With the ABM Conference 2020 fast approaching, David Rowlands caught up with speaker Tim Riesterer, chief strategy officer, Corporate Visions, to discuss the importance of differentiating your marketing messaging, and his upcoming session: ‘The psychology of customer content: Matching your message to the moment in the deciding journey.’
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Hi Tim. Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you first became interested in the ‘psychology of customer content.’
I studied journalism in college and was hired out of school to ride along with salespeople and write customer case studies. It was powerful getting to engage directly with end user customers and hear how they thought about their purchase decisions and experiences. Add to that, I got the opportunity to watch and listen to sales-customer interactions. These things fuelled my passion for the psychology of decision-making, customer conversations and related content.
In your session synopsis, it says: “Most marketing leaders see no need to differentiate their messaging approach between customer acquisition and customer expansion.” How, and to what extent, should marketers differentiate these approaches?
That’s literally the essence of our latest book – The Expansion Sale. We studied four different existing customer moments: renewals; price increases; upsells; and apologies. From those studies, we were able to identify the specific messaging framework to maximise impact and positive outcomes. At the heart of it all is the science of ‘status quo bias.’ When you acquire new business, you need to defeat status quo bias. When you expand existing customers, you need to reinforce and increase status quo bias – because you ARE the status quo bias.
How has the pandemic affected these messaging approaches? For instance, are more aggressive tactics out of the window for now?
I know there are a lot of opinions people have about a certain touch or nuance. I’ve yet to see data support that. When we look at decision science, we know people prefer status quo bias, which includes keeping current preferences stable. The desire for stability increases in difficult situations, and when the outside world seems uncertain, they resort to their last known safe position – their current status quo. Yet, we also know that people need to feel uncertain about their current status quo to want to change and do it with urgency. So, if you need people to reconsider their current state and choose you as an alternative, you still have to do what the behavioural science says is required.
What pitfalls should marketers look out for when trying to differentiate their customer acquisition messaging and customer expansion messaging?
Too many personas and too much personalisation. These are over-hyped areas without a lot of data to prove they are worth the initial effort, let alone sustainable. In fact, there are studies that show the opposite. Such as over-tailoring to too many personas, results in a lower quality deal. And, people tend to trust information that is one expert to many versus singularly, hyper-personalised to them. The most powerful predictor of someone’s behaviour is their context. Starting with two personas – a prospect that needs to be disrupted; a customer that needs to be reinforced and expanded will increase your impact and make your messaging more manageable.
To date, you’ve written four books on improving the messages that marketing creates for the field, and the conversations salespeople have with prospects and customers. Do you have any more books in the works? What specific aspects of marketing messaging do you feel need greater research and analysis?
We are conducting research in several areas that will be interesting and book worthy. First, is to look at passive content versus interactive content and whether one creates more memory, emotion and motivation than the other. This will be big as you look at marketing content being used deeper in the decision journey. We are also looking at the impact of cliché versus unexpected images in content. And, we are running experiments on the power of animation and annotation versus static content in presentations. And there’s more on our research roadmap that we think will transform the way people look at content marketing.
Finally, what advice do you have for marketers looking to refine their marketing messaging over the next 12 months?
Figuring out which content assets and what timing for those content assets you apply to the customer journey and how that interacts with the sales and/or customer success conversations is the big move. Establishing one voice across the buying journey and exploiting the right digital, virtual, self-service experiences, along with traditional sales and customer success-led conversations.
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