When I speak with sales or marketing executives on the topic of demand generation, I often give a piece of advice that violates virtually everything they've ever learned about successful sales and marketing. The advice is simple:
Needless to say, immediately upon hearing that advice a look of confusion, disbelief or anger appears on the faces of the attendees. After all, all we hear from marketing gurus is about the importance of differentiation. So if you're not going to differentiate, what should you do? That advice is also quite simple:
I've seen it time and time again. Businesses work so hard to seperate themselves and differentiate that they begin sounding like a Dilbert cartoon. What's even more interesting is that, from my experience at least, the companies that are actually different don't need to spend a lot of time trying to differentiate; and the companies that aren't, are the ones working so hard to do it.
Of course one of the main examples I share when talking about this concept is Apple. They really don't have to work very hard to differentiate themselves, because immediately upon touching (or seeing) one of the famous devices you get it...they're different. Last week, I saw a video making the rounds from Steve Jobs. It takes place shortly after he returned and he's sharing the "Think Different" campaign with his team. In the video below, you'll see him nail the formula to successful marketing and demand generation (the topic of marketing starts at 3:09 of the video).
What was true in 1997 is even more true today.
"Marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world, a very noisy world. And, we're not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. And so we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us...even the best brand needs investment and caring if it's going to retain its vitality."
In addressing how to bring the Apple brand back, he goes on to say, "The way to do that is not to talk about speeds and feeds. It's not to talk about mps and mghtz. It's not to talk about why we're better than Windows."
That is what messaging is all about, and the likelihood is that you haven't spent enough time working on yours. Stop talking about your features, your proprietary algorithms, years of experience and whatever else you think makes you better. Instead, let people understand what you stand for, the problems that you solve and what you care about. This is the essence of the advice that people don't buy what you do...they buy why you do it.
Watch the video again and then ask yourself how you're stacking up against Jobs' criteria.
By the way, if you're interested in business principles or what else made Jobs such a genius, listen to the part of the video I skipped. You'll hear just how Jobs went about creating greater focus on the product line and how he realized the key ingrediants to taking a company from the brink of bankruptcy to, literally, the most valuable company in the world.