I want you to imagine that you have just ingested some poison. After the initial shock of realizing the impending doom, you hear the doorbell ring. At that very moment, an antidote salesman is standing at the door and says, “I have what you need. I can give you the recipe for free or you can buy the vile for $1,000,000.” What would you do? What could you do?
There are so many variables. Do you have a million dollars? How long would it take to make the antidote? Would you have or could you find the ingredients? Could you afford those? Was it really poison?
In the movie version, a fight ensues, and the vile rolls around on the ground and is swatted in the air. Then, it's caught and taken in the nick of time. The hero wins and the villain is vanquished.
What has me puzzled is why was the antidote salesman knocking at the door. How many doors did he go to before he found someone that had just ingested the right poison for his antidote? Why did it cost $1,000,000 and how was he expecting to get paid?
Business is Simple
Business is based on the exchange of money. Someone has a problem and someone has a solution. Ultimately, the problem has to be bad enough that it can't be solved by the person or company that has the problem. They have to find an outside solution and have enough money to afford that solution.
The solution has to be affordable to the point that it's cheaper for the business to pay for it than build an in-house source. The solution has to work, and in most cases, return more value than the money exchanged for it. In some cases, it can be a repeat sale, while in others it's a one-and-done.
When it comes to paying for it, can the business afford to buy? Was this budgeted for ahead of time, or do new resources need to be allocated? Do they have enough credit to finance it? Or will they do everything in their power to avoid having to spend that money?
Antidote in Search of a Poison
Have you ever been to a networking event and asked someone what they do? Their elevator pitch is often designed to get your attention and make you ask more questions. But often you hear someone explain that they solve a problem that businesses don't even realize they have.
It could be a woman who says, “I help companies save money on their telecommunications,” or a guy who says, “I help you become healthier to enjoy life.” It's like an antidote in search of poison.
Sure, you may meet enough people or knock on enough doors to eventually find a person willing to have a meeting or maybe even buy, but it's more like a solution in search of a problem.
Many will turn to social media and online marketing to try to gain attention. There are two key considerations here. In the old days, you bought an ad in a newspaper. You hoped that people would turn to your page with the ad and take action on it. At least there, you know your ad was delivered to every newspaper reader, and there was a chance to see it. Secondly, online is either trying to do it organically (let the platform serve it up) or paying for it to be seen (ads). Buying ads is in your control, but who sees it is not. Then on some platforms, you are bidding for eyes, and the deeper your pockets the better the eyes (who see it first)!
Poison In Search Of An Antidote
Just getting people to your website is a real challenge. The hope is that you can collect names and send them emails. Businesses look at emails as ALMOST FREE ads. Have you ever gotten an unsolicited email telling you you have problems with your website? It may sound something like this…
“Hi, I would let you know I noticed a couple of technical errors on your website. I have one of the digital marketers preparing a quick report for you which lists the errors. I thought you may find it interesting and probably a core reason why your online visibility is not increasing. Can I send the report to you or is there someone else I should send it to?”
Their English has more problems than my website. Yet I ponder, “What errors? What's a digital marketer going to do (usually a tech person fixes errors)? What's online visibility (I think he means 1st page)? Why send it to me if I am not the RIGHT person?”
Going down the rabbit hole of answering those questions is like describing poison symptoms so people buy some antidote. All too often that's what happens. People question if they are missing something that could increase sales.
Final Thoughts – A Which's Brew?
We all have a perfect avatar or ideal client that we want to attract. We have a solution and we search for those who have a problem, or we try to advertise the problem to draw attention to our solution. I realize that both are important, but I have found in a mix of both can be successful.
Drug companies try to capture people who have been diagnosed with eczema or arthritis and say our drug is better. Ultimately, it's the doctor who has the say to prescribe something. So they have to educate the doctor (dishing out the antidote) and the patient (the one with the poison) and get them on the same page.
There is a difference between consumer and business-to-business marketing. In the consumer world, you can sell the symptoms and the consumer will buy an over-the-counter remedy. If it works (or they think it does) they may buy it again. In B2b marketing, the goal should be to get the patient to talk with a doctor (your sales team) who can diagnose and prescribe a treatment. If there is no cure needed, you have won trust and that goes a long way in building referrals and future sales.
“One man's poison ivy is another man's spinach”
– George Ade
Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about how your business can be an antidote to a business poison (without promoting the poison first).
To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast