What Stevie Wonder can teach us about customer relationships

By Aden Forrest, Managing Director, ANZ at Marketo

When Stevie Wonder sang ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ (talk to your grandparents if you’re not familiar with it) he wasn’t singing about marketing automation. It was a love song, and he was intent on forging a relationship, quickly.

‘Here I am, I’m yours.’

A touch arrogant, don’t you think? Even for a superstar.

Modern consumers think the same way. The rapidity of ‘Signed, sealed, delivered’ is too much. Whether we’re buying for business or buying for ourselves we want to research online, assess the alternatives and make a considered decision. In short, we want to take our time.

Modern day marketers understand this and they’ve changed their approach. Pushy sales campaigns don’t work any more. Instead the focus is on providing the information people need to help guide their decision making. Really, it’s exactly like dating.

Dr Jeremy Nicholson is ‘The Attraction Doctor’ for the US website Psychology Today. He says relationships fail when we spend too long evaluating a partner and not enough time dating, telling them what you want and seeing whether they can deliver. In other words, you can evaluate all you like, but you have to embark on a relationship before you know whether you are really compatible. Taking your time on this dating phase ensures you don’t suffer buyer’s remorse on your honeymoon.

That’s how we treat business relationships too, particularly if we’re talking about something that costs a wad of money.  Just like in love, we want to know how it will turn out in the long term. You don’t want to ask yourself, ‘Will my boss think I’ve formed a bad match for the business?’

That’s why marketing today is all about taking a potential customer through all the dating phases – getting to know each other, sharing conversations, getting serious and then, ultimately, making a commitment. The only difference is that, unlike dating, at least for most people, in business we do this simultaneously with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people at the same time.

To make such intimacy possible marketers have turned to automation. We look at how people respond to messages then react with an algorithm and a smart piece of relevant content. You might think it sounds a lot like faking sincerity, but it’s not really. When your prospective customer wants to talk to you, you can be there showing all interactions thus far. When the time is right for talking you have the information on hand so your prospects aren’t confused. Again, handy for commerce or dating.

So, too much too soon is a bad thing. But perhaps Stevie Wonder was right in a way. Well, of course he’s right, the guys a legend! And when he sang “you got my future in your hands”, he was spot on. First, he was right that girls make the call when it comes to giving a relationship the go-ahead. But it applies in the business world too. The buyer always has the call. The overly presumptuous seller will get nowhere.

And that’s pretty much where marketers have been going wrong, for decades. Advertising has been all about ‘Here I am, I’m yours’. The campaign has been ‘signed, sealed, delivered’ and the song is over. Onto the next one. Do we really expect such immediate results? If Stevie Wonder can’t woo someone in 2 minutes 45 seconds, what chance have you got?

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Marketo, sponsor of the 2014 Marketing Summit

Article supplied by Marketo, sponsors of the 2014 Marketing Summit to be held Wednesday 28 May at Rydges Southbank, Brisbane.  Last minute tickets are available until May 27 – click here to register.

 

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The Australian Marketing Institute gratefully acknowledges the support of the 2014 Marketing Summit Sponsors.

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