Articulate Your Business Case or Lose Customers To Competitors

We Are Out of The Hype Cycle: Digital and Social Applications Must Solve Business Issues: I know when I first started to learn about social media and digital applications, I could see how they could change business. It made sense to me. I think because I am an early adopter. I’m referring to Geoffrey Moore’s technology adoption curve. There’s the innovators, who create all this cool new software. And then there’s early adopters like me, that look at those innovator’s inventions and realize the impact they can make.

Having been in this business for a long time, one of the things that I realized was that not everyone can see the value of social and digital. It’s not an intuitive thing for them. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It just is what it is. And that’s why businesses (vendors) who are in the business of selling products and services really need to take a look at their product management and product sales teams. Are they organized to sell to those that “already” get the value? That’s like selling ice to eskimos. The people who get it, already bought your product.

MY POV: Where the rubber is now meeting the road is learning how to articulate the business value that digital and social applications, products and services provide. I am lucky to hear a lot of briefings on new things. However, what I am finding is that some companies need to really look at where the marketplace is in adoption of the new technology and perhaps shift some of their marketing messaging, but even more important to look at who are the persona(s) that they are developing products and services for? Are they for the early adopters? It’s a small part of the marketplace. Or is is for the early / late majority? That’s a much larger part of the marketplace.

Early Majority Want Your Help to Say Yes: And that part of that part of the marketplace (early majority) requires something different to convince them that they need this “new” product. They want to know what business challenges does it solve? They want to be shown how someone else had a “burning issue” and this product or service solved it and what the outcomes were.

If your sales pitch is not lined up that way, you maybe missing the market on the largest part of the marketplace. Don’t take it from me; reread  Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm— it’s all about changing how you market and sell as the marketplace matures. Those who do, will find prosperity and those that don’t, won’t.

Digital Disruption Transformation ChasmWhat Do You Need To Do Now? The key is to be able to articulate the business value. What is the business issue that your product or service solves? To know that, a business has to be really clear on who they are selling to. That means they need to define various personas and know what those personas face as daily challenges. They need to map out the-day-in-the-life of that professional. And they need to do this by going and talking to 10 or 20 or 100 of them. Don’t assume anything. Then align the challenges those professionals face with the solution you offer and can show an early majority person how your new “product or service” can solve their issue better than anyone else.

References, References, References: And having customer references is key, especially early majority customer references. Why? Because early majority folks convince other early majority people to take a chance at these new technology, processes and services. They believe each other more than they believe the vendor or even sometimes an analyst.

Watch Your Language: There’s lot’s of languaging issues in the current marketing of software and products / services. Almost everyone can claim to be influencing some aspect of customer experience. And by not articulating the business case of how that product or service clearly affects the bottomline, the buyer is confused and that slows the sales cycle down.

Understand Buying Signals: Your potential customers probably won’t say anything; they might say things like, “Hmmm looks interesting. Call me in a few months.” or “Send me a brochure.” NOTE TO SELF: Those are NOT buying signals. They are polite ways of saying, “I don’t have time for this; I don’t see how this applies to why my hair is on fire; I am not sure how I would apply this to what is happening in my department or company and I certainly have no idea how I am going to explain this in a business case to get my boss to say yes.

Do The Work: Don’t make your customer do the hard work. Create those business use cases. Create scenarios that the early majority can see themselves in. Articulate, even if it’s a back of the envelope calculation, the return on their investment. If you do this, it will make all the difference in your sales cycles, in your revenue and profits and your market position. If you don’t, someone else will.

Time to relook at where the marketplace is in the maturity of the digital disruption and stop all the fanatical “speak” and get down to business. At least that’s my take. What’s yours?

@DrNatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

 

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Webinar: How to Make the Business Case for Social Media Initiatives Nov 15th

Social media has become part of most businesses marketing mix, PR initiatives as well as customer service and product innovation process. Most companies started out with a small initiative and now they want to expand that endeavor. However many businesses thought social media was going to be “free.” They thought it would just require time on the behalf of one or two employees- maybe not even full time.

The truth about getting business results from social media is that it requires software to scale as well as to go beyond the typical posting on Facebook by many brands —  “Happy Monday!” Brands doing that are wondering where the return on investment is. Have a presence on social networks is the first step in many to see a financial gain the investment in social media. The key to success is understanding what social media software and applications are necessary to reach your business goal. And the second part is to create a business case to convince those that are not already bought into the value social media provides. Looking at the technology adoption curve by Rogers and later adapted by Geoffrey Moore, the innovators and early adopters have bought in.

The Social Media Adoption Chasm – Don’t Fall Into The Gap Because You Are Unsure How to Convince The Early Majority of the Business Case For Social Media

However, the early majority are the ones that need to be convinced that there is business value in social media. They are very pragmatic and don’t like taking risks. They want to know that what they are going to do will result in solid business results. The job of the innovators and early adopters becomes the ability to create a business case that is compelling enough for them to say yes to much larger people, process and technology investments.

2.7 zetabytes of data exists in the digital universe today. Predictions estimate that 35 zetabytes of data will be generated annually by 2020. IDC estimates that by 2020, business transactions on the Internet- business-to-business and business-to-consumer will reach 450 billion per day. Facebook alone stores, accesses, and analyzes 30+ petabytes of user generated data.

How do you make sense of it all? Clearly, the rate at which businesses are able to quickly analyze, accurately interpret, take action and pivot on the myriad of consumer interactions coming through channels such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums, newsfeeds, mobile… will be determining factors for future business success. With competition and the influx of interactions growing daily, some departments still struggle with their social media strategy and how to build a business case for the support and funding of a social media analysis initiative.

Join Social Media ROI Strategist Dr. Natalie Petouhoff and Crimson Hexagon‘s Vice President of Marketing Wayne St. Amand for an exclusive webinar. Learn how to make a business case for social media analysis that will improve your chances for social media budget funding and expand your business results

In this webinar, we will discuss:

  • How to use a 4-step process to build a business case for a social media analysis initiative
  • How to distill a business case into one simple sentence
  • How to quantify social media benefits and the five benefit categories
  • Case studies on how leading companies are using deep insights in social media analysis to execute meaningful actions that prove the associated business case

Space is limited. Reserve your webinar seat today.


Learn. Share. Grow!
@DrNatalie L. Petouhoff

For more info on my work:
Ebook
:Social Media ROI

Social Media ROI YouTube Videos:
Video 1: Building the Business Case for Social Media
Video 2: How to Measure the ROI of Social Media

Video 3: How Social Media Benefits the Whole Company

Book on Monetizing Facebook: Like My Stuff: How To Monetize Your Facebook Fans

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@drnatalie
LinkedIn: DrNataliePetouhoff
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