One of the most anticipated and important conversations we'll be having at the Seller Forum this week will feature marketers from three nationally prominent brands. (Since the Forum is a closed-door, no-press meeting, only those in attendance will hear from these marketers first-hand.) What I want to talk about in today's post is why top marketers would come to meet with a roomful of sales leaders - because they are the same reasons why they might be likely to open to door to your company. But only if you're truly ready.
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Let's start with the reasons why clients have historically not been willing to meet with sellers. Truth be told, our view of client interaction has been fairly unsophisticated. After arguing our case with the agency media planning team - the lower court - we'd try and appeal to the client - the appellate court - to overturn the verdict, essentially asking the client to involve herself in a media planning decision that's below her paygrade and beneath her agenda. A client - or even someone at a very senior level at an agency - doesn't care whether one media or tech vendor ends up on a media plan or not. By trying to get them involved in this tussle, you bring them a brand new problem instead of solving an existing one.
So why would a client see you today? And why is today different than days past? Three words sum it up: Data...Creativity....Authenticity.
Data is so pervasive that it can seem like a commodity. But real, valuable, first-party data - and the ability to put it to work for the marketer - are in short supply. Marketers are viewing data through a very sophisticated lens: It's bigger than advertising, bleeding over into CRM, retailer relationships, localization and more. The marketer will have a smart, future oriented conversation about data with you.
Creativity, also, is scarcer than you think. Sure there are modern day Don Drapers and Peggy Olsons toiling at work stations in agencies. But many of our companies are creating brand new palettes that agency creatives barely recognize. And 'creativity' in digital media today has as much to do with anthropology as it does with art. Media companies are simply closer to the behavior of the consumer than either the brand or its agency.
Authenticity is probably the one quality marketers crave above any other. Authenticity is what helps break through the veil of indifference and inattention and makes a brand or product genuinely matter to a consumer. The web is "an embarrassment of niches," where consumers feel passionate and connected. I don't care if you call it content marketing, native, enhanced sponsorship or something else; the challenge is to bring their brand and your user experience together in a way to confers authenticity.
Digital has freed the captive genie from a bottle called "advertising." Those willing to similarly free their imaginations and agendas from the same bottle will find a willing and open conversation with the marketer. Just don't try to fake it.