The Impact of Real Buyer Insights on Product Management and Marketing Decisions

If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.

– Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape

Who or what is driving your product decisions?

If you’ve spent your career in product marketing/management in tech companies, you can relate to the above quote from the perspective of both mid-level and senior product marketing executives.

Up and coming product manager/marketers are regularly champions of features, or product positioning that face an uphill battle against the priorities of the Engineering team and the demands of the sales team – stemming from existing customer asks and the most recent competitive sales loss. Add on top of that the biases of a boss, and you’ve got to overcome a lot to bring about a change in emphasis (never mind direction).

product management

Making these directional and investment decisions isn’t actually any easier sitting in the product management/marketing leadership role. They need to make significant go-to-market investments almost weekly, while running an organization, mediating compelling and conflicting arguments from highly opinionated and smart groups – all while trying to listen to the customer. Just a few of the decisions that need to be made:

  • Which feature enhancements need to make the cut in the next release because of customer demand or competitive factors?
  • Which initiatives/project drivers MUST be on your site’s home page and which can be de-emphasized?
  • Are there market niches that are growing or that your company ignores that you could address with a different positioning or marketing campaign?
  • In sales collateral/training, what are the key competitor weaknesses to make sure the reps understand?

Buyer insight provides more clarity for decision-making – if you find the right sources 

Product and positioning decisions are never easy, but almost any internal debate can be swayed by quantifiable insight on buyer preferences and purchasing behavior. However, most companies struggle to bring relevant and accurate data to bear at the right time. Part of the reason is most of the easily available data has a significant bias problem, such as:

  • Insights from deals that your company has won or lost doesn’t reflect the perspective of buyers that were never part of your sales pipeline. TechTarget data shows that unless you are a major player, this is typically much greater than 50% of the market.
  • When you talk with prospects or customers (or getting data that is filtered by sales reps), you know you are not getting the complete story as they try to protect or promote key details that support their position.
  • Custom research efforts take time to kick off and are point in time. These approaches are a poor match for a market that is constantly changing and you must make decisions year-round.
  • Most industry research is written from the perspective of an experienced industry analyst who interprets broader trends or future looking insights furnished by suppliers. This is a very valuable part of understanding the market, but different than buyer data.

How TechTarget helps   

To help product management/marketing leaders find the right representative buyer insight, TechTarget Research has developed Deal ScoreCard. Deal ScoreCard describes how buyers for 20 different Cloud, Data Center, Storage and EUC markets perceive their needs, requirements and vendor opinions at the essential moments of their purchasing cycles, every quarter. Just a few of the insights that it delivers include:

  • Features, project initiatives, workloads – For a specific market, which specific factors (by each category) are most important in a product-market, which are trending up and down quarter over quarter and which are the major vendors in the market perceived to be weak or strong on.
  • What’s important at shortlist v. important at product evaluation – Which issues are most important as buyers shape their plans for a project (budget, product space, important vendors) v. which issues do they see as important when they are deep into rep discussions and technology evaluation. The difference between these moments leads to very different go-to-market investments.
  • Where are market leaders weak – Most challenger technology company strategies are built around a growing weakness or blind spot of a market leader. Deal ScoreCard goes to great lengths to quantify those blind spots.

You can see some of the foundational analyses of a Deal ScoreCard here. If you are interested in learning more about how the in-depth data in Deal ScoreCard can help your organization, please visit TechTarget.com/Research.

[“Source-techtarget”]

The balancing act between numbers (data) and creative efforts while marketing

If you want your business to succeed, you have to be a master of numbers as well as creative ideas. Whether you’re a big-idea person or a number-cruncher, you need to be able to apply at least two to three skills of each to further your marketing goals. Data-driven marketing has its base in science whereas creative marketing involves art. Most marketers find it difficult to make the two meet. However, contrary to popular belief, data and creativity can go hand-in-hand.

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

A good campaign involves numbers as well as creative efforts. Here’s how marketers can strike a balance between the two.

E-Scan offers digital marketing insights

The Credit Union National Association recently released the 2017-2018 Environmental Scan. The E-Scan offers insights in 10 primary areas affecting credit unions, including lending, economics, technology and of course marketing. The E-Scan is a must-read for any credit union executive and is also an outstanding planning tool to use.

The marketing section is entitled “The Big Deal Behind Social Media.” It also mentions many of the other top marketing trends for credit unions, including disruptors, regulations, Generation Z, the evolution of marketing, highly personalized marketing, consumer preferences and the humanization of digital. But the bulk of the section centers around social media and engagement.

According to the E-Scan, there are five factors that come into play when brining engagement into your social media efforts:

(1)    Bring value first

As the E-Scan notes, “social media isn’t always about direct response…..once you’re identified as a serial promoter, people will shut you off and tune you out.” Look for ways to engage—not sell—on your social media platforms.

[“Source-cuinsight”]

Improve Your Marketing Communications With Insights From Neuromarketing

Would you like to significantly improve the effectiveness of your marketing communications? Of course, you would… We all would.

If you were to read Neuromarketing by Patrick Renvoisé and Christophe Morin, you would better understand how to get prospects to respond to your marketing efforts.

This article is the first of two intended to summarize some key arguments of—and encourage you to read—their book to better understand the how and why of effective marketing communication. That’s because it can help you better understand how the brain functions—what it responds to and understands.

Neuromarketing also substantiates the business process for positioning that I’ve been advocating for more than 20 years: Use simple language, make a unique claim that solves a real business problem, and repeat your position over and over to claim it.

The Three Parts of the Brain and Their Functions


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The brain has three distinct parts, according to Renvoisé and Morin, and the best way to improve the effectiveness of your message is to direct your communication to the decision-maker area: the so-called old brain, or what the authors name the reptilian brain. It makes decisions by considering input from both the “new brain” and the “middle brain.”

  1. The new brain thinks: It processes rational data.
  2. The middle brain feels: It processes emotions and gut feelings.
  3. The reptilian brain is much less developed than the other two parts of the brain, yet it makes the decisions: Though it takes into account input from the other two areas of the brain, the reptilian brain pulls the actual trigger for decisions.

In the book How the Brain Works, brain researcher Leslie A. Hart writes, “Much evidence now indicates that the reptilian brain is the main switch in determining what sensory input will go to the new brain, and what decisions will be accepted.”

More recently, in Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner and psychology professor, brilliantly demonstrated that we have two primary systems in the brain. System 2 (the slow brain) is the so-called smart brain, and System 1 (the reptilian brain) is the fast but primitive brain. After 30 years of research, Kahneman concluded: “System 1 still rules.”

Accordingly, to become successful communicators, marketers need to understand how to get through to the reptilian brain.

The Reptilian Brain

This most primitive section of our brain has not yet had enough time, on an evolutionary scale, for written words to influence it. And because the reptilian brain is so primitive, just six types of stimuli reach it. In that light, let’s look at the reptilian brain (note that some of the following content was taken directly from Neuromarketing).

The reptilian brain…

1. Is self-centered. The reptilian brain has no patience or empathy for anything that does not immediately concern its own well-being and survival. Your entire message should focus on your audience, not you: Your audience must hear what you can do for them before they will pay attention to you. Buyers really don’t care whether you are No. 1 or the leader or the most innovative; they are in buy mode because they have a problem. You need to tell them how you solve it!

2. Likes contrast. The reptilian brain is most sensitive to clear contrast, such as before/after, risky/safe, fast/slow. Without a clear-cut choice, the reptilian brain enters into a state of confusion, leading to delayed decision or no decision at all.

Fundamentally, the reptilian brain is wired to pay attention to disruption or changes of state. Those changes may signal what is going on in our environment, so they receive priority in the way they are processed by our reptilian brain.

3. Needs concise input. Since the reptilian brain can’t process language, the use of complicated words slows down the decoding of your message and automatically places the burden of information processing onto the new brain; as a result, your audience will want to “think” about making the decision more than they will want to “act” and decide now.

The reptilian brain can’t process concepts like “a flexible solution,” or “an integrated approach,” without a great deal of effort and confusion. It appreciates simple, easy-to-grasp ideas like “more money,” “unbreakable,” and “24-hour turnaround time.”

4. Focuses on beginnings and endings. The reptilian brain enjoys openings and finales, and often overlooks what’s in between. Placing the most important content at the beginning is therefore a must, as is repeating it at the end. Here’s why:

For survival, it is in the best interest of your reptilian brain to be most alert at the beginning and end of interactions, in case change or new factor is cause for danger. Anything in the middle of your message will be mostly overlooked because once the reptilian brain becomes comfortable, it often goes into a sort of energy-saving mode and pays less attention to its surroundings, often dropping information in the process.

Psychologists call this phenomenon the primacy and recency effects. “The primacy effect is the beginning; you remember it because that is where you started,” wrote clinical psychologist Devin Kowalczyk. “The recency effect is the finish; you remember the end the best.”

Your opening, when you’re presenting or writing, is crucial. If you do not grab your prospects’ attention in the beginning of and exchange, you may lose them forever.

5. Relies on visual stimuli. The reptilian brain is visual. The optic nerve delivers input to the brain 50 times faster than the auditory nerve does. The visual processing capability of our brain has evolved to this level as a matter of survival. You will jump back from a stick that appears to be a snake before you even think about it.

The brain is therefore both extraordinarily fast and dangerously hasty. It is hardwired to make decisions that are based mostly on visual input. By using visual stimuli in your marketing communications, you ensure that you tap into the processing bias that the brain has developed over thousands of years.

6. Is emotional. The reptilian brain is triggered by emotion. Therefore, we remember events better when we have experienced them with strong emotion. “We are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think,” said Antonio Damasio, head of the neuroscience department at UC Irvine.

Taking into account those six characteristics into your marketing communications will give you access to the reptilian brain will immediately improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

The next article in this two-part series explains why specific tactics—such as repetition, use of simple language, and storytelling—will further improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

[“source-smallbiztrends”]