November 21, 2014

Customer insight is silver. Prospect insight is gold.

Do the math. Your prospects outnumber your customers by a ratio that should inspire your fondest dreams of exponential growth. Your “ten-bagger,” your “BHAG.”

1000-1? 10,000-1? Any way you slice it, every marketer has a prospect audience out there with enormous potential.prospect insight

If. (Big if.)

If, for example, marketers get over the obsession with customer insight. Is CI useful? Sure. There are clues there. And, as the cliché says*, many customers are also prospects. Pursuing them is a good function for sales people, ops people, everybody who impacts customer satisfaction. Silver medal suff.

If you’re a marketer, however – get over it. There’s a gold medal prize if you can unlock the treasure chest. The key is prospect insight.

Don’t give in to the delusion that prospects are just like customers, minus a teaspoon of awareness. That’s an easy answer, a lazy strategy, and always wrong. Marketing is not so simple that buying a little more awareness solves the growth problem.

Those prospects, for the most part, are already customers of somebody else. You can’t just scoop them up with a “hey, we exist” message. You have to wrestle them away from what they spend money on now, which takes a deep understanding of what differentiators are relevant to them. What’s urgent. What will resonate to evoke an emotional response?

What will it take to get them to trust you and believe your brand narrative?

Finding those breakthrough prospect insights is genuinely hard work, requiring

• skillful research,

• brilliant account planners, or

• technology that offers actionable analytics.

Great researchers and planners are both valuable and rare. New content marketing technology, on the other hand, can now get you to prospect insights in innovative ways.

*“Customers are your best prospects” is a common excuse to avoid the hard work of finding prospect insights. They’re not the best prospects, just the easiest to find. If you’re satisfied with mildly incremental growth, you can accept this cliché – but why not go big?