“Hey, Brian, Samuel L Jackson is on the phone again. He wants to know if you fancy grabbing a beer after work?”
I’d have to think about that offer for about 2 flaps of a hummingbird’s wings before answering “hell, yes.” It would be about as irresistible to me as Sir Richard Branson offering me the use of Necker Island for the week, or Dave Trott offering to share his favourite advertising anecdotes.
But compare and contrast that with the calls I more usually get as a buyer of B2B services (e.g. market research, design support, SEO consultancy and the like)…
“Would you like to see our portfolio?” or “Are there any projects we can help you with?”
I’ve been guilty of naff intros like that too during my B2B marketing career. An instantly forgettable email heading. An immediately ignorable Direct Mail call to action. An appallingly trite opening line for a cold call (back in the dark days when cold calling was still an acceptable mass marketing strategy). I can envision the “hell no” responses now.
But those “no” responses highlight one blindingly obvious solution to making our marketing more impactful…
Simply, what wouldn’t your targets say no to? What would be the irresistible equivalent of catnip spray in our respective B2B sectors? If you can answer that, you’re probably onto something.
An example of getting a ‘hell, yes’
Let me share an example of that in practise.
As I mentioned above, I’m a buyer of B2B services as well as a marketer of B2B services. In my various roles running B2B marketing campaigns or operations over the years, I’ve bought from creative agencies, coders, copywriters, market researchers, technology vendors, translators, social media consultancies, shipping companies, lawyers, hat makers, you name it. I’ve been sold to successfully a number of times, and I like to learn from the techniques that other sales & marketing people have used on me. One of the most memorable marketing techniques, and by far the most simple, was a call I took many years ago from a tech agency. Word for word, it went like this…
“Hi Brian, would you like to know the 10 best things your rivals are doing online that you’re not?”
I mean seriously, you’d have to be having a really bad day (or perhaps a ridiculously brilliant, ‘already smashed our sales targets’ year) to say no to something like that. Of course I said yes.
The agency got on my radar. We had a nice cup of tea a few days later. They indeed shared with me some stuff that I should have been doing on my company website. I invited them to pitch for some work. Unlike the 20 or 30 that had just offered to show me their portfolio.
What, I think, marketers can learn from that example
I took away a few things from that example, including:
- It plays on classic emotional and persuasive techniques, such as loss aversion (i.e. being worried about being left behind by my rivals). Techniques that are more likely to provoke a response;
- While it’s certainly harder work coming up with something like that than just offering to show people your portfolio or credentials – since you have to create something irresistible – it’s far more likely to be effective, and it’s far more likely to set you apart from lazier rivals; and
- The approach felt relevant and personal to me (although, in fact, I’m sure the agency took the same piece of content to 20 other companies, just like mine – so it was scalable).
Needless to say, I liked the technique, and I’ve tried to use it ever since. Whether it’s getting an unmissable speaker to your event, or revealing some proprietary research, it’s still based on the same principle… don’t create ‘no’ moments.
I suspect you’re doing that already in your B2B marketing, but if not, I hope it gives you food for thought.
A final note of caution
As useful as I’ve found that technique over the years, there is one obvious thing you HAVE to do… Whatever you offer, you’d better well back it up. If you say you’re going to reveal something intriguing, you’d better well do it. But, I suppose, when was that never the case in anything you promise to customers?
Come back soon – more tips to follow. And in the meantime, good fishing fellow marketers. Fingers crossed one of us gets a beer with Samuel L 😉