Marketing Musings: Don’t wear a business suit to a dairy farm and other memorable marketing morsels
What do dairy cows, alphabet soup and Ghost Busters have to do with marketing your business? You have to read to find out.
I haven’t written anything for me, for my blog, in a while. I write all the time for other people – witty, insightful, educational, need-to-know information. I’m also terrible with my own business’ social media, but I dazzle when posting for my clients. I guess I’m like a doctor who’s unhealthy, a librarian who doesn’t read (is there such a thing?) or a house cleaner with her own messy house. I live it in my work, so it’s hard to get motivated to do it for myself.
So, on this occasion when I woke with a spark of an idea that made me want to run and get it all down on proverbial paper before it wisps away in my head, rather than my normal roll-over-and-hope-I’ll-remember my brilliant thought later in the day, I decided boot up the screen, don my blue-light glasses and exercise my typing fingers to write something I hope you will find memorable.
A prospective client provided the seed for my story that blossomed overnight. As a long-time insurance professional, she has made it her mission to make insurance interesting – even fun. Ok, let’s be real. While we all know we need insurance, it’s really something we wish could just go away. Think of all the fun things you could spend money on if you didn’t have to pay for insurance…beach vacations, a convertible, the (insert your favorite dream product) you’ve been eyeing…I digress.
Now, this savvy woman knows all this. But she also knows that when you’re facing jaw-droppingly expensive surgery or your aching tooth is begging for a root canal, you are going to want that insurance to pay for everything it possibly can. It’s her job to make sure you a) have the right coverage, b) you understand it and c) it darn well performs when it needs to. But, she needs you to remember that she’s the one who can help with all those things when you really don’t want to think about insurance at all.
I work with a number of companies who their line of business is necessary, but if they try telling people what they do, inevitably eyes will either start to glaze over or dart furtively around the room, rapidly seeking the nearest exit. My job is to take these experts in their field and make them memorable. Make people want to work with them.
Wendy’s Belief #1. If given a comparable choice, people will always choose to work with people they like.
Take my wealth advisor client. They spend their days analyzing returns and charts. Their clients love them when their account balances are rising, but don’t we all know that isn’t always the case. Their business is also highly regulated in what they can and can’t do on social media. For a long time they believed they couldn’t have a social media presence because of the compliance risks. I convinced them to change the narrative. Today, their posts don’t offer anything in the way of investment advice, but they do sprinkle in wisdom and fun facts with a hint of financial education blended in. People like their posts. They could work with other wealth advisors, but along with the promise of better returns, their clients like the fun and human side that we promote. It attracts and retains clients. Here are a couple of example posts:
Another client is a Third Party Administrator. They are the people who pay your FSA or HSA claims. Or, you pay them your COBRA premiums if you are in between jobs. They deal with a lot of acronyms and a lot of complicated compliance work. Not fun, right? But, if you own a business, chances are you need someone like my client who is an expert at such things because not having them can get expensive if you’re getting penalized for non-compliance. We call them the Alphabet Soup Experts. Their monthly newsletter is “The Soup Scoop.” Their blog has become a library of articles that explain what people need to know about these alphabet-souped, federally-regulated programs. To make these articles more approachable, we use fun images and catchy titles to entice people to read something that normally they just might skip over. And it works.
Honestly, I had trouble picking which posts to feature, we have so many of them. These are an example of another one of my long-held beliefs:
Wendy’s Belief #2: it’s how you say it that attracts attention.
So, back to my now-new client. In our conversation about things she could do to build her brand, I brought up blogging (if that word makes you want to scream, insert “writing articles” instead and keep reading). Like my TPA client, she has a wealth of information and education she could provide people. I suggested she start compiling a list of stories with examples of where she helped people, or pitfalls people can avoid and add her own anecdotal humor to them. She liked that idea.
We started to trade stories. She told me about a benefits enrollment meeting where she handed out a memo and information to a group of employees. She ended the memo with “Who you gonna call?” (she’s lucky enough her name rhymes close-enough with Ghost Busters). A participant called the next week and told her he remembered almost nothing about the meeting, but he knew who needed to call with questions. Repeat after me. It’s how you say it.
Side-ish story. Having been in the benefits industry myself many moons ago, the conversation about enrollment meetings took me back to my very first one. I was so nervous and eager to impress. I dressed to the nines in all my mid-90s finest business attire – my shoulder-padded suit and pointy-toed pumps – my mind’s eye can picture exactly what I wore down to the red bow on my kitten heels. My client at the time was a dairy farm. I vividly remember the look on my client’s face when I walked in the office door. She took one sideways look at me and said dryly “well, I guess we’ll head out to the barn. Be careful in the mud.” I presented my first of dozens of enrollment meetings in a barn where there were way more cows than people. Oh, the memories and stories our conversation evoked.
All these examples lead me to:
Wendy’s Belief #3. For marketing to be effective, it needs to be memorable.
For marketing to be effective, it needs to be memorable. It doesn’t matter what your business does. It doesn’t matter if it is sexy and cool. It matters that people remember what you do at a time they need what you do.
Most of us won’t own the company that released the hottest new video game, or produced the “go-to” gift gadget of the year. Some of us sell malpractice insurance to doctors who work in prisons or extrude the plastic that makes the window inserts on planes (real businesses and former clients of mine). But the one thing all businesses have in common is they need customers to stay in business. And they to get those customers, they need memorable, likeable marketing to point potential customers in their direction.
I have many beliefs beyond just these three (I steadfastly believe it takes both a village and a vineyard to raise children, for example), but these are my foundational beliefs for marketing. So, the next time you are checking out your website, typing up a post for social media or introducing yourself and your business to someone new, stop and ask yourself if what you are presenting is being said in a way that will make you memorable, interesting and approachable. If not, I implore you to revisit the narrative and get a little more creative - you've got it in you (or if you really don't, call me!). You may be surprised what sparking a memory can do for your bottom line.
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For my clients, I'm a storyteller, cheerleader, push-you-out-of-your-comfort-zone type of marketing consultant. Hopefully I can inspire you too.