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So much marketing out there is just noise. It isn’t driven by solving problems that your prospects face.

You already know about content. It’s king—and will stay that way. There are four P’s for content flavors: Promotional and Product are all about you. Then there’s Point of view (an industry perspective), which is better.

But the sweet spot is Pain point messaging. What does it mean to focus on pain, on problems, and the solutions you can bring to make people’s days better? Are you getting to what’s hurting your target market?

Listen in to learn from today’s guest, Tom Flynn, Former Co-Founder and CMO of Lavante and now VP of Marketing for PRGX Global.

There’s a lot to like in this wide-ranging interview. Some of the gems include:

Setting the right context for your content marketing efforts

I feel like a lot of marketers put so much pressure on themselves in the wake of these new and interesting social platforms and they keep evolving and folding in on themselves and coming up with even more reach, more capacity. And as marketers it can get intimidating and overwhelming because people think, ‘Well how do I leverage this communication device or this platform to sell more. To sell more. And I’ve got to show how I’m moving the needle.’  And that’s that’s all well and good. That’s ambitious and I would not take anybody off that line of thinking. But the reality is: take the pressure off of using everything as a vehicle to sell. And just start thinking about ‘How do I communicate? How do I discuss relevant topics that are swirling in the marketplace today?’ Again, my intent would be putting the focus on pain. But get back to that word “host.” How do I become the most gracious host of the most important conversation. If people understand that your goal is to sponsor the right conversation, they will eventually come to you about, ‘Hey, so what do you do? What are your solutions? You do so much for me already. How can we do more work together?’ And it might be counterintuitive. You might think just keep, you know, pulling the plough and just keep trying to sell and be overt about it. But at a certain point you’ve got to slow down and just be gracious and be a host. And that’s where you can really start understanding what these social platforms are for and it takes the pressure off of ‘I’ve got to turn this into units and sales.’ Just turn into the right type of conversation that everyone can join.

Being clever versus being annoying

If you create that really big explosion, that big moment, people are going to look. They are going to look. The trick is –  what do you have behind that? Too many people have that big moment that you look at, but then you peel back the covers and you’re like, “Oh, there’s nothing here. This isn’t that interesting.” That just becomes annoying. OK, you got my attention. I looked and there’s nothing there. But if they actually spend time talking to you, or communing with you, and they like what you’re selling or they like how you’re trying to push the industry, or that you’re being disruptive and they want to join you. Then, they think that this isn’t annoying at all. This is in fact very clever. And that’s the difference between clever and annoying. People want to partner with clever individuals. They want to partner with clever products and clever people and clever companies. They certainly want nothing to do with annoying companies…You say the right things. You bring in the right speakers and you’re not hitting him over the head to buy a product. You are clever you are gracious and you’re doing them a service that they’re not getting anywhere else.

On empathizing with your target audience

Like the friend that sits down with you and just starts telling you how great they are. You got nothing to do with [that person]. But we can’t bridge the gap and see how marketing is the same concept. You need to be a really good friend that empathizes, that talks about what your target audience is going through. And you have to do this genuinely. This can’t just be a gimmick. The friend that just wants to talk about themselves or use platitudes…you would never want to see them again. And we have to think about ourselves in the same vein. We’re talking to people at the end of the day and we have to make it something that they want first and foremost sit through. But also something that hopefully gives them value.

On building a pain point toolkit to inform both sales and marketing

Through this series of introspection and conversations with clients and conversations with Sales you find out what all their pain points are and then you think of what are the reasons for those pain points. And put it down on paper. At our company, we have a document. It’s our pain toolkit. It has 324 rows of scenarios of what people could potentially be suffering from. What their title is, what they’re suffering from, why they’re suffering. And then we also have what capacity or capabilities they need to solve it. And how does that map back to our product. Now, it all has to map or what’s the point? But we’ve actually put in hours upon hours of time doing this.

On using scenarios to break free from myopic, company-centric thinking

People start living and eating and breathing and sleeping their product, their environment, their department, whether you’re in marketing or in sales or as a client.  And you get that myopic view, “Yea, we’re different,” or “Our product is really next generation” and you need to discuss it from the point of view of scenarios – new legislation, solutions we’re trying to solve for, problems we’re trying to overcome – to kind of level the playing field so people get pulled out of their company-centric view and they go into what’s the larger context of the industry and the problems we’re trying to solve for. And that usually gives you a much better conversation. But, yeah, left to their own devices everyone will see the world through their prism.

On going to the front lines to gain empathy for Sales

Getting exposure to Sales on the frontline is absolutely paramount. It’s not something you can do in a day. You have to spend some time and commit to this development. But it’s so important because it’s more than just alignment. Forget that word. It’s more than just understanding. It’s really empathy. We talked about understanding pain points of prospects. It really is about understanding the pain points of Sales. Sales this is trying to really force these potential deals through the different segments of a pipeline and these things hit brick walls. What do they need to break through this barrier so that they can progress from stage to stage to stage of the pipeline? So the first thing you have to do is get get in touch with your inner salesperson and understand what would it really be like to walk in those shoes.


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