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The Right Marketing Programs and Budgets for Heavy Scrutiny Offerings
(Marketing Memo, August, 2006)

Do you offer what Kristin Zhivago calls "Heavy Scrutiny"* items or "high-ticket tangible products and services"? A few examples of Heavy Scrutiny items are "sophisticated software programs, business systems… advertising in online and offline media, and complicated medical devices." Selling Heavy Scrutiny items is tricky as buyers ask endless questions, consult others, change their minds, delay purchases, or buy from a competitor.

Different types of offerings have different buying cycles, prices, and target markets, and each type of offering should follow a different marketing model. Zhivago recommends that marketers decide whether they sell Light, Moderate, Heavy, or Intense Scrutiny offerings and then develop a suitable marketing model and budget.

Marketers of Heavy Scrutiny offerings should:

--- Map out the buying process. Marketers should interview customers/prospects to identify questions and prepare answers to the questions that arise throughout the process. One reason that buyers ask so many questions is they have previously bought Heavy Scrutiny products that didn't work or didn't interconnect with existing technology platforms.
--- Use web sites and sales presentations to respond to the buyer's underlying question: "What will happen to me after I make this purchase?"
--- Identify "trigger points" in the sales process, and explore what they can do at trigger points to make a sale more likely.
-- Properly fund the entire marketing and sales process.

As generating awareness costs more than answering questions, Zhivago recommends that sellers of Heavy Scrutiny products invest 40% of their marketing budgets in generating awareness and getting people to try the product. They should spend another 30% on their web sites and on answering questions, plus 15% to provide sales people with sufficient selling tools.

Allocating Marketing Resources When Selling Heavy Scrutiny Products

Heavy Scrutiny Products
Marketing Expenditures % of Mktg. Budget
Generating awareness 40%
Web site/Answering questions 30%
Selling and closing tools 15%
Ongoing customer contact 10%
Monitoring/measuring the results of marketing and sales campaigns 5%



We can help you conduct qualitative studies that will help you understand what customers want to know, find out why customers bought, and explore other issues related to the buying process. Knowing why customers bought is more important than knowing which ad got them to buy, according to Zhivago.

*K. Zhivago, Rivers of Revenue: What to do when the money stops flowing, Smokin' Donut Books, 2004.

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