Almost Timely News, 21 August 2022: PIGS In Your Marketing Strategy (8/21) :: View in Browser

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PSA: Beware Scammy PayPal Invoices

I’ve noticed over the last week a sharp increase in spammy invoices from PayPal vendors. They’re legit emails in that they’re from PayPal, but they’re with vendors I’ve never done business with. BEWARE! Just because someone sends you an invoice doesn’t mean you need to pay it.

What’s On My Mind: PIGS In Your Marketing Strategy

One of the most useful frameworks for marketing strategies and marketing campaigns is something I call PIGS. It’s a derivation of several works over the years, all the way from E. St. Elmo Louis’ AIDA framework in 1898, but PIGS is my variant mainly because it’s more fun to say. If you’ve sat through any of my talks on the topic, you know how much delight I take in it.

So, what is PIGS? PIGS stands for problem, impact, general solution, specific solution. Let’s talk through each of these phases and what they mean for our marketing capabilities.

The first challenge is the problem. What is the problem the customer has? More important, does the customer understand that they have the problem? Problem awareness is one of the biggest blind spots for self-centered marketers because we assume that everyone knows what the problem is. Implicit in the declaration that “everyone needs our company’s products/services” is the assumption that everyone has the problem we solve. We know rationally that’s not true for almost everyone except industries like the funeral industry – death is a problem everyone eventually has.

If the top of your funnel is empty or thinner than it should be, then you haven’t done a good job marketing the problem.

The second challenge is the impact. This is an area that I and my company struggle with a lot. The customer understands the problem but doesn’t understand the impact of the problem. My partner Katie Robbert talks about this quite a bit, especially with scenario planning – what’s the impact if you do nothing? In our marketing communications, we absolutely have to make the case that not only is there a problem, but there’s an impact if you don’t solve the problem, or you choose the wrong partner to solve the problem. You’ll hear this in dry boardroom lingo like “presenting the business case” for a project – that’s just an overcomplicated way of saying what the problem’s impact is. If you can’t communicate the impact, the need to solve the problem, then your marketing is going to fail. I run into this a lot with analytics – a lot of people understand they have an analytics problem, but the impact isn’t clear until the problem is really big, and then it’s too late to fix it.

If the number one reason for lost business deals or customers is “no decision”, then you haven’t done a good job marketing the impact.

The third challenge is the general solution. This is education, educating the customer that the problem and the impact are solvable. There is a way out of the pain you’re in, and the general solution is X. You’re hungry – that’s the problem. You know you get hangry – that’s the impact. The general solution is to eat something. Now, in some cases, the solution itself may not be known and therefore customers need education that the solution even exists. Ever hear those ads on late night TV (or in memes about late night TV) that start with that overexaggerated, “ARE YOU TIRED OF MOWING YOUR LAWN IN STRAIGHT LINES?” That’s marketing the general solution. The problem and impact are clear, but the customer may not know that the general solution exists.

If the middle of your funnel is thinner than it should be, then that may be a sign that you’re not educating about the solution in general. People can’t pick you until they understand what they’re picking in general.

The final challenge is the specific solution – us. Our company. Our products, our services, our people. This is where marketers are most comfortable, because we love to talk about ourselves. But you can see that talking about ourselves is only appropriate once someone has made it through the first three steps. If someone doesn’t know they have a problem, or they don’t know the impact of the problem, or they don’t know a solution category exists, then our marketing is going to fall on deaf ears. We may as well market to our customers’ pets for all the good it will do. Now, that said, if you can’t convey the benefits of your products and services as the specific solution which provides clarity on the general solution, then that’s where you need to tune up your messaging.

If the bottom of your funnel is thinner than it should be, then you need to work on the marketing around your specific solution. It’s a sign that you haven’t figured that out if you’re losing to named competitors all the time – the customer understands the problem, the impact, and the general solution but they didn’t pick you as the specific solution.

That’s PIGS. Problem, impact, general solution, specific solution. Here’s where marketers fall down: they don’t understand where in the PIGS framework their biggest issues are. If you go through the framework and you find that your customers are getting lost at impact, but all your marketing campaigns are focused on your specific solution, then you’re going to see terrible results.

Your marketing campaigns should always have elements of each of the PIGS stages in market. You should be educating about the problem. You should be explaining the impact. You should be walking through the general solution. And for people who make it that far, your efforts to help them, to provide them value, should make you the obvious choice as the specific solution unless your product or service is a wildly bad fit.

Even better, if you know where your customers are in the PIGS framework, you can tailor marketing and communications messages to them. How can you learn this? Well, the easiest way is to ask them and listen carefully to their answers while NOT pushing your products and services. Remember, you can’t skip to you as the specific solution if the customer hasn’t gone through the previous stages, any more than you can skip to being happily married for 20 years without actually living through those two decades.

That’s PIGS. Bring it into your own marketing as a diagnostic to understand where you’re falling down and how you could do better.

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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it

Besides the new Google Analytics 4 course I’m relentlessly promoting (sorry not sorry), I would recommend the piece on pumpkin spice data analytics. It’s a really important lesson on how social media is changing.

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What I’m Reading: Your Stuff

Let’s look at the most interesting content from around the web on topics you care about, some of which you might have even written.

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Advertisement: Catch My Upcoming Free Webinar!

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In our upcoming webinar, Bringing out the humanity in your marketing data, I’ll walk you through the process of data analysis, and how to use that data to deliver on the promise of amazing content experiences for everyone.

Join Siteimprove CMO Kevin Bobowski and me for more on:

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Events I’ll Be At

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Required Disclosures

Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.

Thank You!

Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.

See you next week,

Christopher S. Penn


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