In the previous chapter, Mark Kuchner shared practical information about how to sell stuff (or just “sell” ideas), but this is not all that has to be said about marketing
In the end, the goal of marketing is about something deeper: long-term, honest working relationships.
You will probably have to adjust to a new definition of marketing here. Here is marketing 2.0 wrapped up in a few paragraphs by the author:
Traditional marketing campaigns from the 1980s and earlier focused more on advertising and pricing: pushing a product out to the masses. There used to be a hard wall between the big companies of the world and their customers, one that dissuaded relationship building-the wall of the television screen. Maybe that's the paradigm most scientists have in mind when they think of marketing. (...)
But when the Internet appeared, a revolution occurred in the business world (...)
Amazon.com, Tripadvisor.com, and Yelp.com began to feature product reviews from consumers, sometimes right on the page where the product was for sale (...) These reviews can often make or break a new product (...)
How can a mere billboard or television commercial convince you to buy what your friend tells you to avoid? Companies realized that in order to succeed, they could no longer just tell people what to buy; they had to join the worldwide conversation about what's good and what's not. Like a real friend, they had to be present, honest, sharing, and personal. The closer and deeper the relationship they could form with their customers, the better.
The author provides a compelling example of what he means by this with the story of TCHO, a chocolate brand that has managed to adapt its supply to the actual demand by directly asking its customers to design the chocolate they would love to eat.
With the example of TCHO in mind, I'd like to talk about relationship building as a new pillar of marketing, and also to offer you some relationship-building tools that I think apply to life of a scientist.
Let's examine these tools. Since the quotations are pretty self-explanatory, I shall interfere as little as possible.
The most important relationship-building tool is simple: you have to be real and authentic (...) you can't use marketing to hide shoddy or dull scientific work (...) You might say that best marketing practices have come into alignment with scientific ethics.
The author also stresses that genuinely caring about the other person is a mandatory part of any relationship.
Maybe you're not familiar with the concept (usually known as “Purchase funnel”) so here we go:
Think of your favorite snack food-and all the people who have ever merely heard of that snack food but never actually tried it. There are customers who see it in a store, and consider buying it. There are customers who eat it regularly. There are even customers who buy it all the time and feed it to their friends. Line all those people up in a row, from the many perspective customers to the few addicts and proselytizers, and you have what's called the "marketing funnel" for this snack food (...) Now imagine everyone in the scientific community lined up in a progression. From the multitudes who don't know you exist to those who have heard of you but are unimpressed. To the small group of colleagues who think highly of you to those few close collaborators and students who are so enthusiastic about you that they would follow you anywhere. That's your marketing funnel as a scientist. And the key to your success. You can think of the rest of the tips in this book as the tips for how to draw people through your marketing funnel.
OK, and so?
[You] need to draw people through your marketing funnel via a series of positive interactions (...) You have to offer something that appeals to customers at every stage of the marketing funnel.
The author provides a few examples of how to achieve this, but, hey... Read the book ;)
We might be smart, but we sure are awkward. Always stuck inside our heads!
Meeting people in person, when you are not an especially extrovert person can prove quite challenging.
Here is one formula for how to greet somebody, adapted from How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships, by Leil Lowndes :
1) Get yourself in the mood by imagining you are greeting a cherished old friend you haven't seen in years.
2) Turn your whole body toward the person.
3) Pause for one second and thoughtfully study the person's eyes.
4) Now smile a big, warm smile
Imagine one day you received a letter in the mail from some company you've never heard of, and the letter asked you to buy their product, and to tell all your friends about how good that product is. Of course, you would throw it in the recycling bin. That's not good marketing. Marketing guru Seth Godin likes to make an analogy between moving a customer down the marketing funnel and the gradual process of courtship between two people. The idea is that when you are building a relationship, you have to take it slowly, one step at a time.
Or in other words... Do not just try to say what you have to say, but listen and respond.
A related piece of business advice is that it helps to chat about topics other than business (...) Any hobby you might have in common is something you can build relationships around.
But the author notices that this might seem a little counterintuitive to scientists as
[This is] one place where the business world and the science world seem to part: In the business world, a relationship starts with small talk, and then shifts to business. In science, the pattern seems to be reversed.
So... Good luck with that!
It might sound obvious, but a gentle reminder every now and again never hurts:
Throwing a party, or going to a party, is a great way to meet people and build relationships.
That can include hosting a conference, of course...
a scientific meeting or conference works the same way. The idea is to make your guests feel special, like they have come to an exciting event.
I had actually never thought of this as a means of building long-term relationships, but I must admit the author has a point.
Everyone of us has experienced being the new person at some point in any given context. Mark Kuchner remembers these situations very well
a few people kept an eye out for me, the new guy. These are people I've never forgotten, and I still refer business to them (...) So now it's my turn: I try to keep an eye out for new people (...) It's not obvious if or when your help will be repaid. But the fundamental theorem of marketing tells us that helping other people is the only way to get what you desire. And it feels good, too.
And here is another good one that I had never thought of either...
When someone does you a favor, that person actually likes you more, afterward, and is more willing to do you further favors. This phenomenon is sometimes called the Benjamin Franklin effect, because Franklin described it in his autobiography: “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.” (...)
If we do a favor for a stranger, we justify this action to ourselves. We tell ourselves a little story: I am a thoughtful person, and my efforts were well spent because I like that person I just helped. The story we tell ourselves is the story we believe. And so we help the story become true.
Again, it's not about being manipulative or anything. But just remembering that in the realm of communication (and not only, in my opinion), being good to each other, for free, pays off in ways you can never foresee.
In the business world, we are used to rejection. Obviously, scientists are not.
The first time many scientists face serious professional rejection is when they fail to get a fellowship or a faculty position. It comes as a shock.
Obviously, the author had to learn the hard way that experience a failure and being a failure a different thing.
When I started applying for jobs in science and started getting rejected, it dredged up memories of being rejected by kids on the playground, rejected by women, rejected by family. The pain just kept going on and on, deeper and deeper, churning into a vortex of self-doubt and frustration.
But he is a fast learner ;)
One of the major lessons of marketing is that if you don't succeed, it doesn't necessarily mean you are bad or mediocre-it just means that you haven't met anyone's particular needs yet, or convinced someone that you are the best person to meet their needs.
And he has even understood how to turn into an asset what he used to think of as a threat:
If you want to go anywhere interesting in life you have to get rejected. It's a function of how ambitious you are. If you are working in a situation where everything you want arrives on a silver platter, you've set your sights too low If you aim higher, you're sometimes going to miss your target. You might even say that successful people succeed because they were able to take risks and face rejection.
Oh, and obviously, he knows what he's talking about
(By the way, the book you are reading now was rejected by sixteen different publishers before the folks at Island Press recognized its potential and inner beauty.)
There are several shades of “no”, not all of them mean that you have to give up :
“No” doesn't always mean “You're a bad person and I hate you forever.” Sometimes, it just means “No thanks, not this time.”
The author, again, seems to be stating the obvious, but I'm sure he's right. After all, we all love it when someone looks at our work and goes “Wow! Nice job, well done!”, don't we?
Maybe inside every one of us there is a two-year-old undergoing potty training, craving a hit of positive feedback for a job well done.
Just giving positive feedback every now and again is probably more important in the scientific world than anywhere else, this is why:
Scientists are generally bad at giving each other praise, fearing perhaps that they might be seen as having low standards, or sucking up, or overcompensating for something (...) And our friends and families often don't understand what we're doing well enough to praise us in proper proportion to our achievements (...) So we're often hurting for positive feedback.
As the author puts it,
It's amazing how time can make a relationship feel deeper.
Again, it might look obvious... But we should all bear in mind that any excuse to keep in contact, is a good excuse :)
I used to think that marketing meant pushing: pushing my ideas outward from my desk to the eyes and ears of the public, pushing through walls of apathy or disbelief (...) Marketing is more about pulling people close to you: attracting and alluring people, bringing them from outside your social circle to inside it, ushering them along from distant stranger to close collaborator.
I love the formulation. It pretty much sums up how marketing has evolved with the age of the web.
Next on the menu: Branding! Stay tuned :)
Category: science communication
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