A selection from the new book: Different Rules – the B2B Marketer’s Guidebook to Product Differentiation
Too many choices, too little time
In the past, people had lots of time on their hands, but not many choices. Henry Ford reportedly said in the early 1900s, “You can get any color of automobile you want, as long as you choose black.” Funny, perhaps, but true. Ford’s purchasing agents surely met more of the same when searching for automobile paint, bearings, and other industrial goods. It was a world of unlimited time and limited choices.
The great post-war industrial boom begat innovation, production efficiencies and vastly more choices. It continues to this day. And what happened to the quaint concept of unlimited time and limited choice? Gone forever, replaced by the current state: limited time and virtually unlimited choices.
These days, you and your customers wrestle with stress-inducing time pressures multiplied by a perplexing range of product and supplier options – and more information about those options than Henry Ford ever would have dreamed.
Modern day master of persuasion, psychologist Dr. Robert Cialdini, tells us what happens as the time crunch intensifies amid an explosion of choices and information…
“…technology can evolve much faster than we can. With the sophisticated mental apparatus we have used to build world eminence as a species, we have created an environment so complex, fast-paced, and information laden that we must increasingly deal with it in the fashion of the animals we long ago transcended.”
So, what’s your customer or prospect to do? No different than every other human, they:
1. Take shortcuts
2. Accept “good enough”
Voltaire, the Italian philosopher, said this in 1770: “Perfect is the enemy of the good.” Now, more than ever, people heed this counsel. When deciding what to buy, people don’t think perfect, or better or best. They think “utility.” And utility means fitness for a purpose, as in, “will it solve my problem?” This purchasing paradigm – utility – is how B2B buyers make decisions today. Do you understand the true utility your offerings provide? Do your customers??
Chris Wirthwein is Senior Director for 5MetaCom, a marketing agency that develops strategies and campaigns to differentiate B2B technical and scientific products. He has authored three marketing books, including his latest, Different Rules: The B2B Marketer’s Guidebook to Product Differentiation. You can reach Chris on LinkedIn or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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