A Lot Of People Tell Me That B2B Marketing Is Hard.
Harder than B2C, anyway, where a little bit of marketing savvy can sell empty plastic jars to consumers and call it “Florida sunshine”. (True)
Consumers may buy just about anything but businesses, well, they’re looking at the bottom line. Is this product or service going to make me money/save me money/improve my business?
Another thing I often hear is that people don’t know how to market their B2B service because, “It’s boring.”
Or nobody cares.
Or, “What am I supposed to say about shipping and logistics or cloud services or logo design?”
These people put out monotonous email newsletters and blogs full of jargon-y industry news and think that somehow this will inspire someone to care.
Today I’d like to introduce you to someone who is going to change your B2B marketing, so set aside your preconceived notions of what business people “want” to hear and what “sounds” professional and get ready for a different way of thinking.
Meet Hello Kitty
This little girl hardly needs an introduction. She’s been a global presence for 40 years and a fixture in many a young girl’s (and not-so-young-girl’s) life.
For you menfolk, I bet you’ve known at least one woman who wore Hello Kitty earrings or carried a Hello Kitty purse.
I grew up with Hello Kitty emblazoned on just about everything I owned. There was a whole lot less “merchandising” in those days so a lot fewer characters and gimmicks to choose from.
My two go-to characters were Hello Kitty and The Little Twin Stars (you get bonus brownie points for knowing who they were, short lived as their appearance was.)
Fast forward to today and I still have Hello Kitty toys and earrings and a very cool watch and about half a dozen stuffed kitties on my desk at any given time. They seem to multiply when I’m not looking.
Then a few weeks ago The Big Hoopla: it was revealed that Hello Kitty is not, in fact, a kitty.
You can read about that on your own but suffice it to say this surprised an awful lot of big little girls like me.
Which leads me to B2B marketing.
The Hello Kitty Email
Just last week I sent out an email to our Web.Search.Social mailing list and along with sharing news of our just-released podcast and reaching out to people to connect with me, I mentioned The Big Hoopla.
It was three sentences. I included it as a personal note.
If you’re on our mailing list, you may know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, you’d better sign up because look at all the fun you’re missing.
Anyway, here’s why this matters: because within 60 seconds of sending out that email I had a half dozen replies in my inbox with various responses from, “WHAT?!” to “Weird,” to “Hey, can we talk about the email campaign I’m working on?”
Within the next couple of hours, replies kept coming in, including one phone call asking, “Is this Hello Kitty Central?”
People connected with me on Facebook and Twitter (yes, I asked). They connected with me on LinkedIn (I didn’t ask).
One person said it was the first email of mine that she’d actually read (sort of a back-handed compliment but I’m looking on the bright side… at least she’s reading now!)
I booked a few guests for our new podcast.
Considering I didn’t promote anything and said almost exactly nothing about marketing (my own B2B service), I would call that a successful email campaign.
I got exactly what I wanted, which was to open a dialogue and connect with people in a way that affords me vastly more opportunity to build relationships and move people closer to the apex of the Holy Trinity of marketing where they will KNOW, LIKE and TRUST me.
And you know who people do business with, right?
I’ll let you fill in that blank.
Who Is Your Hello Kitty?
“That’s all well and good,” you may be thinking. “But I’m a geospatial surveyor! My clients would think I was insane if I talked about Hello Kitty.”
What I’m not telling you to do is to talk about Hello Kitty.
But what I am telling you to do is to think about how you can infuse yourself into your marketing in a way that is both unique to you and enjoyable for your audience so that you, too, can open a dialogue and encourage people to connect with you.
I also want you to think about how you can add an element of surprise to your communications. I could have told everyone I was enjoying the nice fall weather (personal… and boring) or that I just ate an awesome chicken avocado sandwich for lunch (personal… still boring). But I picked something both integral to who I am and completely unexpected as far as email newsletters go.
The idea is to build a web around yourself where you can reach people anywhere and everywhere.
Emailing people is great. Chatting with them on Facebook is great. Tweeting with them is great. But emailing and chatting and tweeting and linking/pinning/Skyping is even better.
Start by thinking in terms of building connections rather than simply “sending out this month’s email newsletter.”
What can you do, what can you say, to facilitate a very personal and human connection with people?
There’s some wisdom that says you should always be selling and that leads people to do all sorts of boring, hard-sell, pitch-y and ultimately ineffective things.
See, the thing is that I was selling. I didn’t tell anyone to buy my $100 service but I was selling myself. And in the B2B space it’s exponentially more important to sell yourself before your product or service.
Business relationships are more personal. They’re long term – or at least you want them to be! And they can also be more satisfying – and forgiving – if you skip the “newsletters” and just talk to the people.
If you want people to like you then you have to BE you.
And maybe Hello Kitty is the way. Even geospatial surveying clients have lives, too. I bet they even have kids who like Hello Kitty.
So take a moment before you spit out another “professional” marketing campaign and do something daring. Find your Hello Kitty and use that to make a connection with people. Don’t cringe, just get out on the ledge and do it.
Remember that you can sell your products and you can sell your services but never forget to sell yourself.
And if you need help figuring out how to do that, reach out to me. I know I have an extra Hello Kitty around here somewhere…