SRTATX – The best digital marketing strategy methodology for EVERY company and any industry
STRATX can be described as a process that understands the change in the economy that we're experiencing and leveraging of digital tactics that help us get in front of actual buyers when it's most important.
In the traditional buying process, the purpose of marketing has been to build Exposure and Motivation for our products and services. Salespeople would then follow up on marketing leads with hundreds of cold calls blindly searching for POTENTIAL BUYERS that might be willing to hear our story.
The New Economy
In recent years we have been moving into the “New Economy” buying process where more and more motivated buyers are already online and actively looking for products and solutions.
The marketing challenge has moved from mainly cold calls and building motivation, to the process we use to Find Motivated Buyers. Motivated buyers allow our sales teams to Present, Propose and Close much more efficiently, thereby generating more revenue.
The concept of building exposure and “pushing it out to the World Willy Loman Style was basically, a numbers game. Make cold calls and run broad based indiscriminate advertising messages to create exposure. We started from the viewpoint of the company rather than the customer. we would make something, and then try to convince people to buy it.
This is an expensive and time-consuming process.
The STRAT X process looks at it from the customer’s viewpoint. Buyers go through a four-step process:
This purchasing process is the same whether I am buying a million-dollar machine or a snack at a convenience store. It may vary in complexity and length of time, but it runs the same course. The motivation step may come from a complex production problem that has arisen in our company or it may be a simple hunger in a convenience store.
The investigation step for an expensive machine may run over weeks or months, whereas a search for a snack may be as simple as scanning a shelf in a convenience store. For the machine, the evaluation step may be complex, with a number of interrelated factors like price, durability and maintenance costs, whereas evaluating the best snack may be as simple as “chocolate.” Finally, we arrive at selection: I’ll take this machine and that candy bar. Traditional marketing starts with creating motivation but If we can find people in the investigation stage, then we don’t have to worry about motivation anymore. We just intercept them with our marketing collateral before they get to evaluation and selection.
STRATX is about - Finding a Buyer who is already Motivated and searching for the products that you build and sell, before they get to the evaluation and selection stage.
I want or need something.
What are my choices.
Which one is best?
I'll take this one.
The Power of Seeing Change in Business
A key principle of STRATX is that it is more difficult to make sales in stable environments. In stable environments, the thinking goes that “The equipment (or software) is working, we know the guy, we like them, and the company is responsive to our requests. If I propose that we change that situation, then I have to convince my boss to leave something that is working for something that is unknown. I have to get budget approval and if it fails it is a career risk for me.” Sales in a stable environment is hard. When something changes in the company or its environment, motivation is often created.
Maybe the company is going through a merger/acquisition, or a new CEO was hired. Maybe there was a product failure and lawsuit or some regulatory problem. Maybe the company invented a new product, received new investment, or is moving to a new physical space.
We track over 25 categories of change, but the point is that when you see change happening, there is a good probability motivation has been created. Thus, step one in the purchase decision has already occurred and the potential customer is in the second step: investigation. The sales window has opened. The point is this. Even though we can develop a profile of who we are looking for and create a universal list of all the companies in that profile, most of those companies are not in the market. Your salespeople can make motivational pitches, but they will be low probability sales calls.
At any given time, only a few companies have motivation to buy, and the STRATX process helps you to find them in order to improve the probability of a sales call. To summarize, if motivation is the first step in buying something, and motivation is created by change, then being able to spot change gets us inside the sales window and dramatically increases the probability of making a sale.
Combining these two ideas, purchase decisions start with motivation, and motivation is caused by some change –
STRATX then looks for change in two areas: markets and companies. Markets in which change is occurring are considered ripe markets.
Ripe markets are typically unconsolidated, emerging, growing, or disrupted. No one company dominates yet. Everyone has gone back to ground zero, each vying to be the best solution. Markets which are not ripe for new competition are mature, consolidated, commoditized and have market shares sorted out. Usually there are three or four major competitors who control 80% or more of the market (giants in the land). They dominate advertising and marketing channels, distribution channels and relationships. They also have well developed and efficient processes that drive down costs and prices. A mature, consolidated market influences the core strategy of new competitors by forcing them into commodity quadrant, where the rules for success are low price and high volume.
Small companies trying to compete in these markets are like Little League teams walking into Yankee Stadium for a game. Unless they have some technology or process that can enter and disrupt from the bottom end, they are not likely to grow or succeed. It is a low probability sales environment. Besides changing markets, the second factor of a high probability sales call is finding changing companies. In other words, who is in the market on this particular day. These customers already have motivation established -- something happened which launched them into the purchase decision process. In effect, a sales window has opened up as the motivation has been established and the investigation stage has started.
The objective for STRATX clients is to be in the marketing channel where the customer is investigating options. When this happens, the company is now in front of a high probability target in a ripe market and they now can make the case they have the best option.
Once we have identified our Ripe Markets and motivated Prospects we focus on connecting with the customer, at the right time. That time in the purchase decision cycle is when they start to look for information about the options available (investigation) and evaluate those options (evaluation).
If we know where and when they are looking, then we can get into that channel and make our case. That becomes our marketing channel. The possibilities can be combined into three major marketing channels.
Each channel operates differently and works on different assumptions.
With outbound marketing, the assumption is that we can find the exact company and contact person in our targeted profile. Once the universe of that profile is established, the process is then to narrow down the list to those who are actually in the market. The first step, creating the profile of the ideal customer, is developed in the Discovery Call. From this, the universal list can usually be created using the NAICS codes, Dun & Bradstreet, Hoovers, or Data Axel. We can use the internal filters in these tools to adjust for industry, geography, size, growth rate and a number of other qualifying factors. These lists can be further refined using the web scraper which looks for more specific words in a website. From this universal list, the next step is finding out, who is in the market, by looking for signals which indicate change is going on.
This might be a new president, a merger/acquisition, a new product, a funding event, a lawsuit or regulatory problem. We have 25 categories that signal change. In short, this step will identify who has motivation and who has started (or is about to start) the purchase process. A sales window has opened. The last step in the outbound channel is to find the exact contact needed. The preliminary titles are developed during the Discovery Call. We use several online tools for finding people with those job titles or functional positions. At this point in outbound marketing, your salespeople would use this highly qualified list of prospects which has the following characteristics:
They fit the profile of the perfect customer.
They have a likely motivation to buy.
The purchase process has/may have already started.
A decision-maker has been identified with legitimate contact information.
To summarize, outbound marketing assumes that we can identify the targeted customer exactly and can find them when they are in the purchase process. We can make contact, and get our message out to the right person at the right time.
Inbound marketing works on the idea that potential customers are coming to you. They may have found out about your company through a search on the Internet, or through an online ad associated with organic search terms, or through your website address (URL) in some published media or content. Inbound marketing has the advantages having motivation established without having to look for signals. Someone who puts in a search term in Google not only just tipped their hand that they want to buy a product or service, but they have also indicated they are on to the second and third step: investigation and evaluation. The searcher may be looking for lists, evaluation sites, review and rating sites, expert opinions, user groups, influencers and other evaluations. The same can be said of typing in the website address (motivation is established) but it depends on the additional step of getting that address published where it can be discovered.
The concept of watering holes assumes that we cannot perfectly identify the exact customer, but there are places where our target market concentrates. The analogy is attending a conference and walking down the main hallway of the hotel which has the breakout rooms. One of the rooms says “Software for Agricultural Machinery” and you are a company making software for agricultural manufacturers. At this point, you don’t know anyone in that room, but that is the room you want to be in. The attendees have self-selected and concentrated into this small but pure market. They meet the profile, have motivations and have begun the investigation stage. The people in this room will be of high-probability sales calls.
Watering holes can be actual physical places like conferences and trade shows, or they can be virtual like internet sites, user groups, discussion groups, influencer blogs, experts, or specialized media. The STRATX process is used to identify the watering holes.
STRATX principles are that marketing is not a standalone, singular activity. It is more like a chess game where it is not the individual pieces alone (market data, competitive chart, LinkedIn, text analyzers, GIS maps and others) , but rather the interrelationships between all the pieces.
Two principles are important:
1) the four-step purchase process
2) the concept of high probability sales in areas of change.
Marketing is harder when you try to create motivation versus finding motivation. Marketing is also inefficient when it is focused on low probability sales in calls in stable situations versus high probability areas of change. Our main focus is to find out where the targeted customers are going to investigate and evaluate their options, and then be in that marketing channel.
In terms of the practical steps in STRATX marketing, the qualified sales leads process begins in the Discovery Call. We start by establishing a baseline of current client marketing activities including their sources of industry information (print media, conferences, trade shows, social media, websites). The next step is determining the current and desired core strategy. We also develop the profile of the ideal customer and determine the motivation. We also inquire about new markets they may have an interest in. We do not try to identify new places where you could sell, but rather to find information about markets you may be considering.
The remainder of the engagement is to research the potential of the market; research the companies in the profile and determine which are undergoing change; identify which marketing channels the customer are in as they investigate options; and develop contact strategies for any or all of three channels: outbound, inbound, watering holes. The main idea is that instead of each specialist trying to solve the marketing problem with their own tool, we come at it with a systems approach which combines all the tools and principles into a coordinated effort.