Customers Want to Find You

This morning, I found a statistic that affirms my belief that buyers become customers when they believe that they have discovered and understood a product without outside help. I touched on this in a recent post, here.

The statistic that I saw was that 80% of customers believe that they found and discovered a product themselves, whereas only 20% of customers think that they had been ‘found’ by the vendor. These statistics were reported last year by a company called Marketo and commented on the blog Enterprise Software Executive here.

find customers

There are a number of interesting points about this statistic.

My first thought was, okay, so how do we think about who discovers whom? For example, when I google for a phrase and find a company/product, I think I found it. When I see an advert and then go to the company’s website and then approach the company, I think I found the company. Or, when I am at a conference and see the company’s stand or representative and approach them for more information, I think I found the company. Or when I read a newspaper or blog article on a company, I think I found it.

The only instance when I think I didn’t find the company is probably when I get cold-called, spam-emailed, and direct-mailed.

The truth is: if the company didn’t have a website, didn’t search optimise it, didn’t advertise, didn’t attend conference, didn’t have anybody available to interact with bloggers and journalists etc, there would be hardly any way for anybody to ‘find’ the company. Well, maybe apart from direct word of mouth that is.

Obviously, none of the above is truly earth-shatteringly new. Marketers constantly talk about ‘lead generation’ and ‘brand building’.

Here is my penny’s worth of thought. Buyers don’t want to get advertised to. They don’t want to get discovered. They want to discover you.

I think marketing is a great deal about enabling people to discover you. Not the other way round. If you don’t believe me, just look at the statistic above.

So, how do you structure your marketing campaign? As a net that is supposed to enable people to find you? Or as a mechanism to establish brand and leads?

Maybe, this is the reason why search engines work so well. They are, by definition, there to help people find stuff. Maybe this is why buyers use them so much. It helps them find the companies they will buy from. And that is what they actually want.

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3 thoughts on “Customers Want to Find You

  1. Those stats from Marketing Sherpa have always fascinated me. I think that more and more consumers (in both the B2B and B2C sense) are using technology to block out sales and advertising messages (caller ID, DVR/TiVo, Spam Blockers, etc.) and more and more it is the customer who is in control.

    It’s no wonder it is the customer who is saying that they found the vendor. They block all the ads, so the customer must think they are doign the work. What are the tools the customer is using to find the vendor? Search engines, blogs, social media, and more. So why are marketing professionals still using cold calls, direct mail and advertising?

    I wish I had an answer. Here is a blog article about the concept of “Inbound Marketing” which is what I think marketers should be doing today – making it easy for customers to find your company in search engines, blogs and social media.

    http://tinyurl.com/29xotn

  2. This notion of the customer wanting control captures the potential of VRM (Vendor Relationship Management). Unlike CRM systems, VRM offers the opportunity for customers to have more power in identifying and managing their purchasing. Discussions about principles and standards of VRM are still emerging but you can read more about them here: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/projectvrm/Main_Page

  3. @ Mike @ Scott

    thanks for the links, very interesting articles.

    Inbound marketing: yes, agree. I think of it as a laying a sort of “breadcrumb trail” that connect the buyers/users with the company and its products. Companies are increasingly doing this: investing in their customers, as opposed to marketing to them. Just look at Google: how many free products to they have to that effect?

    VRM: If you think widely, then even things like OpenID fall in this category. I think there is substantial opportunity in this area.

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