It is a phrase that I have heard many times, but I heard it again this week and it stuck in my mind.
‘Don’t tell me you’re funny – make me laugh’.
I’m not suggesting that marketers need to be stand-up comedians, although a sense of humour is essential to remain sane. What this phrase says to me is that when we market we should be demonstrating ‘how good we are’, and not just saying ‘we are good’.
There is an obvious way of doing this which is using the voice of the customer. A testimonial is worth a hundred eShots. I watched a documentary about Facebook recently – something I recorded ages ago, so probably old news now, but noteworthy all the same. It was talking about how Facebook is capitalising on advertising. It gave the example of someone like me going onto, say, the corporate Facebook page of Coca-Cola, and hitting ‘Like’. This is then used to advertise my endorsement of Coca-Cola to my friends. It assumes my friends have similar tastes to me, and as such when they login they are presented with a paid advert that effectively says ‘Gary likes Coca-Cola’ rather than ‘Coca-Cola is great’.
I find many organisations turn creating case studies into ‘mission impossible’, and as such a great deal of effort results in very little. I am not suggesting the Facebook model is the answer for B2B, but something can be learned from its simplicity. With this approach you are effectively getting someone else to say how great you are – ‘my friends say I am funny’.
The less obvious way is to get people to sample how you think, work and act. In other words, what is it like to be one of your customers? I do this for one of my clients – I effectively run a communication programme for customers delivering value-add information and advice. What I then do is take this content and ever so slightly re-purpose it for potential customers. This is a very subtle approach but in essence, rather than driving lots of eMarketing campaigns saying’ look at me’ or ‘we are great’, I very softly send them the things that make us great in the eyes of our customers.
I also find that this approach works well in terms of events. Many organisations are reluctant to have customers and prospects to the same event. I strongly believe that there is everything to gain and very little to lose in doing this. At an event, customers very rarely talk negatively about the host – after all they do not want to publicly declare they have made the wrong choice, especially not to strangers. They may be truthful in combining positives with negatives, but in my view this actually adds to the credibility.
Marketing may be at the sharpest end of the business, but sometimes it is the subtle things that are the most effective in raising not only awareness, but credibility of your organisation.