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On Becoming a Marketing Weenie

By John Quarto-vonTivadar
CTO, Future Now, Inc.

Despite a technology background, I had the dubious honor last week of being called a “marketing weenie” by a young programmer. The kid’s diatribe was delivered as a 21st century version of “your Momma wears combat boots,” yet the comment illustrated a fascinating point: “techno-nerds” (so there!) have virtually no understanding of key marketing and sales concepts, and this lack of knowledge helps perpetuate the vast chasm of misunderstanding between the “geeks” and “suits.”

Multidisciplinary cross-training is an essential skill in prospering in the upcoming Internet Age, Version Two. People who succeed will be those who can appreciate all the pieces that connect to profitability and who can provide complementary solutions within team efforts. I’d like to touch on a few fundamental points technology-driven people need to understand from their sales and marketing counterparts. If you’re a tech person, read on! The basic ideas are simple; yet mastering them will open amazing doors for you in networking with actual decision-makers (and check-writers), both key to career advancement. If you’re on the business side of the coin, read on! You’ll have a better idea of what the guy with the pocket protector “just doesn’t get.”

Marketing Drives Traffic, Sales Drives Income

It may seem obvious to the general public, but rarely do techies make the connection between the MarCom & Sales Department and his salary. Who can fault them? Technology budgets, like all support budgets, are always sinks of money, and certainly the feeding frenzy of the Internet Age, Version One - with its mantra "if you build it, they will come” - gave techies the false impression that they themselves are the creator of corporate profits.

Let’s get it straight: Marketing drives visitors to your company, Sales converts them into customers. Marketing discovers the gold mine, Sales actually digs out the gold. Technology is a support function that helps discover and helps dig. Sometimes the most obvious things are the ones most easily forgotten. But don’t you forget!

One group always remembers where the money comes from: CEOs and business owners. So the key to influencing them is to understand the factors in their decision process. The people who sign checks care about sales, and so must you.

Getting People to Take Action

It might surprise some technology people to learn that there’s a distinct process involved when people take action. This can be summarized by the acronym “AIDAS”. The Attention of the person is tickled, their Interest is piqued, a Desire is stimulated in their mind, and then an Action is taken - and afterwards the person evaluates their Satisfaction with the process. The key here is understanding that the first three steps are emotional ones (attention, interest, desire) which are only then confirmed by the logical left-brain (action). The final step (satisfaction) is then a reconfirmation by a hybrid emotional-logical response.

Did you know that buyers go through a distinct process when they buy? I present it here in terms technology people can appreciate:

  • Problem Recognition
  • Information Search
  • Evaluation of Alternatives
  • Purchase Decision
  • Purchase Completion
  • Was the Problem Solved?
  • Sellers, however, follow a different process:

  • Prospect for Needs/Desires
  • Establish Rapport
  • Qualify the Needs/Desires
  • Present to the qualified Needs/Desires
  • Close on satisfying the Needs/Desires
  • Being aware of what is going on in people’s heads and understanding the processes that go on in the Marketing and Sales world, delivers a tremendous clarity of purpose that you can use to apply technology to support these functions. The key to converting visitors into buyers is to win their emotional hearts. A repeat buyer is created only when that buyer’s need is met in a legitimately honest way. Both of these are strong sub-conscious, emotional, right-brain decisions.

    Features Win the Mind, Benefits Win the Heart

    Techies put a lot of stock in following logical processes and logical reasoning; both are left-brained functions of the human mind. This leads many companies, but especially a technology company, to misinterpret “features” to be the same as “benefits.” They’re not. The company is so familiar with its own product that it feels listing the Features is sufficient to imply the Benefits.

    The buying audience, even a technologically driven one, is still a human audience, and people want to know the benefits first because this answers the question, “Whats in it for me?” Only then, when the right-brain “feels” good about the product benefits, is the buyer receptive to logical reasons for that decision. Confirming a decision already made on the emotional right-side side of the brain by appealing to the logical higher-brain reasoning of the left brain, answers the question “How is it good for me?” And that’s a Feature List.

    Techies, the next time one of those opaque “initiatives” from MarCom hits your desk, try digging a bit - look for an underlying process and things will be much clearer. If you can’t find one, get one of those “Marketing Weenies” to explain it to you as a process. Remind him that Techies “have no problem ‘getting’ the Forest, you just gotta show them the Trees first.” And if all else fails, slip "The Suit" a copy of the article above!


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    GROK is taken from the landmark novel "Stranger in a Strange Land", by Robert A. Heinlein. It is a Martian word that implies the presence of intimate and exhaustive knowledges-serif" and understanding. Our "GROK" is a keen observer of the world around him and he takes a particular interest in the World Wide Web. The folks at Future Now like him a lot because he's taught them that "sometimes the price of clarity is the risk of insult."

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