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Buyer Tension

Many technology companies attempt to sell their products to two different kinds of buyers. For example, I once worked for a company that sold their products to both IT and managers of semiconductor factories.

Unfortunately, you undermine your marketing efforts when buyer tension exists. Buyer tension is when the messaging that resonates positively with one type of buyer antagonizes another type of buyer.

In the case of the company I mentioned above, the messages that were effective in marketing and selling to factory managers antagonized IT personnel. The reason was that, within the customer's organization, the IT personnel were currently providing their own custom solution to the factory manager. The most compelling message for the factory manager was to replace the custom solutions the IT personnel were providing with an out-of-the-box, easy-to-configure solution.

Thus marketing and selling to the factory manager antagonized the IT personnel, because it threatened not only their custom solution, but in some cases their jobs. So the product marketers tried to straddle both IT personnel and factory managers with the positioning of the product, thereby pleasing no one. The product developers were particularly displeased, because the straddle muddled the requirements for the product.

When buyer tension exists, it's a good indication that you lack sufficient focus. You need to pick one type of buyer and orient your product and messaging around that type of buyer.

Comments

Michael said…
Have you read Chapman's In Search of Stupidity? He mentioned stuff like this as one of his major themes. I'd be interested to hear your take on his post mortums.

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