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LinkedIn on the overlooked 5th ‘P’ of marketing: customer promise


By Gordon Young, Editor-in-Chief

November 2, 2023 | 5 min read

We all know the 4Ps – product, price, place and promotion. Now, in B2B at least, there’s a new P on the block – promise to the customer. Jann Schwartz, founder of LinkedIn’s B2B Institute thinktank, explains more at B2B World Fest.


Jann Schwartz, founder of LinkedIn's B2B Institute

In a world of ever-evolving marketing strategies, the age-old wisdom of keeping things simple and making a clear customer promise is proving to be a cornerstone of long-term success, the founder of LinkedIn B2B Institute, Jann Schwarz, told B2B World Fest.

While the marketing landscape can seem intricate and multifaceted, it often boils down to one essential principle: a brand’s ability to deliver a clear and compelling promise to its customers.

B2B and B2C: a lesson from man’s best friend

Surprisingly, Schwarz claimed, we can draw inspiration from our furry friends for this marketing revelation. Dogs, in their pursuit of a frisbee, employ remarkably simple heuristics, reacting to the frisbee's movement with either acceleration or deceleration until the precise moment to catch it.

This elementary approach might be more sophisticated than we realize. In a similar vein, marketers often underestimate the power of simplifying their message.

What’s at stake: connecting with your audience

The importance of a clear customer promise becomes evident when we consider the 95-5 ratio; only 5% of B2B clients are active at any given moment. The challenge is clear: how to reach and connect with this largely untapped audience, which represents a huge percentage of future sales. The answer lies in simplicity.

The challenge: striking a balance between products and brand

In the marketing world, a dichotomy often emerges between those who emphasize products and specifications and those who advocate for brand-driven marketing. The former believes in swaying customers with the merits of their offerings, listing features and benefits, while the latter champions a less clearly defined notion of “brand.”

The challenge lies in reconciling these two seemingly divergent paths

The solution: a customer promise

The solution lies in distilling the message into a single, powerful concept: the customer promise. This framework integrates product information with brand identity into a single, simplified message. Why? Because customers, especially those outside the market, value clarity. They remember simple messages. Thus, the “customer promise” simplifies the complex and ensures that businesses speak the language their audience understands.

Testing the hypothesis: the power of customer promise

To put this theory to the test, extensive research was conducted in collaboration with organizations like Cannes Lions. The analysis focused on campaigns and their effectiveness, depending on whether they made a clear customer promise.

The results were illuminating: only 40% of ads made a clear customer promise.

Identifying brand promises that aren’t customer promises

An intriguing aspect of the research was the distinction between brand promises and customer promises. The former often touted a brand’s prestige, popularity or greatness, all of which focus on the company itself rather than the customer.

The ideal: a customer promise that resonates

Perhaps the quintessential example of a brand that mastered the art of the customer promise is Geico, a car insurance provider. It overcame the challenge of a name that had little relevance to its offerings by building a promise of simplicity and savings – “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.”

The message is clear and effective.

The impact: customer promise and long-term brand health

The research underscored the immense impact of a clear customer promise. Campaigns that made such promises drove long-term brand health, outperforming those that didn’t.

The difference was clear across various factors, including market share growth, all types of campaigns and budgets.

The strategy: your customer promise

In essence, the customer promise is your strategy. It distills product strategy, marketing strategy, sales strategy and customer experience into one clear message – how are you creating differentiated value for your customers? When the entire business aligns around this promise, a virtuous cycle begins, turning marketing into a strategic growth driver rather than a mere support function for sales.

In a world of marketing complexities, simplicity reigns supreme. Making a clear customer promise isn’t just good marketing; it’s a path to long-term success that resonates with businesses and consumers alike. It’s a lesson we’ve learned from dogs chasing Frisbees – the simpler, the better.

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