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Closing The Gap

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One of the biggest mistakes organizations and individuals make when growing their business is to assume they know how people see them.  They miss out on all the juicy, surprising, and incredibly helpful information their audience has to offer.  They miss out on an opportunity to close “the gap”.

“The Gap” is the difference between how you view your business versus how your target audience sees and experiences it out in the marketplace.  Often times, there’s a significant discrepancy on multiple levels.  Effective marketing rarely misses out on this opportunity.

Consider the case of a company that approached Nicole and I for marketing help.  They provided a service for professionals using technology, and they were looking to increase their membership significantly (I’m being purposely vague here in order to protect their identity).  At present, their marketing efforts weren’t producing any new growth, and they were looking to us for assistance designing and delivering marketing materials that would help create a spark.

After our initial meeting we took a closer look at their business and found they were spending most of their time, money, and marketing on expanding the technology features for their users.  They made the assumption that their future clients desired a service that had more “bells & whistles”.  This was how they chose to differentiate themselves.  At first glance, it seemed like a solid marketing strategy until we realized they had never asked their current and future clients about this strategy.

As we began to build our proposal, we spoke with potential clients about what they were looking for from this company and this kind of service.  What we found was a far cry from how the company was currently positioned.  We heard virtually nothing about a desire for more technology features.  Those few we polled simply wanted to know that using the companies service would bring about new business.  They could care less about features and instead wanted more value.  As a result, the audiences perception of the company was lukewarm at best, and many viewed their service offerings with suspicion and apathy.

Our initial findings prompted us to recommend that, first and foremost, they needed to spend time analyzing their market to see if our initial findings were valid.  They needed to perform this step before they began designing a new marketing campaign.  We recommended they speak with key stakeholders, survey existing clients, interview potential clients, and look closely at their competitors.  The insights gathered from these efforts would drive the marketing process forward.

One of the great things about uncovering a gap is that it presents an incredible opportunity.  It gives you information you need to revise and develop a more compelling service line, it offers valuable feedback about your customer service experience so you can improve upon it, and it helps you refocus your marketing efforts so you’re speaking to your client base with vision and power.

For this potential client, if our findings were proven true, a key marketing strategy would be to move away from “feature driven” marketing to a more “value driven” model that would be much more compelling to the audience they were trying to reach.  It would positively impact all aspects of their business from the services they offer to the marketing messaging they delivered.  For example, instead of marketing features, they’d be better served using testimonials as proof of their value.  Instead of spending money developing new technology, they should design an aggressive marketing campaign with a powerful promise and an astonishing offer that supported the confidence they had in their services ability to get their clients new business.  On and on it could go.

But alas, it was not to be as they chose to stand pat. It’s not easy to choose to take this step.  It’s essential, but not easy.

– David

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Discussion

  1. Dan Franz  May 29, 2012

    Great story David – and such an important one to realize and recognize!! So often we may think we are perceived one way, when, in fact, it may be completely different. Such a valuable resource you provide!

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