Turning importance into action

My favorite behavioral economist, Dan Ariely, likes to say, “We are all wonderful people in the future.” We’ve seen that bear out repeatedly in our research and actual campaign work – the percentage of people who say they’ll do a thing is ALWAYS significantly higher than the percentage who actually do that thing. Thankfully, we’ve been at this for so long that we’re literally able to apply a reasonable “BS factor” to our propensity numbers as we assess actual market opportunity for our clients.

But that still begs the question: what do you do when data indicates a real interest in more sustainable or efficient products and services, but behaviors don’t line up? How do you convert that interest into action?

You get in the middle of it and connect the dots for your clients/customers.

Take a look at one of the key findings from our 2015 B2B Pulse study:

Decision makers don't always act on their stated priorities.

The gray bars on the right represent how important business decision-makers think each of the tested items is as it relates to building performance. The blue bars on the left represent how often each of those tested items actually makes it into construction plans. The lighting industry’s doing pretty well in terms of action mirroring importance … but every other industry, not so much.

This list actually spans three different graphs and the story doesn’t get any better … decision-makers repeatedly say various aspects of building performance are more important than is reflected in what actually makes it into construction plans.

So, you could dial your marketing goals down and dub the available market to be the number that actually makes it into construction plans … or you could tackle the discrepancy in both your sales and marketing efforts, and grow the available market. Here’s how:

  1. Ensure that your marketing efforts address everyone in the value chain – essentially everyone who can “value engineer” your more efficient/sustainable product out of the construction plan. Your decision-maker may be a purchasing person or a facilities manager … but your marketing needs to also speak to architects, engineers and other specifiers to ensure you make it into the plan from the beginning. And your call to action in your marketing efforts should literally ask people to “add this to your construction plans.”
  2. In the sales process, literally talk with your decision-maker about this discrepancy. Tell him/her that data indicates the more efficient/sustainable products are often deemed important but don’t make it into construction plans, which means they don’t actually wind up in the building. Collaborate with that person – make him/her your champion – to figure out how to close the gap.

Bottom line: don’t let the interest pass you by. Turn that interest into action by addressing it head-on, and grow the market opportunity for your category. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats.



Posted on

June 8, 2015

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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