And thus…the pandemic had the world in a panic. Webinars, virtual workshops, eDMs about how businesses can change our lives! Let us find a silver lining – this pandemic has enabled me to give my movie and tv watch-list a significant whack – so much so, that last week I found myself sharing an anecdote from The Office with a client.
In Season 6 Episode 10 of The [American] Office (apologies Ricky Gervais), Michael Scott leads his staff through a murder-mystery game to distract them from rumours around pending redundancies. My client was talking about morale and that just reminded me of this classic episode with a very real undertone masked by typical sitcom shenanigans.
In turn, this past weekend I found myself pondering three lessons – particularly around B2B marketing – that we could pick up from popular culture.
By the way – if you’re looking for some movies to inspire marketers, here’s a shortlist by our friends at Hubspot.
Know your audience – Research your market and customer
Late night television in America is a great example of a well-oiled machine, churning out fresh content 4–5 days a week, 9–10 months a year. Shot in front of a live studio audience, presenters have strong magnetic personalities that cater to varied segments across a global audience.
Over decades, these shows have identified some key content areas that their audience will engage with. For example, the political climate in America opens many doors for wit and satire for these shows – making it a core go-to for content concepts. One doesn’t have to go further than the commentary from Trevor Noah or Stephen Colbert on the recently concluded race to select the Democratic nominee for the upcoming election.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t always work – see NYtimes article on Jimmy Fallon’s interview of Donald Trump
When we think about B2B marketing, understanding your audience is paramount, especially today when information proliferation has gotten in the way of meaningful engagement. What topics would keep them deeply engaged and coming back for more? How do you become a voice they respect and love with regard to their needs and pain points? Why would they love us enough to respect us and come back for more?
Understand character arcs – Develop buyer journeys
One of the longer character arcs of all time came to its polarising conclusion last year with Game of Thrones (GoT). SPOILER ALERT: The journey of Daenerys Targaryen from tradable commodity manipulated by her brother to mother of dragons and breaker of chains and finally the queen of the seven kingdoms murdered by her lover/nephew. Complex – to say the least.
Elsewhere, journeys of Charlie Harper (Two and a half men), Walter White (Breaking Bad) or Ally McBeal (Who?) all allow one thing in common – long running story lines that allowed fans to dive deep into their minds, how they evaluated situations, where they looked for solutions and how they reacted on an emotional and functional level to a myriad of circumstances.
In developing B2B marketing campaigns, we’ve found it useful to think of our buyers as central characters to stories. Their pain points, what keeps them up at night, the primordial creatures they regress to when in distress and ultimately, the parts of their lives that we (as marketers) can help them with. No one wakes up thinking that Green Hat can help you get more leads (even though we can 😉) – humans wake up wondering – “How do i get more leads to pacify my head of sales and meet my targets?”
And thus these questions in B2B campaign development – how is your message cutting through? Is it aligned to your objectives? Have you considered the funnel and the buyer journey in your planning? Are you using the right channels? What about your creativity is going to actually make me feel that you’re the right one for me?
Also a great resource for thinking about buyer journeys and making the customer central to all planning – Donald Miller’s Storybrand approach.
Beware terrible extensions – Audit and map your content
Continuing the use of GoT for this blog – few anthologies have disappointed fans as much as the disastrous season 8 in 2019 (The author acknowledges that this is a dangerous rabbit hole). Other calamitous extensions include five Pirates of the Caribbean movies (and 1000 Johnny Depps), How I Met your mother, Lost, Dexter, Scrubs… the list goes on.
When thinking about content for your audience, it’s worthwhile investing in a test and learn approach – where are they open to reviewing your content? What kind of content are they going to engage with? Does your content actually stand out from your competitors or is it the same drivel with a different logo? What format are they interested in engaging with – and does that format actually progress them down the funnel or is it just a vanity metric?
- Know your audience
- Research your market and customer
- Understand character arcs
- Develop buyer journeys
- Audit and map your content
There are opportunities to learn more in this pandemic – even when binging on Netflix. The opportunity here is to take a step back and invest this time in tackling those strategic projects that have otherwise been in the “too-hard” basket. Your customers are settling into a new normal (just like you) and there’s never been a better time to try and empathise to understand them better. Use that knowledge to plan your post-pandemic playbook. The only question left now is – are you a Mexican? Or a Mexican’t?