By Anthony Iannarino
Marketers have always been responsible for helping attract and win customers—often having to do so by displacing a competitor. This is a difficult task under the best of circumstances. Today, with almost every company defending against competition, and every industry growing increasingly crowded, marketing is more challenging than ever—especially at banks.
But if there is one way in which marketers make their own jobs harder, and reduce their chances of winning new business—especially business that presently belongs to their competitors—it is that they market at too low of a level. Let me explain.
There are four levels of value a salesperson or sales organizations can create. The levels provide you with a simple shorthand for understanding how you are perceived—and how to create a compelling reason to change. Let’s take a quick look at all four levels.
The first level, Level 1, is the value found in your product or service.
As a marketer, you know this as “sell sheets,” “features and benefits,” and all things that differentiate your product from your competitors’. It’s also likely you know that, while creating an awareness, it doesn’t do much to create a compelling reason to change.
The second level, Level 2, is the value you provide in the experience of working with your company.
Maybe you are easy to do business with, have excellent support and service, and are attentive to your customer’s needs. The challenge with Level 2 is the fact that so many banks have good support and service, and your value in this domain may need to be seen and felt to be believed.
The third level of value, Level 3, is the result your product or service produces.
Let’s imagine you run a marketing consulting service (not too much of a stretch here). You can provide me with a list of all your prominent clients and the marketing goals you achieved for them. But in today’s crowded context, your competitors all have similar lists of prominent clients, with similarly impressive results to boast of. The result you produce is difficult to differentiate from the crowded market where you compete.
Level 4 is the highest level of value.
This is where you can find the ability to differentiate and capture mindshare: by marketing to the way the clients view their challenges, their needs, and the right partner. To market at this level, you have to provide strategic advice—by teaching your clients how to go about getting the outcome they really want. Capturing mindshare starts with explaining your prospective customers’ world to them.
Here are the kinds of questions you should be answering for your prospective clients to provide Level 4 value:
- What has changed over the last twenty-four months that should be compelling your customer to do something different from what he or she is doing now?
- What is likely to change over the next eighteen to twenty-four months that will cause them greater problems if they don’t start changing now?
- What is the real, compelling reason your prospective customer should change what they are doing, how they are doing it, and potentially, who they are doing business with in this area?
Since bank products and services are commoditized, bank marketing is less about the logo and sell sheets and more about compelling change—especially now that markets are global, and the internet is disintermediating businesses and industries.
Here is a little test to see how well your marketing matches the Level 4 outcomes. Sort all your marketing material by the level of value it creates, using “compels change” as the measurement for Level 4. My guess is that the largest stack is Level 1, the legacy of effective marketing over the past decades. The Level 2 stack will be quite a bit smaller, maybe less than half. Level 3 will be quite small, maybe a few case studies or white papers. The Level 4 content will be too small, but not to worry. You have the ideas and insights inside your four walls. Now you have to deploy them create the marketing content that meets the needs of the new economy and compels your clients to change.
Anthony Iannarino is an international keynote speaker and workshop facilitator, sales leader, and sales coach. He blogs daily at The Sales Blog, teaches part time at Capital University’s Capital School of Management and Leadership. His latest book, Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away From Your Competition (Portfolio, 2018), is now available in bookstores across the country. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.