Dear CMO:

Are we in a recession? No? It feels like it. Probably because the media believes that any economic growth less than “exuberant” means we’re heading for the breadlines and soup kitchens. Anyway. Let’s agree that everyone in a position to buy whatever it is you sell is nervous right now, so selling is harder than it was a year ago.

We’ve read and written quite a bit over these past few months on how to market in a recession. A rush to accountability, the rise of SEM as a viable budgetary alternative to Big Advertising, etc. But apart from the major tactical issues, I ran across a very well made point by Michael Port that bears repeating. Assuming you’re selling something more complex than anything hanging on a clip strip at Seven Eleven, think long and hard about how you can make it easier to get a “yes.”

What does this mean to a marketer? Don’t try to rush the sale when your buyers are cutting back and you’re likely to have a lower conversion rate. Go for a higher conversion rate on an easier close. Break it down for your customer.

Can I get you to visit my blog?
Can I get you to download a podcast or white paper?
How about attend a webinar?
Can I get you to accept a trial version? A sample? A free consultation?
Can I sell you one — with a money back guarantee — instead of an enterprise level installation?

What are the easiest steps you can take to make it easy for them to say “yes?”

For a consumer marketer, think more like a B2B marketer: complex sales have different stages, different needs, different influencers, so hit them all.

For a B2B marketer, think more like a consumer marketer: how can I sample, how can I trade up, how can I disaggregate the whole and win one step at a time?

Making it easy (or at least easier) taps into our built-in decision triggers related to consistency — we are more apt to do what we’ve done in the past. Consistency is a core principle of influence — if you’ve read past posts on influence that relate to Dr. Robert Cialdini, you’ve seen these examples time and time again. Making it easy to begin a relationship, for example, makes it easier to continue it.

Good, solid advice for times of uncertainty.


(Photo courtesy of Flickr).