give to you, as subjects with dynamic lives.

By investing in them, you create a win-win relationship. This quid pro quo, these repeat sales, will not happen if you keep playing the old lists game and never spend time with your prospect base. Go deep.

Jocelyn Atkinson and Michael Graber run the Southern Growth Studio, a strategic growth firm based in Memphis. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.

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