Try to Avoid FUD in Marketing Communications

I find it interesting how one industry trend / improvement can often lead to new problems.  Growing globalization of manufacturing systems is a trend that has been in place for well over a decade.  It has put a new threat on the table that isolated plants never faced – the threat of a cyber attack from remote locations.  This is a threat that will undoubtedly catch some manufacturers off guard, but, theoretically, this threat has been around for at least 10 years.

Having a perspective from working in the network security industry, administration and implementation of a new security system typically doesn’t just happen on its own, given the tight focus on improving bottom line results.  Often, it takes a cataclysmic event to warrant the additional, new expenditure on a security measure.  It takes a global “black eye” on the industry to get serious traction and attention by those not yet impacted by the event.

For Visa card merchants, it was the TJ Max high jacking of information from at least 45.7 million credit and debit cards.  Hackers accessed customer information in a security breach that the discount retailer disclosed back in 2007.  See the story here. After this event, security became a top of mind event.

FUD_hammer1From a marketing perspective, there is no tougher topic to communicate and try to influence purchase behavior. The gatekeepers seem to have only a vague connection between what is happening to their competitors and what might happen at their own firm. With everyone over-worked today – often for less pay in our current recession / post-recession period, not many managers are looking to take on a new job or responsibility.

One thing for certain, the FUD approach doesn’t seem to work. Trying to use Fear, Uncertainty or Doubt to “hammer down” a purchase decision seems to backfire more often than not, leaving a bad taste in the mouth for those prospects you reach out to.  It is almost as if your reader doesn’t believe it, doesn’t want to believe it, or, if the numbers are so bad, can’t believe it. I have found that the best approach is to simply lay out the facts whenever possible, pointing to the probability of a serious event occurring, and how that likelihood of happening might impact that person’s company and job, as a “soft selling” message approach.

As an example, security is really a preventative purchase rather than a “threat” one. So, perhaps it should be viewed as an insurance cost to manage or mitigate risk.  Therefore, the right person to speak with is not the IT manager whose job will be harder to implement a new system, but rather, the one who is responsible for managing the company’s risk.  This might instead be the CFO or controller, but most likely, will be someone in the corporate office, rather than an IT or single plant manager.

The first key to effective marketing communications is to understand who the best person to speak to is.  With that settled you can then figure out how to write with the appropriate message, tone and wording to get their attention.  This can be the first step to building credibility as a trusted adviser – a company that your prospect wants to do business with. A trusted adviser doesn’t try to scare their client into doing something. Instead, they try to offer insights to trends and analytical support to help them make the best decision given the current environment and knowledge available.
Gordon Benzie is a marketing adviser and business plan writer that specializes in preparing and executing upon business plans and marketing strategies. Gordon can be found on Google+.

Evolving Social Behaviors Necessitate a Change in Marketing Communications

I would propose a correction to one of Benjamin Franklin’s famous quotes.

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

benjamin_franklin_nothing_certain_but_death_and_taxes_and_technologyI think he missed a third certainty:  technology advances.  Since early inventions such as the cross bow or sword to the digital society of today, social patterns have changed as new weapons, inventions or technology advances are introduced into a culture or society.  Early warring nomads with a weapon advantage expanded their geographical reach to take precious resources, land and women … and as a result, these actions then changed cultures.

Today’s technology advances can be attributed in part to the proliferation of digital data that is increasingly universally available – viewable to an audience of one, or to a much larger group.  The way we interact, communicate and entertain as part of our social lifestyle has changed, and will continue to do so, as a direct response to this technology advance.  As marketers, we must also change.

For example, the changing technology advance of the digital video recorder (DVR) has triggered a new social behavior of fast forwarding through commercials.  Commercial communications effectiveness as a branding or lead generation tool has declined, reducing the return on investment of an advertising spot.

These types of changes necessitate a questioning of prior lead generation and business development techniques.  By examining emerging social patterns, new opportunities for marketing communications can be revealed, often better than the approaches they replaced.  The objective of a marketer hasn’t changed.  What has changed is the medium and method of attempting to influence a purchase decision to be in favor of their product or service.

The key is to reach out to where people are socially interacting, to then be part of that community, which will then assist with your marketing objectives.  This is why social networking communities are so hot right now, and why every marketer is under pressure to understand this medium and figure out how to monetize a revenue model tied to this activity.

Look at the Internet, as a form of lead generation, and an example of how good can come with the digital revolution.  Google is a very profitable company because their ad revenue model is highly effective.  Never before have marketers been able to pin point prospective customers by filtering search activity by selective words and phrases, with very calculated return on investment to better fine tune spend rates and ad performance metrics.

One of the toughest challenges to deal with in times of technology advances is when your own business or industry becomes a victim in the steadily advancing society.  No one wants to be the next buggy whip manufacturer, yet in order for change to occur, there must be a thinning of the herd to make room for a new wave of advancement and enlightenment.
Gordon Benzie is a marketing adviser and business plan writer that specializes in preparing and executing upon business plans and marketing strategies. Gordon can be found on Google+.