The Unified Field Theory Of Marketing Is Almost Complete

I'm down at SXSW, and for the pre-party, I mean, pre-conference, I met with two gigantic brains and just talked about the industry. 

And it happened again - the insights that apply to one field ultimately boil down to the same solution for an old problem. Content is dead. Not because Content isn't important - but because we use it wrong. We're not willing to take a chance and personalize our content, which means that we design/create awesome and not so awesome stuff that really only titillates marketers. 

What's the Unified Theory? Russ Somers of SonarDesign got it immediately (and since I mentioned his name, be smart and go sign up for the beta of Mako. It's an product built to allow designers who code in Flash to build modern content. If you love video, presentations, and are looking for a better personalized content experience, keep an eye out for this product). He even cited the Dunbar number, which is a key part of what I'm hearing. 

The TL:DR version? We need to shrink our view of our markets and increase our win percentage. We need to look at the total value of what we're trying to accomplish instead of the front-end of the funnel. We need to teach our execs that 6 of 6 is better than 6 out of 1000. 


When you sell your company, everyone focuses on the multiples. What you should focus on is the price.

When you're an enterprise sales executive, you don't care about the number of leads. Keeping the end goal in sight (6 sales) allows you to stop wasting time on the front end of the funnel, and digging deeper into opportunities. 

If you're an internal recruiter, you need your bosses to recognize that 6 hires of key individuals is as important as 100 hires of open reqs. 

If you're a mobile app developer, getting 600 downloads of the right people who use your app daily can be better than 10,000 downloads of people who never use your app. 

The confluence of multiple industries towards hyper-personal marketing is a big deal. I expect it to be the most important trend in digital marketing in 2015. 



The Future Past Of Social, And A Prediction

Jeremiah Owyang recently re-posted a look back at a report he did with Forrester in 2009, predicting, or rather forecasting the social changes from 2009-2014. It was an excellent prediction, notable because of how tight the time frames are for changes in social technology and adoption. 

He's since moved on to the Collaborative Economy and his own firm, but reading his Facebook post today made me think about two things. One, if you can understand this graph, and explain/argue it's accuracy, you're probably a social expert. Yeah, I said it. 

But second, is the question of what comes next, and I have a small prediction. But first, let me swerve a little bit and give you background. 

You sell a product. It's successful, and you get it into retail. What comes next? You use the brand and add more product. First, you add more flavors, or more colors, or a low calorie version. You Want to take up shelf space, so that people walking by see your brand sticking out. It's basic retail marketing, but it works elsewhere. 

Think of P90X, the popular workout DVD's that everyone bought and then set on a shelf to collect dust. P90X was followed up by Insanity, and the company now has other products including Shakeology, to capture the full attention of their user base. The product has a brand, but the company now monetizes their attention.  

Bulletproof Coffee is another example.  Dave Asprey took the idea of butter in tea, added it to coffee, and started selling it, along with MCT Oil. Then he added chocolate. And cinnamon. And more oil. Then more products, all based on the idea that someone who drinks buttered coffee for health wants other "body hacks." 

Game companies do the same. Candy Crush becomes Candy Crush Saga becomes a dozen old games launched by King, as Candy Crush players get introduced to new games by the simple introduction of a giant King screen and a 'We have a new game" ad inside the game. It's certainly easier than paying to attract new attention.

So back to my prediction, and what it has to do with the graph. Jeremiah's tight prediction of social changes has helped guide investors in the "next big thing." Cheap money, ubiquitous cellphone use, and the rising to maturity of the Millennial generation have all contributed, but what comes next? The market is eagerly waiting for more automation, more drones, more robots, and the eventual rise of AI. 

But...I think Beachbody and UpgradedSelf and Luminosity have something to teach us that's not about technology. And I think it's the next big thing. 

Body hacks + Productivity Hacks + Retail Store Branding. 

Someone is going to figure out that the key branding strategy is human improvement. They're going to identify small needs and roll them into an umbrella of products that save you time, make you look better, improve your health, and seamlessly fit into your life. 

The new generation of phones won't just be fun and useful devices. They'll interact with everything around you, and to a larger extent than we know, will track, monitor and sense what's going on. They'll monitor you, and be able to make suggestions on what you need. Some examples:

1) Your posture at the desk is bad. Your phone reminds you stretch and automatically runs you through a 3 minute stretch. 
2) It's cold, and your fidgeting shows that you need a sweater. The phone connects to your Nest Thermostat and changes the temperature a few degrees. 
3) The phone registers you've been up 18 hours, and have been at the office 14 of those hours for three days. It automatically orders green shakes to help boost your system, and then sets a gym time and alert. A notification appears, and you just have to say yes or no. 
4) You're on a dating app, and the phone measures the quality of your voice and that of the girl you talk to, determining if there is real interest. Later models actually tell if you're falling in love. 
5) Your phone listens to you as you talk, keeping a record of who makes you happier, and what you do after speaking. The people who make you happiest, most productive, and healthier get added to suggestions.

And behind all of this, a human productivity company is in charge of the billing, shipping, and product placement. In capturing more of your business, they can keep prices low and lock you down as a customer. Think of it as private concierges who build massive models that work on subscription instead of by product. 

You wouldn't normally buy your airline tickets, restaurant reservations, health foods, dating sites, book purchases, and online doctor visits from the same company. Unless that company had improved marketing to capture 50% of your disposable spending.

That's my prediction. I say 4 years, before a fully functional and very well funded company is has this up and running. 



Case Studies Are Tools To Manage Risk

Way back in the 90's, my sales manager told me the truth about references and case studies. They're useless to real salespeople. Don't get mad when I say that, I'm just repeating what I've been told, but he had a great point. 

Case Studies are marketing documents. They aren't for salespeople. 

When a client asks you for references or case studies, they're not asking to check on our work. They're telling you they don't believe you, and they want some measure of proof that someone else was willing to vouch for you. 

Do you know why clients ask you that? It's because you're a bad salesperson. 

Now, that doesn't mean that there is never a time or place for case studies, or references, or tests. It just means that if a client is asking for those things, it's because they don't trust you. And if you want to gain their trust, you don't get it by letting them look at a case study. 

You have to ask them what you missed. Because this I can guarantee you - they don't ask everyone for case studies. 



The Additive Properties Of Marketing

Last week, I was in San Francisco watching people eat meat that was grown in a lab. But that's not what I'm writing about, it's just a footnote to the day. Flying out to California, I finished Singularity Rising, a book about the coming impact of Technology and AI and enhanced...well, you should really read it yourself. 

One of the main stories in the book revolves around the use of additive genes in intelligence. An additive gene theory suggests that genetic traits cannot always be boiled down to a single gene, but rather there are a series of combinations of genes that when put together, yield useful traits.  If there are 200 genes that can increase your intelligence, the combination would be more important than any single gene, and the addition of any one gene may increase your native intelligence, but only if it that's the correct combination. The same combination may give you autism, unless it's modified by another set of genes.

So we need to speak of genetic intelligence as additive to fully understand it, at the same time not trying to reduce it simply to the right listing of genes.  

Western Science for thousands of years has focused on the principle of reduction. We take complex systems and we say, "This caused that." We've learned to specialize in a way that generates great knowledge about the small things, but tends to leave us perplexed when those small things don't add up to larger outcomes.

That outlook is not just applicable to the academy.  It permeates everything we do, which is why marketers try to break down our campaigns into replicable parts.

For example. 

1) Obtain an email list.

2) Send emails. Test, Tweak and Track.

3) Use email list to generate incoming phone calls.

4) Track success of incoming calls by new sales.

In each step, we try to maximize the small things. Should we buy the list or build our own? Do pictures work better or does text? Should we optimize for mobile or should we focus on desktop?  Do the incoming calls close better if we put prices in the email? After we've sent the first batch, does the second batch of emails generate as many calls?

This is actually the scientific process at work.  Form a hypothesis. Test a hypothesis.  Replicate the test.  Prove your theory again and again.  

So what if the small things don't add up to a larger outcome? What if the second client's email campaign is not as successful as the first client's email campaign? What was done differently? Do we know?  Was it the economy? The salespeople? New technology? 

There's not always going to be an answer, which is why marketing is so hard. We know that we can generate some results, but we can't always replicate them, which suggests that luck can play a part. 

Perhaps the additive theory is what we need to better understand what we're doing. Perhaps it's not just the small things we do, but the combination that matters.  If that is case, and it certainly sounds reasonable, our approach to staff, vendor, and technology acquisition needs to focus on how the parts fit, instead of the composition of each part. 



How Do I Shorten An Enterprise Sales Cycle?

This was a question on Quora - and my answer for it. 


Get In Their Billing System
An old manager of mine once laid down the law. Business relationships don't start until someone signs a check. You don't have a client until they're paying you, and if you're selling large deals, that check is going to take longer to get signed.  

If you're working with a large enterprise, you need to figure out how they bill, and get them in the habit of working with you.  Nothing works better than setting up a monthly billing arrangement that gives them a taste of what you offer. This doesn't mean you discount your prices or sell them your best product. Once you discount a product or service, it's very hard to get it's price back up to par.  It does mean that you should have something that you can sell them that your contact has the budget to approve.  

There is a lot of value in this.  You're listed as a supplier for the company. You're getting a check, however small.  When it does come time to bill, your company is already in the system. The manager/executive has a comfort level of working with you. And they have a reason to speak with you other than you calling to ask if they are ready with that order yet.  

**if you're not comfortable selling a small piece to the executive that you're selling the big service to, consider finding another manager to sell a smaller service to.  You're still in the system. 

Stay In Front Of Them
If you've made the pitch, and are waiting on feedback, now is the time to kick in your PR/Social Strategy.  You've identified all the people who are needed to sign off.  Now go stalk them. Create a mini-calendar of content that addresses topics they would have an interest in, and get those out on Twitter, LinkedIn, emails, blogs, press releases, and videos.  You can't forward everything to the person, but that's not your goal. Your goal is for them to stumble upon you (no pun intended). If they see you three or four times a month on social or in trade magazines, they're more likely to feel comfortable with you, and more likely to take you from the Red Zone to the End Zone.  Show up at their events, and don't bug them.  Find ways to get your company in front of their company (small, sponsored events).  LinkedIn, Meetup, Eventbrite, Facebook - all of these hold clues for you to get your name and brand in front of your prospect.

That's the point of social.  You're telling them non-verbally, that you are someone they should know.

Make It Personal
One thing I learned as a salesperson is that my company isn't doing anything for the client.  No matter the product or service, my company isn't fixing theirs.  I'm selling my product to an individual, whose career I will help if it goes well.  When selling to enterprise clients, try to understand what that exec/manager needs to improve their career, and don't forget to sell that benefit to them.

If they can put something on a resume, improve their visibility to senior management, add money to their budget, or have a case study they can brag about, they are more likely to buy from you. If they are just going through the motions, they're not going to see the value for them. And that's when they start dragging their feet.