Show The Math

In Short
Marketing today is more about showing our math than promoting our answer. By turning our company inside out, sharing what we do, how we do it and the results, we bring people along, build trust and allow people to buy into the answer.

Math class was never supposed to be about the right answer; it was always about the journey to the right answer. Our math teachers* pushed us to do long division and show the steps of Pythagoras’s Theorem so they could accompany us in our thinking. They could see each step of our process and validate the right formula was used correctly. The answer was simply the result.

This is exactly how marketing works today. The only caveat is there is no one formula or one right answer. There are 7.5 billion unique ways of seeing and experiencing the world and a growing freedom to choose the answer that’s right for each of us. Try walking over to the beverage cooler at a Whole Foods to experience how many answers there are to, “I’m thirsty, what do I want to drink?”

In the past it was enough to boast we have the best answer. We could simply shout to the masses that our answer is 20% better than the popular brand or 20% better than our previous answer. But people have been trained not to trust answers anymore. So we are left with 7.5 billion people who have to figure it out for themselves. 7.5 billion people who need to figure out if our formula is right for them and worth the price.

But who has time for that? Who has time to evaluate and validate if every product and service aligns with our world view of how things should be done? This challenge that the marketer faces, this obstacle to adoption, is the opportunity to cultivate loyalty.

If we can find the right group of people out of those 7.5 billion prospects, if we can share with them our math and show that our solution works, they will stop looking for other answers because they will know they have arrived at the correct answer… for them. They will become loyal customers with no promotional incentive needed.

How then do we show our math to busy people?

  1. Find our tribe
    We don’t need everyone; we just need to find the right ones. If we take the customers we have today and understand them, we can model what we know about them to find others. This is what makes ecommerce and digital marketing so powerful as a standalone business or part of a multi-channel strategy.
  2. Educate simply
    When prospective customers are shopping, we have a moment of their attention in which they are open to learning. This is our chance to quickly and simply educate them on how and why we created this unique product or service and the unique benefits of those decisions. There’s the math!
  3. Tell stories
    We share our math through stories. Everyone has time for a story; just ask the folks at Netflix or Instagram. Stories can take many forms: blog posts, customer reviews, videos, photos, etc. And topics can range from the making of, to case studies, to scientific research, and on and on.

    And showing the math not only works for selling products or services, it works for selling ideas, projects and change at the office or at home. The principles and steps are all the same; 1) We don’t need everyone, 2) We need to educate simply and quickly, and 3) A good story will stick.

While most of us don’t use 90% of the math we learned in school, the principles behind learning math and science are instrumental in driving action and change.

*My mom was a math teacher, and because of that we never simply received an answer from her; we always got the whole equation. While it was mind-numbing as a teenager, I now ––as an adult and a much less narcissistic human–– see it as invaluable.

Also published on Medium.

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