“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything” -- George Bernard Shaw.Daniel Pink’s book "A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future" brought to light the changing landscape in which we all can expect to perform. He outlines why the work of left-brain (or left-directed, as he prefers to call it) thinkers -- such as engineers, accountants and lawyers -- can be commoditized and outsourced to people in other countries at a fraction of what American companies currently pay.
And it should feel that way. Because what Pink talks about isn’t just a phenomenon for engineers, accountants and lawyers, it applies directly to how we’re used to thinking as marketers. We’ve focused on left-directed thinking as it relates to data, analytics and precision and often don’t make decisions without referring to the numbers first. Right-directed thinkers, on the other hand, can process multiple ideas at once and come to a conclusion quickly. They like metaphors, context and meaning.
While we've relied on left-directed thinking for decades, a right-directed approach is emerging. No longer can we drown our audiences with rationale, but instead need to create impact by humanizing the problem.
The very fact that companies generate more content already makes content’s impact less significant. For businesses, you can’t just produce content, you have to have something provocative to say. To be honest, this should have always been the case, but wasn't necessarily so, because there was less competition for people’s attention.
This is where the left-right perspective comes into play. The marketing world we’re shedding is the left-directed here’s-why-you-should-listen-to-me approach. It’s doesn’t matter how thick the piles of data are that you rely on, you have to think differently.
This is where the right-directed brain comes in. It looks for meaning and wants to put things into broader context. It’s why content marketing that speaks to an audience like they’re humans -- not numbers -- and understands their pain proves so effective.
Artful content marketing doesn't start with a template for a process. It requires looking at the world with a different point of view, challenging what we see and then bringing context and meaning to the big picture.
In the past few centuries, we've moved from the agriculture age to the industrial and information ages and now we’re in the conceptual age. We’re seen a shift in the types of characteristics we expect in marketers -- fewer product-oriented, single focus individuals to conceptual, multi-dimensional agile thinkers. It’s what’s required for content marketers to do a good job.
The Harvard Business Review recently included an article called “Rethinking the 4 P’s” about Motorola Solutions’s new marketing framework. An ideology proposed in the 1960s, the 4 P’s focused on a producer-oriented model to determine a company’s offering. The authors of the article, however, contend that the four P’s deliver narrow results and don’t fit in today’s solution-oriented marketing environment, particularly for B2B.
Here’s how they see the transition to the new SAVE framework:
- Product to Solution -- define what you offer by the needs that you meet, not your product’s features and functions.
- Price to Access -- develop an integrated cross-channel presence that takes into consideration the entire customer journey instead of isolated channels and individual purchase locations.
- Promotion to Value -- talk about the benefits relative to the investment, rather than your price or compare with your competitors.
- Place to Education -- provide information relevant to each of your persona’s specific needs at each point in the sales and retention cycle, rather than a generic “spray and pray” approach.
What this means is that we have to be OK with giving up our familiar processes and learn to think differently, in a way that brings new meaning and a different context to our work. When we get nervous and yearn for an answer, running the numbers won’t save us.
Challenge Through Content
The challenger sales model has right-directed characteristics that prove valuable for content marketers. These sales people understand their customers very well and have a different point of view on the world. They love to debate and push their customers.
For content marketers, this means you have to know some things very, very well that you may prefer to dismiss. One is your customer -- it’s easy to say personas are important and even easier to throw them to the wayside when they become a hassle. You also have to know your industry inside and out.
Brilliant content marketing teaches through insights, brings a provocative, unique perspective and offers new ideas that customers didn't realize existed. It has a message tailored to each customer and knows their position in the conversation. Because true insights can’t be commoditized and outsourced halfway around the world.
Image courtesy of Doggygraph (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: Want more from Carla? Read her What Marketing Can Learn from IT about Content