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What McDonald’s Teaches Us About Engagement

September 6th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

A recent McDonald’s commercial for coffee got me thinking about how best to engage prospects.   The comments on YouTube about this commercial were highly derogatory, saying that the guy is a jerk (to put it mildly).  What they fail to realize is that it is brilliant; this is how engagement marketing works.

The man in the commercial is focused on getting his morning coffee and nothing else.  He dismisses everyone, including the cashier at McDonald’s, until he is presented with his coffee. The coffee guy represents everyone you want to talk to, whether you are targeting consumers or businesses.  He doesn’t want to hear anything else until he gets his coffee, just like prospects don’t hear anything from you that isn’t relevant either.

Marketing and sales people often approach people in all the wrong ways.  They only think about themselves and what they want to accomplish, rather than thinking about what is going on in the mind of their prospect.   People in general mostly care only about what is going on in their life, how they feel, what they need to accomplish and what they need in order to do that.  In order to reach people and present what you have to offer, you first have to try to understand those things for them.  After you determine that, in order to get their attention, you need strong value propositions.

Here are a couple of examples of bad approaches.  In this voice mail rcvm128_2010082508395100, Jennifer doesn’t clearly articulate what company she’s with and simply says she “has a couple of questions.”  She’s only thinking of herself, what she wants to know to move her sales process forward, and doesn’t state any compelling value proposition to entice me.  In this voice mail rcvm128_2010082515292500, Kirby says what he specializes in, lead generation and appointment setting, and does give somewhat of a value proposition but it is very weak: to “expand your client base in getting clients.”  Again, it’s mostly focused on himself.  So what can we do to better position ourselves, and not be a Jennifer or Kirby?  Take the time to do your market research and be thoughtful in the way you present your information.

If targeting consumers, you can read secondary research or do a custom survey to find out what’s important to them so you can be relevant.  You can also test your marketing messages before investing a ton of money in various media  (as aside, I work in market research at C.A. Walker if you need assistance in this area).

If targeting businesses, you can evaluate the people you are trying to reach by studying job postings for all the titles.  Print a bunch of them (Indeed.com works great for this) and create profiles for each.  You need to understand their responsibilities, their involvement in decision making, who else may be involved (target them all), their measures (metrics) of success, and their business drivers.  Then study the company looking at their website, articles, investor reports and presentations.  You should be able to pick up from these resources their current plans and issues in order to craft relevant messages.  You may also want to conduct your own survey to better understand these people and test your messages as insurance that you’re doing the right thing (as aside, C.A. Walker can also target specific business titles in surveys).

To create marketing ROI, you have to have the mindset that you are there to serve others.  The more you can understand your targets’ current needs and stop focusing on yours, the better.  Like the coffee man, you must try to insert yourself at the moment that they have a need (“I can give you coffee!”).  Good value propositions help people see that you understand them and can help them achieve their measure of success or fulfill their need, while focused on their issue (“I know you really need your morning coffee.  I can give it to you cheaper than Starbucks and it’s convenient!”).

It is a bit of a guessing game, but if you did a good job on your research it is likely you found many issues that you can address.  I suggest trying to find 10 things you can talk about.  You can then contact your target with 10 different value propositions over a period of 4 to 6 weeks.  If you did this right, something should “hit” because it’s what they are dealing with.  If none do, then you can move on and come back to them in a month or so when you have something else you can talk about.  You may also come across articles that relate to them, which you can share to help them stay on top of trends in their industry.  The best part of this technique is that you never have to feel like you’re bothering someone, contacting them multiple times, because you are offering them value that is targeted to what you’ve learned about their needs.

Your Turn:

What are your ideas for marketers and sales people to be more engaging?




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  1. Shankaran Chettur
    September 6th, 2010 at 23:57 | #1

    A very good article with the right example quoted, which is a must read for all those in sales who primarily interacts with the clients.

  2. Luis Quesada
    September 7th, 2010 at 10:20 | #2

    Many people and companies act as the man of coffee in front of their customers and competition. They do not listen or care what they want.

  3. Cece
    September 7th, 2010 at 11:59 | #3

    So true!

    I have had lots of voicemails from reps saying “I would love to meet with you,” apparently not understanding I need reasons why I should meet with them that can justify carving time out of my deadline crunch, and that they’d love it just isn’t enough.

    I’m afraid many marketers assume that their mission IS precisely to bother someone and that the botheree is supposed to learn to like it–or else to hate it and submit anyway. Why they would do this is not explained.

  4. September 7th, 2010 at 12:58 | #4

    Really an excellent reminder of the background work needed to understand what constitutes value to the customer. The bane of sales work is the sense of bothering people, which, of course, they won’t be if we are offering value they recognize.

  5. Cece
    September 7th, 2010 at 13:06 | #5

    And I hasten to add, Bob, that the good reps let me know that they had something to show me that I could really use in the plan I was in the midst of putting together.

  6. September 7th, 2010 at 17:12 | #6

    Love your perspective on the McDonald’s commercial! You’re absolutely right. All marketers should look at that guy as their customer. To reach him, you have to be relevant and give him what he needs, otherwise he won’t listen. Excellent point. Succinctly put. Nice job!

  7. Mark Stevens
    September 13th, 2010 at 05:43 | #7

    Thanks so much! I really enjoyed seeing clear examples of the process. I plan to share this information with the rest of the company which is a new startup.

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