Evaluating Commercial Impact from 4 Marketing Efforts

by Orrin Broberg, on May, 24, 2019

Brent Adamson kicked off the Gartner Marketing Symposium 2019 with the preface that the story he’s sharing isn’t a marketing story, but a buying story. We’ve all heard the adage that it’s not about us, but about our customers, but Gartner/CEB research puts a new spin on it in relation to how much help buyers need from vendors because of how much their world is changing.

Adamson reviewed four marketing efforts with pointers about their impact to guide marketers where to focus to generate the most incremental value.

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1. Personalization

The question Gartner asked in this research:

What kinds of investment do we need to make to create and build better, more relevant outreach to consumers that drives commercial returns?

When asked what they thought a vendor intended when sending a personalized communication, two camps emerged in the responses.

The first group responded that the brand was trying to prove they knew them. In other words, the brand was trying to demonstrate that they knew who the consumer was, what they’ve done and what’s important to them. The message was based on the establishment of the idea that “we’re all in this together and we’ve got your back.”

The second group responded that they thought the brand intended to help them. The responders defined this as the brand wanting to make things easier for them, reassure them, or teach them something new. These communications were more prescriptive and along the lines of what Gartner defines as Tailored Help.

But here’s the difference for marketers to understand. When you try to prove you know someone without helping them, your communications will drive a negative return, hurting your chances of commercial benefit.

However, if your communications focus on helping them—even if you don’t prove you know them—you gain a 16% higher probability of creating commercial benefit. This means that Tailored Help will impact brand intent, likelihood of purchase, make repurchase for existing customers more likely, as well as an increase in deal size.

2. B2B Content Marketing

The question Gartner asked in this research:

What kind of marketing content accelerates the purchase of a complex solution?

Gartner research into content marketing found the following dynamics about B2B buying:

  • People: Buying committees now include 6 – 10 people (or more) of which all have a say, all must agree, and all have veto power. This is a diverse group with differing objectives, perspectives and responsibilities.
  • Content: Each stakeholder on the buying committee accesses from four to five content assets which they access on their own. This means when they get together, each has a different perspective and belief about the problem they’re solving, as well as how to solve it.
  • Conflict: During the course of buying, 15% of time is spent trying to deconflict information. This adds up to a lot of time during a long buying process that can go on for a year or more.
  • Difficulty: 77% of buyers report high levels of purchase difficulty and that the process is overwhelming.

What does this all add up to? Adamson shared a story where he asked a room of CMOs to summarize their last buying experience in one word. He recounted that one CMO stood up and said as one word:


But, seriously, the reason this matters is that when buying is this difficult, the status quo or “good enough” will win. This conflict, frustration and overwhelm is why deals end in no decision.

As in what the research found about personalization, if your content helps to make this process easier, helps them to advance, you’re able to influence the likelihood of purchase ease by 2.8X. As Adamson says, “You get paid for that kind of help.”

Even better, your customers will be 3X more likely to end up with a high-value, low-regret deal.

3. Customer Experience

The question Gartner asked in this research:

What customer experience investments have the most positive impact on customer loyalty and retention?

Gartner set out to find out if there were touchpoints that really mattered. According to Adamson, they tested about 50 different touchpoints in the exploration to see what works.

What they found is that there are diminishing returns to increasing investment in the customer experience. At some point you reach good enough and don’t get rewarded for better. Adamson concluded that most of us have already made it.

This said, the research found that Product Experience will impact loyalty differently than the experience with the company. When focusing on customer experience, your commercial benefits will be higher if you figure out which product experiences have the most impact and work on improving those to grow loyalty.

Look at the spectrum of product experience and determine which things make your customers feel like they made the right choice. Which functions or features improve the way they feel about themselves (not your company) and which give them the confidence that they can meet their goals?

Gartner concludes that commercial impact from the product experience is about self-affirmation.

4. Corporate Branding

The question Gartner asked in this research:

What corporate brand positioning yields the greatest connection with the brand?

This research found that a high brand connection increases customer willingness to pay a premium by 64%, where only 14% of customers with a low brand connection are willing to pay a premium.

Two drivers of brand connection:

  • Authentic Values: The brand cares about the same things its customers do, respects their values and traditions. This is a shared values approach that we’re all in this together.
  • Personal Benefits: The brand helps customers achieve their goals, helps them feel better about themselves.

Overwhelmingly, the brands that focus on providing personal benefits to customers wins over the brands focused on authentic values.

Gartner research finds that consumer values that have risen the most are inclusion, safety, balance, security and serenity. Adamson says that what they find the most is that secure comfort is the attribute rising the most. This reflects customers saying, “I need help.”

The best way for us to build stronger relationships with our customers is to help them build better relationships with themselves. This means that marketers need to understand them, their world, their aspirations and frustrations—irrespective of our brand.

Put Your Investment in Efforts to Help

As you read through the research into these four marketing efforts, the obvious trend is that marketers will have the most impact on commercial benefits if they focus on tailored help, self-affirmation and personal benefits.

The research shows that the impact from this focus can be high. It’s time to look at the investments we’re making and have already made to determine how we can redirect or improve the help that we’re providing to our prospects and customers.


Topics:Buyer AlignmentBuyer Conversations