5 Marketing Paradoxes – And How to Solve Them

5 Marketing Paradoxes – And How to Solve Them

An educational article on marketing strategy from BTS Consulting

Marketing has its share of paradoxes. Below I discuss five of them along with how to solve them.

Pinocchio’s Paradox

But first, do you know Pinocchio’s paradox? Pinocchio’s nose only grows when he lies. So, one day he says, “my nose grows now.” So, if he is telling the truth, his nose should grow. But that cannot be right because his nose only grows when he lies. On the other hand, if he is lying, and his nose does not grow, that does not make sense either because he just lied. I am sorry if I gave you a headache.

A paradox is a self-contradictory statement or argument which consists of conflicting elements. Even though a paradox seems to contradict itself, it can in fact be true. A paradox defies logic and runs counter to one’s expectations.

Marketing paradoxes

1. Consumer Behavior: The paradox of choice…

Is giving people a lot of choices good or bad? Consumers like choices, so it would be reasonable to think that more choices are better. However, this may not be true. Have you seen people walking around confused with an empty plate at a large buffet? The plethora of choices can overwhelm us and paralyze us. Trying to find the right health insurance plan comes to mind too. On the other hand, Henry Ford famously said about Model T that “any color the customer wants (is ok), as long as it’s black.” There were no confused customers for Model T as far as color was concerned. So, we need to strike the right balance between offering variety and keeping the decision-making process simple. Focus on providing a thoughtful selection that caters to your customer’s needs and preferences.

By streamlining choices, you will empower them to make decisions confidently and experience true satisfaction. Remember, simplicity is the secret sauce that leaves customers hungry for more. One solution is to create a table. In the first column is a list of features. Then all the potential products are listed and circle the features each product provides. This is an effective way to differentiate a product or service at-a-glance and simplify choices.

2. Product Management: Broad reach vs. targeted approach paradox

The paradox of mass communication versus targeted messages has been long debated. For a brand to flourish, it needs to grow its base, find new markets, and applications. However, many times we develop the personas of ideal customers and laser-focus on that niche. This cannot be the right recipe for broader adoption. Much has been written on the subject and the balance tilts from one side to the next with time and the type of product, but continuous reach with the widest possible audience is optimum to grow a brand.

There are three major considerations here:

  1. Are there other untapped segments that would benefit or be interested in our product?
  2. What is the size of the segment?
  3. What are the budgetary constraints?

Based on these criteria, a decision can be made on the correct approach.

3. Marketing Strategy: Need for marketing but do not have the budget:

Famous psychologist, Steuart Henderson Britt, once said,” doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.” But it takes money to advertise. And what if you do not have a budget? And to make money, you must advertise to make people aware of what you have to offer. It can be a conundrum.

So, what do you do? You may not be able to use broadcast media or have a big booth at a trade show, but social media is quite inexpensive. You can develop posts and write blog articles or white papers. Use Google ads where you can specify a modest budget to receive exposure and have potential customers visit your landing pages. It is best to develop a content strategy with the resources that are available.

4. Market Research: Personalization-privacy paradox:

Customers like hyper-targeted messages. They expect true personalization from every business. They are looking for that key that would unlock the hurdles in their chosen path. Targeted messages make these customers feel that someone understands the issues they are facing and the solution fits like a glove. But this is difficult in an era where consumers are more conscious of their data privacy than ever.

The personalization–privacy paradox refers to a continuous tension, between a company’s desire to accumulate consumer information to personalize consumer experiences and a consumer’s need for privacy. Modern technology has exacerbated the situation because consumers may allow firms to access their personal information through social media without understanding what they are consenting to. Firms use the information to personalize consumers’ online navigation, retargeting, and improve their online experience. But some lines may be crossed. There is a need to find a balance between gathering personal data to provide actionable expedient consumer targeting while not jeopardizing consumers’ trust. If an organization can achieve the right balance, it has the potential for becoming a colossal strategic advantage. Research by Accenture shows that 88 percent of consumers say companies that provide personalized experiences without compromising their trust are more appealing.

5. Sales Strategy: The more honest you are about your brand’s shortcomings; the more customers will trust you.

I can tell you from personal experience that this is true. I was a sales rep selling Ambien CR. A primary care physician asked me if Ambien CR is an appropriate drug for a caregiver who has to wake up every two to four hours to attend to her elderly family member? She must be alert. I said no. The dual layer packaging of Ambien CR (controlled release) causes some medication to be released immediately, with the rest released gradually, resulting in higher serum levels throughout the night than regular Ambien to maintain sleep. Its half-life is 2.8 hours; its duration of action about 8-10 hours. I told him that Sonata with a half-life of 1 hour and duration of action of about 4 hours would be a better option for the caregiver. She would be more alert to provide care. This doctor seemed shocked that I am telling him that the drug I am selling should not be prescribed for this patient. He became my higher Ambien CR prescriber in WI. The lesson here is that the more open and transparent you are about your brand’s features and potential shortcomings, the more customers will trust you and appreciate your honesty and authenticity.

Well, another paradox is that if this blog is too short, it would not have all the information that I wanted to convey to you but if it is too long, then everyone is busy, and no one has time to read a thesis. So, I will seek balance and stop here. — Brad Saeed