Jim Stengel is an author, business guru, and experienced global marketing executive. His branding expertise surpasses most, and I’ve enjoyed wisdom I’ve garnered from his writing, especially his new book. He focuses on consumer branding more than business to business, which is no surprise given he was the global marketing officer for Proctor and Gamble, a company legendary for its ability to brand consumer products. He came to mind a few days ago as I caught up on my various feeds and found him quoted in a post about great marketing quotes. Here’s his quote:
If you want to understand how a lion hunts don’t go to the zoo. Go to the jungle.
It was a bit strange to see that quote right in the middle of a list of quotes that spoke of customer awareness, product development, advertising, and response ratios. Each of the others was a somewhat pompous truism (and let’s face it, a lot of the “experts” can make even the most basic marketing statement in a completely pompous way—myself included.) I suppose that’s why it stuck with me, and I found myself realizing it had a lot of value in the world of B2B technology.
One of the problems with those of us in the tech sector—especially in tech startups—is that we tend to market our product as though our customers were caged. In a zoo, the lion gets what’s thrown through the bars of its cage. It’s docile. It’s reactive and not proactive. In short, it’s just waiting for the zookeeper to direct its behavior. How often do we market to our customers with the same perspective? We parcel our data and try to control the sale as though our targets lived in a cage and had no ability to see beyond the exhibit.
That’s not today’s customer for us. Today’s executive isn’t locked in a cage. We’re not zookeeper’s handing out controlled portions of information with which to make a buying decision. On the contrary, today’s executive is constantly on the hunt. Access to information is almost completely without barrier today and it doesn’t come from zookeepers in call centers. Our customers aren’t caged and we can’t control the sale. So what do we do? There’s a simple answer, though it’s by no means easy. We start exploring the jungle.