Why the status quo is business development's worst enemy
People are creatures of habit: We're wired to keep doing what has worked in the past, be it by buying the same brands, making the same lifestyle choices, or repeating the same thought process.
Maintaining the status quo is great for B2B businesses that want to retain market share but not for companies that want to grow. To get new customers, you have to overcome inertia (the most powerful force in the universe?) and get prospects and leads to leave the comfort zone of business as usual. To accomplish this, you have to know when, where, and how to disrupt the status quo.
The status quo bias
Few people go out of their way to change what works for them—even if there are better opportunities elsewhere. When, for example, was the last time you changed banks?
Our preference for the status quo is just one of many cognitive biases that influence our behaviour. Everything else being equal, we prefer that things stay as they are, that the current state of affairs remains the same. This bias affects all kinds of human behaviour, whether it’s interpersonal, political, or economic. And it’s particularly vexing for those with business development responsibilities.
Why you should disrupt buyers’ status quo bias
Offering a superior product or service may not be enough to convince buyers to leave their current vendor. To woo new customers, you must also overcome their innate preference not to change even if everything changes—that is, to continue working with the same products, services, and people as usual.
The old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is especially difficult to overcome when buyers do not realise there’s something that works even better—and are too set in their ways to consider an alternative solution.
This is where it becomes critical for businesses to disrupt buyers’ established patterns of thought. Those that meet this challenge stand to get new business and, eventually, benefit from status quo bias from their new and existing customers.
How to overcome ’business as usual’
To disrupt status quo bias, you have to find ways to shake up the ’business as usual’ practices of prospective customers. Typically, this means challenging preconceptions about the opportunity costs of seeking alternatives to their tried-and-true vendors. The best way to do this is by combining thought-provoking content marketing, authoritative thought leadership, and consistent messaging.
Publish the right content
Provocative, emotive, and insight-driven content can capture your customers’ attention—especially if you’re sharing hard truths about what they might be missing by not shopping around.
Your message has to do more than grab your readers’ attention, however. You also have to provide tangible information and takeaways for people to consider rationally. This can take the form of breaking the news on evolving industry trends, examining internal or external pressures, or revealing the consequences of sticking to the ’as-is’ out of convenience and habit.
Raising awareness of risk makes for particularly effective content. The most compelling reason to reconsider an established pattern is the prospect of risk or financial harm. If you can convince your readers that their status quo bias may hurt their operations or chances of success, you’re likely to capture meaningful attention—the first step to additional leads and sales.
Speak with an authoritative voice backed up by facts
It’s not enough for businesses to speak with authority—they must also be able to back up their claims through credible, authoritative information and evidence. Compelling copy should be based on hard data and thorough research. Consider what kind of studies you could either conduct or fund a third party to execute. Publishing net-new data demonstrates your business’ depth of knowledge within your industry. What is more, if you pitch your findings effectively, they may get you media attention, too.
In addition to producing insightful content and data, you should also work to establish executives as thought leaders. This can be done in many ways: blogs, white papers, LinkedIn posts, webinars and other virtual events, interview opportunities with relevant media outlets, or, as we begin meeting again, sharing subject matter expertise at offline conferences and trade shows. The more weight your words carry, the harder it becomes to ignore what you have to say.
Repeat your messaging (the right way)
Businesses have to do more than state a claim or offer insights and then wait for new leads to come rolling in. Rather, you need to think long term and create a drumbeat of information to steer new opportunities your way.
Decision-making takes longer than some business leaders realise or are willing to wait for. That’s why it’s essential to publish and promote content often and to target people at different stages in their buying journeys. Prospective customers enter the marketing funnel when they become aware of your company and value offering. Consideration comes next, leading to actual new clients. Loyalty to your brand follows (and is where status quo bias usually kicks in), and, in the best cases, is demonstrated through advocacy, primarily through word-of-mouth marketing.
Since status quo bias occurs deep into the funnel, it will take a substantial amount of content, time, and patience to undo entrenched brand loyalty. It’s not impossible, however.
Shaking up the status quo
No matter how you decide to shake up your buyers’ status quo, the most important things are quality and consistency. It’s taken a while for your prospective customers to develop loyalty to competing offers. It will take both time and effort to develop solid content to turn their attention in your direction. You need to create curiosity within your prospective clients and give them an incentive to work with you instead. High-quality, helpful content facilitates their journey to purchase from a new vendor. When you give prospective customers timely information that encourages them to move from one step of the buying journey to the next, you are on your way to displacing incumbents and winning new customers.
You don’t have to disrupt the status quo all by yourself. CBC’s team of B2B marketing experts can help you size up your opportunities, identify unique selling points, and craft marketing strategies and content that are designed to lure newcomers to your business. Contact us to start a conversation on how we can help.