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B2B Marketing Berserk Differentiation

So this story about a job applicant rejected by the San Diego Padres floated my way earlier this morning.  It’s raw, it’s stunningly different and it’s destructive.  It’s going out with a fiery blast.  Here’s the story (language warning).

It’s a rant, the emotion of which, we’ve all experienced but shared only (and appropriately) with our friends, loved ones or the dog.  And while it certainly differentiated this job seeker, it did so in an infamous versus famous way.  Plus, she didn’t accomplish her goal.

The goal wasn’t to go viral.  The goal wasn’t even to be right.  The goal was to get hired.

What if the creative and bold had been channeled more productively and launched, earlier in the process? What if she had sought ways to get by the barriers, to get noticed and to have those she wanted to influence Know, Like and Trust her?  Yes, she got noticed, she hit the “Know” right out of the park – but did she accomplish Like and Trust with those who were in a position to hire and recommend her?

But beyond the Aesop’s Fable ending of “Don’t Burn Bridges” that this story begs – I want to point out the insanity of doggedly adhering routines and communication vehicles that don’t work.

This could translate in our world to responding to RFPs, cold calling, clicking out email blast after email blast and receiving no love from our prospects.

There are lots of excuses for continuing – that’s what the prospect requires, it doesn’t cost me anything to email, etc.  But it’s not getting results.

There is a happy medium between berserk meltdown ranting and clever differentiation.

It’s very difficult to take a list of strangers and get them to notice you – let alone spend five figures with you.  But people attempt this all the time.

So unlike our job applicant’s approach what can we do?

1. Look for a connection

Here’s a great way to harness the power of LinkedIn.  It’s like playing the game six degrees of separation.  If you’ve been methodically building your connections on LinkedIn – every one you meet at a conference or business events, every one you’ve received an email of inquiry from, all your customers, all your referral partners – there’s a very good chance that someone you know – knows the person you’ve identified as an ideal Prospect.

So let’s say, I’ve identified Kathryn Short as an ideal prospect, I can go to LinkedIn and search on her name and click on the most likely result.

On the right hand side, I can see that one of my connections, Ben Westerberg, is connected to Kathryn.  I can now ask Ben if he will introduce me to Kathryn.

I could also send Kathryn an “InMail” through LinkedIn.  I’d customize the message and say something like:  Kathryn, I noticed that we both know Ben Westerberg.  I know Ben from ________.  I hope to meet you sometime but in the meantime would you like to connect through LinkedIn?  Don’t send the generic “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Don’t spam your new connection.  Allow the relationship to develop and be judicious with your communication.

2. Look for an introduction

Reach out to your contact and let them know that when convenient and appropriate, you’d love an introduction.  They could do this through an email or in person.  In person is always better, but I’ve had some very successful introductions via email.

Again, don’t spam your new connection.  But do build on this introduction – don’t let it go cold.  Follow up and maintain regular communication.

As fellow Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Bill Doerr once pointed out – introductions come easier than referrals.  There is less pressure on everyone.  The introduction is not the place to go into hard sell mode – but if you nurture that introduction you may be developing a future client long term and developing another connection short term.

3. Maintain visibility

Be top of mind when the moment comes.  Spamming gets you deleted more often than it gets you noticed.  But if your communication is memorable, valuable and frequent (frequent is different than spamming) – you will maintain visibility.

It’s always the prospect or customer who determines when they are ready to move to the next stage.  What we do, how we communicate, the value of what we communicate are all contributing to the Know Like and Trust.

I use 3D or lumpy mailings to gain attention.  A box or thick package always gets opened.  I can’t afford to send these out monthly:  I send them out 3 times a year.  In between I maintain visibility with postcards, social media and conferences.  Most of my list consists of referral partners who refer me business.  But there are prospects on there as well.  Nurturing my referral partners is by far the most profitable part of my campaign.

I doubt many of us would lash out in a way that this job applicant did.  But, I bet many of us are clinging to ineffective methods of marketing that frustrate us because of their feeble results.

Change it up.  Be focused.  Be different.  Be creative.  And while you may not go viral, you will build positive, strong relationships with people who can help you accomplish your goal.


One Response to B2B Marketing Berserk Differentiation

  1. Rosie Taylor says:

    This is a wonderful reminder that having a plan rather than going with a shotgun approach always pays off in the long run. There’s no magic bullet and you give us some practical tips here for making it work using the tools we already have.

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