“Space. The final frontier.”
Maybe in September of 1966 when Star Trek initially aired. At this point, nobody had reached a breakthrough in understanding the flaws in Einstein’s EPR paper that mentioned what is now referred to as “Quantum Entanglement.” In the 80’s, the scientific community finally made discoveries that led to a deeper understanding of this concept and proved to us that space was not the final frontier, the Quantum Realm is. (For a fun and simplified explanation, see this video)
Last night my wife and I watched Ant-Man and Wasp, the hilarious and entertaining sequel to Marvel’s Ant-Man. I’ll keep it vague to avoid spoilers for those few that haven’t seen it, but it has a lot to do with the Quantum Realm. I paused the movie at one point to explain to my wife the little I know about the sub-atomic world and some of its properties that have to do with the movie. In doing so I realized that it has a lot to do with everything, really.
I’m a digital marketing consultant, specializing in Google Ads. I’m also one of fewer than 1000 Certified Customer Experience Professionals (CCXP) in the world. I’m also a devout “people person.” My unique blend of experience, education, interests, and behavioral style allows me to see my work in a different way than most digital marketers. Part of this, as eluded to before, is the overwhelming need. To. Learn. This is why I know a little about people, business, marketing, and Quantum Mechanics.
A Relevant Concept
With a bit of background in place, let me wildly over-simplify an important idea pertaining to non-locality that comes from quantum mechanics.
If you have two particles from the same source and measure the state of one of the particles it will always correlate 100% to the state of the other even if they’re on opposite sides of the earth. This means that either they are transferring information faster than the speed of light or that they are connected in some way. Planck length is another concept that indicates the smallest an object can be in our physical realm. Going beyond this implies that when you split or shrink something enough times it loses locality, meaning it becomes everywhere at once. If something is everywhere at once it would seem that manipulating part of it on one side of the world would affect the connected particles on the other side of the world at the same instant. (For fun and nerdy research deeper into this topic, check out Scalar Field Theory.)
Back To Earth
With all of that geeking out in place I’m ready to get to how this applies to making money and why I say we’re in the “quantum age.” Want me to simplify my over-simplification in the paragraph above?
Everything is connected on some level.
Every person on the planet can access someone else through social media, a cell phone call, a written letter, a conversation in person, carrier pigeon, signal fire, or any number of modes of communication. There are currently more ways of connecting than at any other time in the history of existence.
It’s not just people though. Everything is made up of relationships. How one piece of information correlates to another is a fundamental understanding in the progression of discovery, innovation, and invention.
Relationships are such an important part of our existence and so intrinsic to our human nature that any perceived lack of relationship will send us into a state of depression and overwhelming longing. Loneliness is, at its core, an ignorance of the existing relationships in one’s life due to the unfulfilled desire for a specific type of relationship. (Don’t get mad. I’m not saying its irrational to be lonely, I’ve been there too.) We may feel alone, but there are more relationships in our life than we ever realize.
How does this affect the world of business? I’m so glad you asked.
The Business World
What’s the difference between the business world and the normal world?
Trick question! It’s the same world. What makes a business person different from a normal person? Nothing! A business woman is a person. A business man is a person.
Want to know why businesses, marketing efforts, and even marriages fail? One or more people involved fails to identify, prioritize, and act upon the correct relationships. In a marriage, this could be the relationship between a husband’s emotional intelligence and his wife’s subtle hints about needing to feel appreciated. In marketing efforts it is so often the relationship between a market’s needs, expectations, and desires and the marketer’s message and targeting. In business as a whole it can be the relationship between leadership and front-line employees or the relationship between the market’s needs, expectations, and desires and the product or service offered.
It seems that as we get smarter and smarter as a society we shift our focus from the eternal principles on which our reality is built to focus instead on short-term tactics for instant gratification. We throw away the middle pieces of the puzzle so we can identify and build the border faster, but we’re not getting the whole picture.
People Are People
I think I’ve used this headline more than any other headline because it needs to be said so much. People are people, but they’re not all the same person. As the brilliant Steve Sisler says “We don’t see people as they are, we see them as we are.” In our businesses and our marketing we need to remember that our customers, users, clicks, impressions, conversions, sales, etc, are all individual people with individual experiences, emotions, feelings, ideas, and value. It’s important that we “business people” don’t lose sight of this and that we seek to understand the thoughts, emotions, and perceptions of the individuals that interact with our brands. This is an essential step in the process of turning prospects and one-off customers into loyal brand evangelists. In an age with so many connections, many of them digital and impersonal, sincere human interaction and the acknowledgement of an individual’s value is like a glass of cold water on a hot day in the desert.
To expand on the “brand evangelist” idea mentioned above, I would reference Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans article. In 2008, Kelly explained that there is a certain type of fan out there that will buy everything you put out, read every piece of content, and tell everyone they see about you and what you do. With enough of this type of fan (or customer), a brand could theoretically sustain a reasonable amount of revenue. Taking this a bit deeper, Perry Marshall explains that due to the Pareto Principle (aka the 80/20 rule) if you have 8 customers that will pay you $1,000 for a product, at least 1 customer will pay you $10,000 for a product. These numbers may not be exact, but the idea is that 80/20 is fractal. In the top 20% of customers that provide 80% of your revenue, there is a small percentage of those valuable customers that makes up the bulk of that large percentage of revenue.
The process of turning prospects and customers into loyal brand evangelists is simply about building and strengthening relationships. It’s like dating. Meet someone, get to know them through interaction, shared experience, and conversation. The more time you spend with one another, the more you show you are interested in them and they are valuable to you, the more they will like and trust you. As Bob Burg and John D. Mann say in their book The Go Giver “All things being equal people will do business with, and refer business to, people they know, like, and trust.” The more they like you, the more they trust you, the more they will do business with you and refer business to you. This is often dependent on how much value you’ve provided while meeting the customers needs and desires compared to how much value the customer expected. So it would seem wise to seek an understanding of what your customers need, expect, and desire. This understanding helps to build bridges between the various stages of prospect, customer, and loyal brand evangelist.
However, it’s impractical for most businesses and marketers to change their business based on the desires of one person. “The customer is always right” is a terrible slogan, even as a Customer Experience consultant. A more accurate slogan may be “the consensus derived from the aggregate needs, expectations, and desires of your top customer segment are always right.” More simply put if the 20% of your customers that provide 80% of your revenue are mostly requesting the same product add-on, you should give them that add-on.
It’s not that easy in some businesses. Many businesses don’t have customers requesting features. It’s pretty easy to identify the top customer segments thanks to all of the analytics tools we have available in today’s society, but how can we understand the needs, expectations, and desires of those customers?
Ask them! If these people are actually responsible for driving 80% (Heck, even if it’s only 50%) of your revenue, treat them like they’re the reason for the success of your business. Get on the phone with them, fly them out to your headquarters, send them a personal email (or even better, a hand-written letter), or find some other way of talking to them that proves that you care enough about them to devote your time to understanding how they think and feel about your brand. Send surveys to everyone so that you get insight from all across the customer spectrum, but treat the top segments like celebrities you’ve always wanted to meet and form some relationships.
Building relationships with customers is one thing, but taking someone from a complete stranger to a customer is a completely different problem. What are the important relationships in marketing that can change the game for me?
The most important relationship in marketing is the relationship of your product or service to the needs, expectations, and desires of the market. Unless you started the business based on this understanding there’s a good chance it’s out of your hands. Thankfully, there are a huge number of different types of people with different needs, expectations, and desires and so many different products or services will appeal to a large enough group that you can keep a company afloat. With the product or service already being decided by your company’s founder it falls on you to focus on the next most important relationship in marketing: the relationship between your brand message and the needs, expectation, and desires of the market.
Customer Understanding seems to be the focal point to a lot of these key relationships. How can you deliver a message that resonates strongly enough to make them part with their money? Know what they want, how they want it, and why. If 95% of decisions are made for emotional reasons, then understanding the relationships between your message and your customer’s emotions is a powerful way to increase sales.
As a Google Ads consultant I find that the element that correlates to sales most consistently is ad copy. Bland ad copy that focuses on features will more often than not perform at a lower level than ad copy that focuses on benefits. Ad copy that focuses on benefits will more often than not perform at a lower level than ad copy that addresses the fears, hopes, concerns, desires, and expectations of the ideal customer segments. This relationship is traced through other, smaller relationships. The relationship between Impressions (the people who see your ads) and Clicks (the people that thought your ad could lead them to what they want) is shown through the CTR (Click Through Rate) metric. The relationship between people who thought your ad could lead them to what they want and the people who found what they wanted and decided to do business with you (Conversions) can be seen in the Conversion Rate metric. The relationship between your marketing message and the revenue produced as a result of its impact on people can be seen by looking at the Return On Investment metric (In Google Ads, this is Conversion Value/Cost – 100%). These relationships are not limited to Google Ads, of course, but I’ll let you find those for yourself.
Quantum Mechanics In Business
Identifying and capitalizing on these marketing relationships is so satisfying. However, if you want sustainable growth in your business you have to see all of the relationships. Marketing is great for getting new customers in the door, but it really only serves the purpose of telling prospective customers what they can expect if they give you their money. A person sees your ad, email, blog post, tweet, etc and associates certain ideas and expectations with your brand. So, in effect, your marketing message is your “Brand Promise.” If these ideas and expectations align with their needs and desires they will likely proceed to do business with you. This is where the relationship between brand promise and operational design, brand culture, and governance practices comes into play. You’ve set the stage, now it’s time to perform.
If everything is connected then surely the ads a person saw that led them to do business with you correlate to the experience they expect to have with your brand. The way you treat your front line employees is related to the way they treat your customers. The way your front line employees interact with them is related to their perception of the value you place on them. The extent to which they feel valued is related to their satisfaction with their experience. The consistency with which you satisfy them is related to their loyalty to you. Their loyalty to you is related to the amount of money they are willing to spend with you.
There are so, so, so many more relationships involved in business, all with varying strengths of correlation. What I’d propose to sum it all up is this:
Your ability to make money in today’s day and age is directly related to your ability to identify and strengthen the right relationships.