I knew this when I did consumer research for launching new products and the potato chip flavour loved by the majority bombed on the shelves and I know this as I look at the clients I help in their marketing messaging. What buyers say and what they do can be very very different. Here is how this shows up in business and how you can leverage it to your advantage.
My Husband Is…
Research conducted by a dry old economist reveals the most hilarious and paradoxically perhaps the saddest picture of how buyers are liars, even in personal affairs. The research found that most frequently posted adjectives on social media to complete the phrase “My husband is …” were “the best,” “my best friend,” “amazing,” “the greatest” and “so cute.” Sadly, on the other hand when the same research looked at Google, some words that completed that same phrase were “a jerk,” “annoying,” “gay” and “mean”. Even people who bought a husband (!) were liars.
Posturing in Business
How does this show up in business? According to the same research, it showed that cheapie Las Vegas hotel Circus Circus and the uber-luxurious celebrity haunt Bellagio each held about the same number of people. But the Bellagio got about three times as many check-ins on Facebook. This posturing was reflected in the number of BMW owners vs. those who posted about their ownership and the number of men who actually stream Katy Perry vs. her followers’ real gender break and so on. Social media is all for show. Buyers are liars in every aspect of their lives.
Marketing To Lying Buyers
How do you work with lying buyers to figure out how to serve up some sticky messaging for them to remember you by?While working on the marketing strategy for a logistics company, we found that the problem that buyers were admitting to having was product left waiting sitting on the docks. The real issue was that they didn’t have the proper infrastructure and systems in place which was causing this to happen. So, clearly it would be more effective to message on the buyer’s “lie” versus the real story.
The Biggest Lies Come Out While Buying
Within 15 seconds of the sales meeting, the giant accounting firm who I was meeting with had decided not to hire me. Simply because of one question I asked: “what is your financial growth objective?” You can imagine my subsequent gawking upon hearing the answer that it was “against the company culture to not only have growth objectives but to even have a budget for the year!!” Then the discussion degenerated into a defensive position by the company explaining how non-sales related values were more important than cold hard numbers for their business. At the end of the hour long meeting, I was frankly told that I would not be considered by the other partners because I had worked for companies like Pepsi-Co instead of any accounting firms as a marketer. I think we could both smell the BS a mile away. Buyers are liars. The firm’s rejection was a done deal 15 seconds into the tense meeting.
What To Do?
Learn how to look at the proper metrics. Like looking at Google instead of Facebook postings. Like looking at profitability instead of SEO as in the case of a home organizer client who unfortunately based all their marketing strategy on closet organizing rather than the much more profitable and differentiated garage organizing because their SEO guru told them the closets got a bigger hit. Then during the actual marketing and sales process, ask deeper questions and listen to the layers of the answers with your prospects.
Buyers might be liars but it’s our job as marketers to use that to sell to them…