Gartner Offers Marketers a 4-Step Success Plan

How to best sell a smartphone? A data center? A new Gartner report offers four steps for marketing success. In a nutshell: Tell a crisp, compelling story that leaves a lasting impression.

Gartner has some advice for business leaders and brand managers struggling to get their points across. In a new report, the research firm-which says it gleaned the advice from marketing executives and professors at leading MBA schools-offers four steps toward more effective marketing strategies.

The goal, states Gartner, is to present a crisp, compelling story that leaves a lasting impression. Achieving it is as simple as following four steps.

"Visit any Website and you'll quickly see lists of product features, functions and capabilities," Gartner Research Director Richard Fouts said in an Aug. 12 statement. "While features and capabilities are relevant buying criteria, marketers substitute this style of communication for good stories. We tend to remember a good story, even years after we've heard it. We tend to forget lists of bullet points."

Step one, shirking the classic storytelling model, is to "end with the story." By presenting the most compelling business outcome from the start, customers are motivated to listen to what comes next.

Step two, then, is to "flesh out your value proposition." This is the part where the story gets developed, defended and explained more exactly, whether with customer testimonials, third-party statements or what Gartner calls "credible truths."

"Buyers say they are three times more likely to buy when the provider's value proposition is quantified," Fouts said in the statement, following his own advice. "Moreover, when asked to rank the marketing activities that influence them most, buyers named customer success stories and reference selling. Effective marketers use these findings to help make their stories more unique and memorable."

Also helpful is to pepper in independent observations of trustworthy third parties. For example, states the report, IBM, in supporting its argument for reducing power in data centers, cites data from the U.S. government's independent studies on energy.

Step three, now that the customer is convinced and poised to act, is to "finish with a call to action." The common mistake at this point is to default to the suggestion that customers take a look at the company's Website. Instead, says Gartner, think through the action you'd really like the customer to take and suggest a more specific action.

"If the market is including stories in a proposal, they might urge their prospect to have a personal conversation with the reference story they've included," writes Gartner. "If marketers are using stories to keep existing customers engaged, they might push them to their rewards program, or download content that is exclusive only to current customers."

In working to build stronger marketing strategies, Gartner additionally suggests- step four-building a "story scrapbook," or a place to store ideas and stories that might someday come in handy.

"At some point," said Fouts, "the marketer can analyze why they think stories are good but it is always a good rule to save any sample stories they believe can help them later on, when they need it most."

Is there a real-life example-step one-playing out in public these days? During Motorola's July 29 earnings call, CEO Sanjay Jha said Motorola would continue to include its MotoBlur user interface on devices but had decided to stop emphasizing the name of the technology.

"We have found that being able to convey the value proposition around MotoBlur is not an easy thing to do in a 30-second ad spot," Jha told participants on the call. Instead, he said, Motorola would focus on the value proposition of its devices.

The Motorola Droid 2 went on sale Aug. 10. Marketers may want to note how the figures compare to the Droid's first, MotoBlur-emphasized go-around.