A New Chapter Begins. My Story...

A New Chapter Begins. My Story...
Photo by NEOM / Unsplash

After 20 years in marketing at various companies, I’m striking out on my own. To be honest it’s a bit scary, with lots of unknowns and pressures, in particular to create my own revenue stream. But it’s also exciting, a unique challenge, and something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. The nature of work is evolving, and moving towards a more remote, fractional, global, asynchronous, and freelance labor force, and I am excited to play a part in it.

I’ve always been employed at companies run by someone else, working hard at whatever task was put in front of me, but I’ve also had an itch to do my own thing, and be my own boss. Well I’m finally scratching that itch, starting with a consulting company, where I can exercise my skills on a wider variety of industries (most of my career has been in healthcare), meet some new people, and work on new products. The underlying principles of product marketing don’t really change, but the environments in which those principles are deployed seems to be changing everyday, and I look forward to seeing how I can help companies in other industries.

One market dynamic that I’ve been observing is the acceleration of time. Of course time has not literally gone faster, but media these days is playing out in shorter and shorter timeframes. TV commercials used to be 60 seconds, now pre-roll ads on Youtube can be 5 seconds. Promoted posts on social media can be swiped away in milliseconds. Young people are processing what they see on screen faster than their parents ever will. The sheer processing speed of our brains is accelerating.

And this presents a unique conundrum for marketers. If the pace of decision processing is now counted in milliseconds, how will companies promote their products in such a way that customers are willing to be stopped and encouraged to find out more? You are now competing against every distractive media entertainment under the sun, on a tiny screen, in the hands of impatient viewers who have become addicted to scrolling instead of digesting.

From this challenge I’ve been forming a thesis that is the basis of my consulting work -- that it’s more important than ever to make the right first impression. Of course the “you only get one chance to make a first impression” axiom has always been true, but in today’s market environment, the need to get that first impression right has become paramount. Customers form opinions in milliseconds, making microscopic judgments about your offering, even with incomplete information. Simply being unclear about what you do is enough to be swept away, even if what you do might be of value to them if they were only willing to dwell a little longer and explore just a little more.

When someone has clicked on your ad, picked up your brochure, or visited your website, you immediately have to explain yourself, and convince the visitor they should stay, and invest their precious time in trying to see if there’s a match between what you have to offer, and what they might need. Poorly positioned, confusing messaging that fails to explain the value proposition at this stage can be deadly. Once people have invested that time to investigate, and found your offering lacking, or worse yet, confusing, the decision will have been made, and there is no point in ever visiting again. The customer is lost.

And here is where the “1 Second Marketing™” framework comes into play. In the past you might’ve been able to phase out the classic stages of marketing, raise awareness, seek consideration, explain the offering, encourage investigation, close the sale, etc. but today all these disciplines and stages of the customer journey have been compressed into the first second of exposure. In other words, you need to demonstrate your segmentation, targeting, positioning, messaging, value proposition, and branding all at once, with as much immediacy as possible.

This is something I have built some skills in -- the distillation of multiple marketing disciplines as applied to a company or product, and condensing them down into their simplest possible expression. That expression could be a tagline, a name, an explanatory graphic, a logo, a visual, or all of the above combined together.

If you are launching a new company or product, this type of exercise comes in particularly handy. Doing it wrong can result in visitors bouncing off your site, sales team struggling to explain their offering's value with potential customers, and at worst, failure to find product-market fit. Getting it right can result in nodding heads, faster sales cycles, less explaining, and recognition that your offering is exactly what the doctor ordered to solve some customer pain point.

Let’s talk, and see how I might assist you in making that first second of exposure as good as it can be.

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