In the year 1988, Neil Rackham wrote a book called SPIN Selling. The concept was simple, that there were four fundamental stages when it came to selling.
He broke it down into the letters S.P.I.N.
S referred to situation. P referred to the problem. I referred to Implication. N stood for need / payoff.
The framework was this : You start by explaining to the target audience the situation that they can relate to. Elaborate on the problems that we face. The implication of what that problem means - in terms of cost, and the need for us to solve that problem.
Hubspot has an article that summarizes it : SPIN selling, the ultimate guide.
Layers of Marketing Communication.
It is helpful to keep the principles of SPIN selling in mind, because the goal of marketing is to create demand and for sales to fulfill it. So in a way, marketing has to tie in and satisfy parts of the process, so that sales can reap the benefits.
And that applies to almost every activity that you do in marketing. Think about what are the inputs and what are the outputs and where does the output feed into. If it is a blank, then you are not layering it, you are just doing a one off activity.
For eg, you organize a webinar on Productivity under remote Work. You have great speakers and have a stellar turn out. It would be considered a marketing or lead generation activity by most entities. There should have been some inputs gone into who is your ideal participant - if it was wide open, you are going to get too much noise than signal. And similarly, once the session is done, the transition to lead to a follow up and appropriate prospects to connect with the business develop team has to be streamlined.
I would break down product marketing into four parts - The product, features, solution and proof.
The Product essentially talks about positioning - who is this product for. You could be selling low fat milk that is aimed at folks who want to be fit or full fat milk that is aimed at body builders. The product essentially says, we are x who do y. Even better if you are uniquely poised to deliver on that promise.
The Features talk about use cases. The features are also ways for you to connect with different stakeholders in a complex solution paradigm. You could be selling a enterprise product that caters to managers, employees, outside vendors etc. The way you market the features would help get buy-in, in each of these layers with a value proposition that resonates with them.
The Solution layer talks about what the product does for me, and what is the larger issue that is addresses. Does the product help me increase revenues or decrease costs. Does it help increase productivity? How so? Does it help build retention with my customers? It is less about what your product is, and how it solves the problem that the customers face on a larger level. This proposition has to be strong enough that it aids the final decision maker to say, it makes sense.
Honestly speaking, the world doesn't care much about your product, only how you can help solve their problem.
Eg. One of the problems that healthcare entities in the US face is the issue of readmission rates. A patient checks into the hospital, and gets treated for a sickness and they are discharged. If by any chance the patient gets re-admitted in for the same issue within a period of time, it shows in the record of the hospital and there are penalties. So hospitals error on the side of caution by keeping patients longer than they need to be kept, which increases the overall cost of healthcare. If you have a product that helps in continuous monitoring, that is the topic you want to be talking about
The final layer would be proof. Tell me who else has used this product and what it has done for them. These would be testimonials, video interviews, white papers, case studies etc. To a certain extent, this is where CorpComm and PR team plays a part in amplifying proof - as it also contributes to the flywheel of building brand and credibility, and emphasises on the "values" you talk about in the first layer.
A good marketing head would equip its team with a product sheet, whitepapers, case studies, ROI calculators, competitive killsheet to move the customer towards the decision making process. At that point in time, they are ready to meet with the BD / Sales team.
Modern day startups don't rely on demographics. We rely on psychographics. The basic insight is that, those who think in a certain way, behave in a certain way.
That is quite in contrast to the demographic based approach where we tried to predict people's behavior by their age group, where they lived, income levels etc.
For anyone who is seriously looking to wet their feet in marketing, I would strongly suggest taking a few minor courses in psychology, which would ground your understanding.
Here's an example:
There are estimated to be roughly 32 different emotions that we feel. There are studies that are conducted where focus groups rate an advertisement or campaign and assign an emotion that they feel.
There are emotions that are invoked, and there are states of mind (before and after) and it is helpful to understand that. The right marketing message would keep that in context when crafting it.
Some of the frequently invoked emotions are hope, joy, excitement, envy, despair, love, hate etc. When you are trying to connect on one of these deep emotional states, it is important to get the state of mind right. It is faux paus to talk about hope with someone who has lost a loved one - the right emotion would be love and understanding, not "it will get better". And hence marketers very rarely tread on these emotions - unless they can really really nail it. So it is by enlarge used in things like political campaigns and to address large scale events and situations.
The most used emotion is laughter. The more impactful (yet double edged) is fear. The more impactful ones are built around a epiphany.
Remember that Nestle ad where it talks about how we meet 80,000 people in our lives? Did it make you pause for a second and wonder? If it did, it did its job.
Every epiphany has to lead to a resolve - and that is a powerful hook if you can use it well. The most memorable songs of our lifetimes, are those that have both of those - they have an epiphany, that leads to a resolve.
Here's an excellent example of some of these elements coming together in one campaign.
Every politician when they make their entry into the scene needs a introduction. This 2 minute ad is brilliant that is brings together several of these key elements that we talked about. Right from the powerful copy it starts with..."Women like me aren't supposed to run for office". Every single word that is crafted in it, is carefully structured to cover all the 7 elements that go into a great marketing message.
See if you can catch it - especially all parts of S.P.I.N glowing beautifully. We'll break down the ad in the next stage, also talk about how to lay out a campaign and some best practices when it comes to frequency, activities, timelines etc.
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