I recently had coffee with the CMO of a European technology company, and he quickly disclosed his frustration that the company seemed to be losing touch with the customer. “We have fine-tuned demand generation and lead nurturing programs in place, but I am worried that we are leaving all the lifting – heavy and otherwise – to automation. When I ask product marketing managers or sales execs to tell me about our customers, they can spout data on the top personas, but I get the feeling they don’t really understand the person behind the persona.” It’s not uncommon: too often we get so caught up in metrics, demand generation stats and lead nurturing that we forget we are indirectly talking to people, so it’s even more important to try to connect.
From the prospect’s perspective, maybe you’re not doing such a good job! All too often, lead nurturing activities treat the target as a cookie cutter recipient of a one-size-fits-all message. Prospects receive emails that start “Hi, George, we can help with your HR needs!” or “Hello, George, I hope you have been enjoying your summer holidays.” If your approach is fake friendly, relying on a casual style meant to resonate with the recipient (but not based on any idea of what will appeal to that person) the email will either be deleted immediately or marked as spam; at the least, it can cause the recipient to be annoyed with your company and your brand for wasting time.
Fake friendly marketing is an inappropriate way of getting attention from busy prospective buyers. It often misses the mark and does not engage. A mechanical approach, based on automatically stepping through the phases of lead nurturing with no visibility into what I have done (where I have gone, what I have downloaded) or one that continues to send the same email time and again, followed by annoying robocalls with automated sales pitches, may save time and energy but severely limit the effect.
On the other hand, if you tell a story, you can grab the recipient’s attention and at the very least leave the person smiling – and not angry with you for treating them like a cipher. Rather than start with a chatty introduction that may hit the reader’s inbox at an inconvenient time and may annoy rather than intrigue, follow the advice of storytellers: make your prospect the hero of the story. Vividly show the quantifiable benefits of choosing your solution, and if appropriate, the perils of making the wrong choice. A quick story lays out the situation, mentions the complications of the matter and the implications of not solving it well, and then resolves it (with a mention of the tangible results). When done with a bit of humor, such a story makes the reader feel that you can relate to them, and are interested in building real relationships, not fake ones.
About the Author
Tanya Candia is the author of several engineering and marketing books, including the five-book series “Starting Your Startup” published by IEEE. She has held senior executive positions in technology companies, and works with organizations around to world to develop and implement winning strategies.
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