Resonate or Be Irrelevant


Tim J. Smith, PhD
Founder and CEO, Wiglaf Pricing

Published October 1, 2006

Effective sales and marketing messages resonate with customers like tuning forks resonate with guitar strings. Each excites the intended party while leaving the rest of the world untouched, and accelerates the process towards mutual satisfaction.

Tune in to Resonate

Tuning forks are engineered to emit a specific note. If you strike the tuning fork and place it on the guitar, the specific string that is tuned to the same frequency as the tuning fork will automatically begin to vibrate. All other strings will ignore the tuning fork. Moreover, you can make that specific string vibrate stronger by adjusting the tuning key on the headstock until the string is perfectly in resonance with the tuning fork. Once in resonance, the tuning fork and the guitar string will vibrate and sing in perfect unison.

In the same way, sales and marketing must engineer their message to match the specific excitation frequency of their prospects, and then adjust it to increase their excitement for the offer.

Excite and Convert

A truly resonating sales and marketing message will do two things. (1) It will address the interests of good prospects with relevant information while bypassing the rest. (2) It will make these good prospects seek further information, thus converting them along their buying process towards being better customers.

Why are we interested attracting only good prospects while bypassing the rest? Because sales and marketing functions are performance oriented and activities are only useful if they contribute to performance. When an offer is not relevant to a prospect, that prospect isn’t going to buy, and therefore sales and marketing team should not expend tremendous effort trying to change their mind. Instead, the sales and marketing team benefits from communicating a resonating sales and marketing message, enabling the right customers to become excited, and thus engaging only qualified customers in their buying process.

Qualified customers will want to seek further information. Once a resonating message has struck a chord with a customer, that customer will become excited, seeking more information to determine the quality of the fit between the offer and their specific business needs. In this sense, converting an uninterested prospect into an excited prospect by simply communicating the right sales and marketing message is like taking a guitar string from rest to resonance simply by striking the right tuning fork and placing it on the guitars soundboard.

Understand Customer Needs

Developing a resonating message remains to be the tricky part. In Hawks, Seagulls, and Mice, two paradigms useful in developing a resonating message are explored. These are the Customer Buying Process and the Customer Value Map. When these approaches are used in conjunction, sales and marketing people have a firm foundation for creating a resonating sales and marketing message. But both of these paradigms rely upon something more valuable: understanding customer needs.

The primacy of the need to understand customer demands has been, and continues to be, a driving force behind the advances in sales and marketing. Sales and marketing must understand customers, their needs, the way they think, and the best way to engage them in a dialogue concerning mutual value attainment. Market segmentation, price variance management, marketing communications, and several other marketing functions rely upon this kind of understanding. Solution selling, consultative selling, organizational selling, large account management, and other sales methodologies also rely upon understanding customer needs. In this sense, both best practices in sales and those in marketing are highlighting the primacy of understanding customers.

For marketers, understanding customer needs means market research, which of course is based upon questions that are asked of customers about their needs. For salespeople, understanding customer needs means that their sales methodology will require salespeople to pose questions concerning prospects needs.

For both, understanding customers, through either market research or through question driven sales methodologies, is the key to creating a resonating sales and marketing message, one which excites good prospects towards buying and removes bad prospects from the sphere of concerns. G-Sharp anyone?

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About The Author

Tim J. Smith, PhD, is the founder and CEO of Wiglaf Pricing, an Adjunct Professor of Marketing and Economics at DePaul University, and the author of Pricing Done Right (Wiley 2016) and Pricing Strategy (Cengage 2012). At Wiglaf Pricing, Tim leads client engagements. Smith’s popular business book, Pricing Done Right: The Pricing Framework Proven Successful by the World’s Most Profitable Companies, was noted by Dennis Stone, CEO of Overhead Door Corp, as "Essential reading… While many books cover the concepts of pricing, Pricing Done Right goes the additional step of applying the concepts in the real world." Tim’s textbook, Pricing Strategy: Setting Price Levels, Managing Price Discounts, & Establishing Price Structures, has been described by independent reviewers as “the most comprehensive pricing strategy book” on the market. As well as serving as the Academic Advisor to the Professional Pricing Society’s Certified Pricing Professional program, Tim is a member of the American Marketing Association and American Physical Society. He holds a BS in Physics and Chemistry from Southern Methodist University, a BA in Mathematics from Southern Methodist University, a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Chicago, and an MBA with high honors in Strategy and Marketing from the University of Chicago GSB.