Go ahead and give it a go!
My 16-year-old son loves to play hide-and-seek. OK, 100 percent of the time it’s hide, and 0 percent it’s seek. Like a typical teen, he spends his after-education hours in his room either sleeping or video gaming.
He makes an appearance when his stomach dictates it. We refuse to move the kitchen into his room. He’ll also come to Paul or me when he needs something. Most interactions last a minute or two. That’s about the extent of Lane’s involvement in the Snave (hint: read it backwards) household.
Calling party of five
One day after school, Lane entered my home office and started talking. And talking. And talking. Who knew the boy could talk? We must’ve chatted for a record-breaking 30 minutes.
About a month later, my 11-year-old son Zachary was teaching his big sister how to play chess. He needed to teach someone how to play to fulfill a requirement to earn his Boy Scout chess merit badge.
A junior at St. Edwards University (go, Goats!), Shelby got the hang of it after a few games. Eventually, Paul joined in to play against our daughter. I’d like to say it was a battle for the ages. But considering Paul had years of experience playing chess, and Shelby had only a few hours, it wasn’t.
Here came the jaw-dropping moment. A little while later, I walked in the family room and was greeted by the presence of all three children. Shelby was on the sofa playing chess. Zachary sat on the adjacent loveseat entrenched in a computer game. Wait a minute. If he’s not across from her, then who’s that other kid playing chess?
It was Lane. I couldn’t remember the last time he played a game with the family that didn’t have a screen and buttons. I also couldn’t remember the last time all five of us were in a room together outside of Grandma’s house.
How did Lane end up in my office? Or — more miraculous — battling Shelby in a chess game?
When he came home from school, he knew we were there. He saw me in my office through the glass double-doors, and he couldn’t get into the kitchen without walking through the family room and seeing the rest of us.
Being present, or top of mind, comprises one part of the “getting your content marketing read” equation. That’s where email marketing nurtures leads. The other part is interest.
Talk, personality … smile, personality … charm, personality
You don’t need to learn how to play chess to stir interest in your B2B professional services firm. Sending emails on a regular basis keeps you top of mind. Yet with everyone discovering the secret of content marketing, how do we get people to choose to read ours?
Make it personal. Tell stories.
How many B2B professional services companies do you know that open the curtains and share what happens behind the scenes or get personal?
Whenever I want to look up a movie or TV show, I go to Internet Movie Database aka IMDB.com. (Stick with me here …) Entries have ratings on a scale from one to 10. Most of the time, I agree with the ratings, or come close.
One night, “The Bachelor” was on. (OK, OK … I admit it. The previews intrigued me, so I tuned in like the lemming I am.) It prompted me to look up the show’s rating.
Guess what it was on a scale of one to 10 with 10 being highest. Come on … I’ll even give it to you, if you guess within three stars.
Two point eight stars.
I was flabbergasted … and yet … not flabbergasted.
Really? A show with high viewership fell short of three stars? Finding shows rated that low doesn’t happen often. (“The Bachelorette” doesn’t count. It’s 2.9, BTW.)
Why is “The Bachelor” a bad reality show that people can’t help watch like watching a train wreck?
The same reason social media is hot stuff. We humans are a naturally nosy, social bunch. We’re drawn to people’s personal lives and stories. I could quote you all those psychology studies from the likes of Robert B. Cialdini and Dan Ariely, but I won’t. I think we all know this.
“B-to-b marketing must become more humanly relevant. As the digital tsunami of information continues to grow larger, business decision-makers are increasingly becoming numb,” says Christoph Becker, CEO at Gyro. “That’s why messages that leverage emotion — that make them feel something — will only become more vital.”
Telling stories and getting personal is how you can make your B2B professional services company sound more interesting and relatable. “A lot of b-to-b selling is complicated, complex and deals with high-dollar, long selling cycles. The best marketers are creating content that explains the work companies do in a way that educates the potential buyer, gains interest and goes mainstream into consumer channels — that is the sweet spot,” says Xerox CMO John Kennedy.
Stories don’t have to be from your personal life. They also don’t have to be funny. You can open the curtains on your company and reveal the fascinating stuff behind it. Just be human.
Stories could be about …
- A recent celebration.
- Helping others.
- An employee’s incredible trip.
- Surprising a coworker.
- A mistake your company made. (I see ’em all the time. Great reads that earn respect.)
Would you rather be boring and forgettable or personal and memorable?
Personal + social media = awesomesauce (Read: More leads and revenues)
The more successful B2B companies employ a multichannel marketing strategy. This involves communicating targeted messages to your audience across multiple devices and platforms. Social media is one of them. And when you include it to your content and email marketing efforts, you’ll reach more folks.
Whenever a new email goes out, mention it in social media. Skip the boring “Here’s our latest email newsletter. Enjoy!”
Instead, grab their attention with a personal touch or a value-oriented note. “What does it take to double your leads? Find out.” Or “How my kids’ chess game grew traffic by 20 percent.” (I can hope!)
Remember to include links to your B2B professional services company’s social media accounts in your email newsletter. And those social media accounts should give people a way to subscribe to your email newsletter.
Do you use marketing automation to send “welcome” and other automated emails? Have confirmation pages on your website? If so, put the social links and email subscription information there, too. Holding a webinar? Put the URL on the slides and mention it.
Email marketing and social media play well together. A winning content marketing plan combines multiple tactics. Add a heaping spoonful of personality, and your content marketing efforts will checkmate often. “We need to realize that b-to-b customers are people. They go home and watch ‘American Idol’ [and ‘The Bachelor’] and they sit in traffic on the way to work,” says Adam Kleinberg, CEO of Traction.
About the author
Meryl K. Evans is senior editor at InternetViZ and the content maven behind the Organizational Excellence Journal and Professional Services Journal. Contact her or connect with her on Twitter @merylkevans or elsewhere.