Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Naked Marketing?

Pat Lencioni of consultancy the Table Group, writes about "naked consulting" in a BusinessWeek piece this week. His point is that rather than acting like know-it-alls, focusing on looking smart, and doing whatever it takes to be hired by clients, consultants should be "naked" and allow their vulnerability to show through to build trust. They should ask questions (dumb ones too), offer ideas, make suggestions from the very beginning of the relationship, even before they're hired--before they even know whether they'll be hired to consult. In marketing terms, the would-be consultants are adding value and being transparent during the very first interaction.

You can see a video clip and read more about his book, Getting Naked, here. Back to his BW piece, where Lencioni says that naked consultants:

...do no real selling at all, foregoing that activity in order to find a way to help a potential client even if the business never actually becomes a real, paying one.

What does this have to do with marketing? Everything: In an ideal world, customers want and expect marketing and marketers to be naked. They want to know the real benefits of a good or service, they want to know the real price, and they want to know when an offering is not right for them.

It takes courage for a marketer to be naked in front of customers (and competitors) but ultimately, it does build trust and loyalty. This is all about the long term, not just a single transaction. Customers resent obfuscation and crave transparency.

Here's a perspective on naked marketing based on the decades-old rhetorical question, "Would Macy's Tell Gimbel's?" The two department stores were archrivals situated across the street from each other in New York City's busiest retail district. It was a point of competitive pride not to reveal info that would send a customer to the rival.

However, as this blogger points out, Amazon routinely lets transparency rule by listing all sellers of a particular product and showing their offers in price order. Now that's naked marketing--being confident enough to put the customer's needs first. I know Amazon gets a cut of the sale when customers buy from one of its sellers...but it still takes a competent, confident marketer to allow customers to make that decision on their own.

No comments:

Post a Comment