A fairly embarrassing leap of faith on my family’s recent spring break vacation reminded me of parallel challenge in the work world. One that so many of us marketers often find ourselves in. It’s the type of situation that often involves a lot of unnecessary drama and spending, and it’s also one that we could often strategically avoid. And so, my story begins here…
I like to think I'm the adventurous type. So, when my kids wanted me to go on the big enclosed water slide at the indoor waterpark hotel we were staying in in St. Andrews, Canada I was game. They told me it was "awesome" and "fun" and "not scary". Showing just how brave I was, I gamely walked up the tower of stairs to the top of the slide, and only hesitated for a moment at the summit. Do not show fear I told myself. I then laid down and pushed off for what seemed like a long, steep, black, fearful plummet. Almost instantly, I realized this was not fun at all. My heart working overtime, I screamed- a lot- perhaps hysterically depending on your own personal definition of that - thinking no one would hear since the bulk of the water slide was outside and everyone else was inside. When I got to the bottom though, probably only 5 seconds later, the pool area was completely silent. All eyes were on me. I was told that my echoing screams sounded like someone was getting severely injured. My nervously laughing husband joked to the strangers beside him that he's never seen me before. I mustered all the dignity I still could, and gave a little half-hearted smile with my heart still pounding like a jack hammer inside my chest.
So how does this experience relate to a common marketing mistake that could lead us down a dark, scary tunnel? I relied on the advice of two well-meaning but biased enthusiasts – my kids. Had I asked an adult or someone with a mild fear of enclosed spaces, like myself, the slide may not have gotten such rave reviews, and I wouldn't have quite literally jumped in.
When sales and marketing only speak occasionally and anecdotally about their key insights and what resonates with customers, we as marketers cannot see the whole picture. We don't see how various customer segments might view the exact same message differently, or want to hear it in different formats. We need a way to hear from the sales team in a way that does not put us at risk of not having full and complete information on which to base our decisions.
In order to truly benefit from the knowledge only our feild sales and account teams possess we need to be able to collect their insights on an ongoing basis in ways that enable us to slice and dice this critical real time data in new ways. Afterall, not all insights that impact revenue and our go-to market strategies can be bought or acquired through conversations alone.
Take for instance understanding more qualitatively how your drug or device is covered relative to competitors in each geography so the most appropriate go-to market strategies and support programs can be developed. What about the med device or pharmaceuticals marketer who wants better visibility into what is happening in the field? What marketing materials are effective? Which should be retired? It would be nice to know you aren't spending your dwindling budget and precious time printing and creating pieces that don't matter. It would be nice for your sales team to actually be able to find the most effective pieces to support their interactions.
Enter the new secret weapon to marketing success - software platforms for team collaboration and knowledge management, a key element to creating commercial excellence and a clear competitive advantage for brands with aggressive growth goals. Such systems allow you to quickly collect, analyze, dissect and even layer the internal knowledge of direct, cross-functional and geographically dispersed teams so you don't find yourself sliding in the dark with all eyes watching.