Over the last few posts I have been talking about how better questions can make a difference in the success that you achieve in the market. While my focus is on the B2B market, the general principle will apply to any market.
Today the questions I am talking about would help in making your messaging and route to market better. It will then help you identify the constraints you can face, the models you have to apply etc. Again I would highly recommend Dean Jackson’s Morecheeselesswhiskers.com podcast and his & Joe Polish podcast ilovemarketing.com
1. Is the product or service that you are wanting to sell going to be used as a first time buy. If someone has never used a motorized vehicle then a 100CC mobike is a first time buy for them. Trying to sell them a 650CC motorcycle will not work.
2. Will the product be an upgrade or replacement. If you know the customer is already a user of your Air Conditioner for the last 5 years then they could be ready for a replacement or upgrade. In IT is called a refresh cycle which each company decides.
3. Will the product or service be for emergency use. If a tornado strikes and there’s a damaged roof or water in the basement then you need to get it out NOW. Then there’s no time for evaluation of multiple options.
4. Will the product be an accessory to a key product. Smart phone covers are an every day example. So you need to be able to reach those buyers who use the phone for which you have the covers.
5. Will the product/ service be for the repair of an item. Duck tape is a very good example of this or a tyre repair shop.
6. Is what you are selling aspirational in nature. Then you have to target the people who already use something and may now have the money to aspire for something bigger or because their families or job responsibilities have changed. Aspirational is a little different from upgrade in the sense that upgrades are generally considered incremental in nature.
There could be some specific scenarios which apply to your business and have not been listed here.
Once you can map where all your product or service plays, you can design the market route, the messaging etc.
Generally I keep my posts short so you can read them while waiting in the line to get coffee. This one has become slightly longer. I hope its useful.
Let me know your views.
Till next time then.
I have had a lot of situations where we thought we had an amazing product / service but we were not getting a response from the market.
We tried various scenarios, tested various markets but the response was just not there.
In B2B technology services, you may have a wonderful product or service, which is well differentiated but the market does not respond to your service. This inspite of the fact that you are looking at a very small niche, you have identified your Ideal Customer (the person / role) and talking about the pain points that they may have.
The reason for this as I have explained in my earlier posts is that technology companies follow an “infrastructure” or “ecosystem” model. Which means if your product / service does not easily fit into the existing infrastructure then the adoption will be very low.
In this situation instead of asking questions like is this the right market to focus or does this market have the ability to pay. The questions that need to asked could be more oriented towards what could be preventing the audience from responding to your messaging.
Is it that you don’t explain how you fit into the “infrastructure” or is it that they feel it will be too much of an effort to even think about your product / service. To be able to analyse this you need to sit quietly and brainstorm all the possible reasons which could prevent them from interacting with you.
Once you list all the items then quickly start testing to eliminate each of the issues and see which ones have the most impact.
Most often I have found, the reason for not getting to the right answer has been the fact that I had not reached the right question. Once I had asked the right set of questions, things were generally a cake walk.
Till next time then.
I have already written a few posts on the ability to ask better questions.
When you are in a leadership position its very easy to get caught in the “why” spin. I am also at fault on this because I have been a big follower of the 5 Why’s process. The challenge which I always had was that I was dealing with people – whether my own sales team or the customer.
It’s not always easy to get the emotional side with a Why question.
The second part was that in a lot of cases you get multiple points which seem to be the root causes. The key is how do you prioritize among them.
When you’re dealing with machines and factories it is relatively easier to prioritize using things like the Theory of Constraints.
Today while I was going over the book The Road Less Stupid by Keith Cunningham I came across another type of question which he gives. I think you should read this book if you are someone who makes a living by managing teams.
He says one question structure which he has found very useful is “How might I …. so that I can…..”
I tried this same structure on one of the pertinent problems we face. Till now my general system for understanding the problem, as I mentioned was the 5 Why’s.
Today however I tried this and the answers which came out were much more constructive. Now I need to see how easily they get implemented. However it did change my thinking and made me less adversarial.
I would suggest you also try this method and off course read the book and let me know your views.
Till next time then.
Understanding which questions to ask is an art. It was said that Socrates had a great method to ask questions which got him to the bottom of a problem.
I have actually been very weak in asking questions. It takes me a lot of understanding to get down to the bottom of things.
I have used frameworks like the 5 Why or 7 Why model to figure things. I have used things like the 80/20 rule to try to identify the small causes for repeatable/fractal patterns.
In most areas in life asking the right questions makes a lot of difference to your success.
In marketing its all the more important because you are dealing with different types of people. In B2B marketing where there are even more players involved at the customer level, understanding the different drivers for each player becomes critical.
If you ask a question about “why is the customer not wanting to buy from me” versus “what could be the compulsions for the customer to not look at my solution ” you could get completely different answers.
Those questions will totally change the way you address the issues in the market. You may be able to figure out a completely different value proposition from what you were thinking about. Your niche or segmentation could completely change.
The other thing about marketing that I have learnt over the years is that there are no absolute truths in the market. The market and its participants have a mind of their own and their perception is their Reality. Once a perception has been created it becomes very difficult to change.
So the bottom line is to think of questions from different vantage points to get to different possibilities and then Test them.
I am still learning this art and working to improve myself. How about you?
Till next time then.