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Your Number One Competitor is the Status Quo

Posted on  6 October 10  by 

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“Oh please,” I’m sure many of you are thinking as you read the headline.  “We’re in dogfights every day with two or three competitors who seem to cave on price and depress margins.”   You’re absolutely right.   Today’s sales environment has never been more competitive and the power in the decision seems to rest firmly with the buyer.  So why on earth would the real enemy be the status quo?

Across industries and sectors, there is a disturbing trend at work, undermining all our best marketing efforts to get prospects to choose us.  As Tim Riesterer, CMO and SVP, Strategic Consulting, Corporate Visions Inc. explained at the Distinctive Purchase Experience Summit, buyers are choosing to not make a choice anywhere from 20% to 60% of the time.  For many of us, this means we’re losing more battles to the status quo than we are to any one of our competitors.  But our marketing efforts don’t reflect that reality.  We continue to focus on what makes us different from the other guys rather than building a story around why the status quo is the enemy.

As Tim explained, marketers spend more time focused on selling the gain, not mitigating the pain.  Well folks, when competing with the status quo, messages can’t be all unicorns and rainbows.  The best-in-class marketers understand the challenge is teaching your customer that they need to take a risk to avoid the pain their facing in their current reality.

If you’re doubting the logic, try this game (and thanks Tim for offering this up):  If you had a choice between getting $75,000 or having an 80% chance of getting $100,000 but a 20% of getting $0, which would you take.  9 out of ten of us would take the sure thing.  We avoid the risk even though there’s a better payout if we take on some risk.  Now, what would you choose if you had the option of losing $75,000 or having an 80% chance of losing $100,000 but a 20% chance of losing $0.  In this case, the vast majority of people choose to take the risk to try and avoid the pain.

So marketers, as you work to develop the messages that will carry your organization to success in 2011, remember that your bigger tasks are to provide:

1)      context to your prospects and customers that teaches them something they don’t know about a problem they didn’t know they had,

2)      contrast between what would happen if they did nothing and why you are uniquely positioned to solve their challenge, and

3) defensible proof points that yield confidence that the risk of doing nothing is higher than the “risk” of trying something new and different.

MLC members, check out our latest research on Insight Marketing to learn how Cisco, Volvo, and others cracked the code.

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