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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistThu, Jun 16, 2016 9 min read

A New Inbound Marketing Messaging Model Improves Conversion Rates

Status Quo Is The Enemy Of Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing Disrupts The Status QuoI know everyone wants to jump into blogging, landing pages, websites and content, but the secret to successful lead generation doesn’t start with the tactics. It starts with the messaging. For years, our messaging model was simple: Identify a pain, present a solution, make the solution remarkable and validate with social proof.

But recently, we learned that this model is missing a very important piece – in fact, it’s missing the most important piece, the piece that has to come first. Disruption of the status quo is critical for getting people to make a change and try something different. Without this disruption, it’s too easy for people to dismiss your message and continue their current path – no matter how ineffective that path is.

It’s safer to keep doing what’s not working than to try something new. We’re fighting against human nature, but as marketers, our job is to create messages that move people to action.

Here’s how you can disrupt a prospect’s status quo and move them to action.

Why Disruption Works

It’s important to understand why you need to disrupt before you start telling your story. The human brain is designed to keep us safe: It makes us risk-averse to protect us. In the day of the caveman, it helped us find a shelter where we could be safe from dangerous animals and warned us not to touch the fire that would burn our hands.

Our brains work the same way today. No matter what you say, your prospects are trying to find reasons NOT to consider your product or service. You tell them about your services and they think, “That sounds like what we’re already doing. We don’t need that.”

But if you work a little harder to make them feel that what they’re currently doing is wrong, that it will present challenges in the future or that it might even put their business in jeopardy, you’ve gotten their attention. The goal of good marketing messaging is to get a prospect’s attention.

Recent Research Shows

A lot of people won’t believe you, but they will believe third-party data sources. The more credible the source, the more likely they will be to believe it. Here are some examples:

  • Gartner reported that, on average, seven people are involved in a typical B2B purchase decision.
  • Harvard Business Review reported that 90% of decision-makers never respond to cold outreach such as calls, emails or mailings.
  • IDC reported that 75% of buyers use social media to reach potential suppliers, vendors or partners.

Those are pretty compelling statistics. You might not believe me when I tell you the world of marketing has changed and you’re still using outdated tactics, but you might believe Gartner, Harvard Business Review and IDC.

FUD – Fear, Uncertainty And Doubt

If you do nothing, you might put yourself in a precarious position. If you continue to do what you’ve been doing, your competition might pass you by, you might not hit your revenue goals, you might get fired. These are the thoughts you want prospects to have, but you want to be adept at planting the seeds that produce these thoughts.

To return to the caveman example, the idea of moving from one cave to a new cave only becomes important when your safety is threatened in your current cave. You don’t want to move; you have to move. Part of how you encourage your prospects to make a move is to help them see that their current situation is precarious.

Not every message has to be scary. Another way to get the same outcome is to help your prospect see how amazing it’s going to be once they get to the new cave. Once they buy your product or service, the sun will come out and everyone will rejoice. The upside has to outweigh the concerns associated with switching. The new normal has to be so remarkable that they overlook their concerns about the change.

This can be a monumental challenge, since our brains are designed to discount the future, but good messaging and solid storytelling can paint a compelling picture. Understanding your prospect's concerns and addressing them one by one is core to an effective sales effort. Make sure you have sales and marketing aligned when it comes to this type of message delivery.


Speaking of stories, they’re critical. If you’re talking features and benefits, product details or service configurations, you’re speaking the wrong language. You need to be telling stories if you want to engage your prospects. Here’s a quick article from Fast Company on why our brains crave stories.  

I could rattle off facts and figures detailing the features of our services and you’d probably remember 10% of what I talked about. But if I tell you a story about a company like yours with a CEO like you who had similar challenges; support it with outside data points; describe how our program worked; and wrap up with how the program contributed to the company’s growth – you’d have a simple, easy-to-remember story that will bounce around in your head for days. 

As you work on your marketing strategy, you need to produce an inventory of these stories for every scenario, every situation and every possible prospect touch point. Creating these stories takes time – it’s part art and part science – but they become the basis for website pages, educational content, sales emails, presentations, webinars, email marketing and social media. In essence, they fuel the inbound marketing program for months and months.

This is why we think the creation of these stories is so important, and why, when inbound marketing programs fail, nine times out of ten it’s because these stories were never created as part of the strategy-and-planning phase of the inbound program. Don’t skip the messaging part of inbound strategy creation, and make sure the messages are complete with stories that move your prospects out of their comfort zone and toward taking action with your company.

Start Today Tip – You can quickly see if you have these status-quo-busting stories or not. Does your marketing lead with this? Do your salespeople start their stories with this effort to disrupt? I’m guessing the answer is no. If that’s the case, then you need to take the time to think through how you want to move your prospects out of their comfort zone. You want to gently package this information into stories and start using them as part of a test. Your first effort might not work out, but be diligent and continue to adjust your stories until you press the right buttons in the perfect sequence. Once you find the right formula, you’ll have the ability to press your prospect’s "buy" button, and sales will become a no-brainer.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.