5 ways to dodge it
A junior in high school, my son Lane has to start buckling down to figure out what he wants to do after graduation. We recently had a meeting with his counselor to discuss post-graduation plans, and Lane attended College Night for the second year in a row.
He knows College Night is important. It gives him a chance to shop around a bunch of colleges in one sitting and narrow that list before doing deeper research and college visits.
More than 100 colleges had representatives there. Before attending College Night, I had asked him what interested him. We needed to shorten the list and highlight the ones to check out.
Last year, he was interested in automotive technology. Last fall, it was something in agriculture, but no specifics. After taking one semester of vet tech, he’s now interested in veterinary medicine.
It sounds like he’ll go the agriculture route, but it wouldn’t be shocking if he changes his mind again. And that’s OK. I changed my major twice before settling on education. My daughter, on the other hand, stuck with her major from day one, and she graduates in May!
Two schools … two different results
The first and only presentation Lane attended at College Night was from a large university, one that he has no chance of getting in. Nonetheless, the school has many smaller campuses around Texas. That got College Night off to a slow start, since Lane and Paul — the other half of Lane’s parental unit — sat through the presentation with no interaction.
The next step was to visit the highlighted colleges. After Lane talked to the first one on the list, he was ready to leave. Paul reminded him that they needed to visit a few more.
They visited another. It didn’t go well. The representative looked bored, like he’d rather be anyplace but there. Lane was totally ready to leave after this.
Paul didn’t relent. He told Lane that they had one more important stop, as it’s one of two schools in the area that offers automotive technology training.
It turned out this rep was the best of the bunch. Paul said Lane was the most animated and talkative with this rep. Not only was the rep personable, he remembered our email conversation from five months before.
After this stop, Paul let Lane off the hook, and they headed home.
Five content marketing lessons
What content marketing lessons does College Night teach us? Here are five ways to make your content marketing ring with B2B prospects.
- Be personable and human.
Content marketing needs to be personable — more so for B2B professional services companies. The most important factor in their business is their talent. If you meet two people who have equal experience and education, but one is a stick in the mud while the other is likable — which will you choose?
Drop the formal tone and write conversationally. You’ll keep them coming back.
- Tell stories.
Start collecting client stories. Use them to help prospects see themselves in the story. That helps build a connection between the prospect and the content.
- Describe prospects’ problems.
Don’t just describe the problem; show what will happen if the problem isn’t solved. Some companies may think they can just go on living with the problem. But your company knows what will happen if they do that. Give them a reality check. Get extra credit if you use numbers to back up your points.
- Communicate consistently.
While I hadn’t communicated with the friendly rep in a few months, we exchanged a few messages, and it helped us remember each other. And because he remembered me, he won bonus points with us.
Companies that consistently communicate and keep track of exchanges with prospects will be remembered when prospects need their services.
- Educate don’t advertise.
Share lots of free content that will teach your prospects something they can use. These can be in the form of white papers, case studies, blog posts, email newsletters, SlideShare presentations and webinars. Give away information.
Yes, give away information on how to do what your company does. You’ll build credibility and gain trust. Most prospects don’t have the time or energy to fix the problem you can solve. Or they’ll try and find it’s harder than expected.
The next steps …
So what happens after College Night?
Needless to say, Lane has no desire to consider the school with the unenthusiastic rep who didn’t try to share anything about the school.
Yet, he plans to attend a tech night offered by the school with the personable rep.
Now, if the indifferent rep’s university had something unique that caught Lane’s eye … then maybe he’d still consider it. But really, it didn’t have anything he couldn’t get at another university. It’s one of a handful of campuses in a large university’s system. They all offer similar programs in different locations and settings.
We threw away the brochures from the dud school and signed up for more information from the winners.
The message is clear. Your content should be like the personable rep to compel people to get on your mailing list and return for more.
About the author
Meryl K. Evans is senior editor and employee No. 2 at InternetViZ. She is a content marketer who helps businesses connect with their prospects and clients through a variety of content. Meryl is also the author of several books on business and technology. Contact her at email@example.com, follow her on Twitter at @merylkevans or elsewhere.