Understand your audience? Check.
Nailing your messaging? Check.
Predictably attracting high-quality leads? Check.
Congratulations, you’ve built a functional marketing funnel!
Now you know how your funnel works, you can launch ambitious, off-the-wall campaigns with the confidence that they will attract new customers.
There’s a strong logic that underpins going unconventional. You can’t expect your audience to care that much about your new podcast, your promotional offer, or your founder’s inspirational morning routine. They’ve seen it all before.
You can expect them to care about content that surprises them, makes them laugh, and fights for their interests.
The best example I can think of came from Wise (then TransferWise), whose employees stripped down to their underwear in front of the Bank of England, to show that, unlike traditional banks, their transfer fees have nothing to hide. I struggle to remember most of the campaigns I’ve worked on over the years, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to tell my grandchildren about that Wise campaign when they insist, “Tell us again what marketing was like in 2014!”
Doing something radically different gives you the ‘right to exist’ in places standard marketing wouldn’t belong. That includes the national press, other people’s retweets and mentions, and the long-term memory of your audience. Regular ol’ B2B marketing doesn’t usually touch these hallowed grounds, so your campaign is in a competition-free zone, which makes it so much more effective.
Why then do so few early-stage B2B teams run unexpected, creative campaigns? It’s because they don’t have the confidence you have now. Without a clear definition of what their audience would respond to, and without a clear idea of the messages they should share, any creative campaign would come across confused, and out-of-step with their struggle for an identity.
Wise’s ‘no more transfer fees’ message, combined with a clear common enemy (those greedy, slippery bankers), gave Wise founder Taavet Hinrikus the confidence to stand up in front of a UK-based team and say, “Today we’re all going to get naked in front of the Bank of England.”
But what if a bout of overconfidence led you to launch a wildly creative campaign without setting up your audience definition, messaging, and customer funnel first? In this case, your campaign is either likely to fizzle out quickly because you misunderstood how your audience will respond or you’ll generate a lot of attention but struggle to convert those impressions to leads and customers.
Either way, I don’t see this happen much. Marketers that are unsure of the fundamentals are more likely to play it safe and copy their more successful competitors.
However, I did see a mixed bag of results when I created an old-school video game-type site to win new customers for my freelance business. Curious to understand what happened, I wrote a teardown of the experience.
Tearing down my Marmitey site
I turned on the PS One I salvaged from my mum’s house before she moved up north. I had just lost a client, so I felt a little low and a bit distracted.
Revisiting the awkward, blocky graphics of Tomb Raider and Crash Bandicoot gave me some comfort, but unable to totally switch off, I started to think of all the tech founders with ridiculously busy lives who spent a good portion of the 90s idly playing these video games.
I remembered the nostalgia-laced conversationsI’d had with tech folk about staying indoors, hooked to video games when the sun shone brightly outside.
Wouldn’t these founders find it fun to land on a site and get sucked into playing a video game for ten minutes instead of building a deck, reviewing budgets, or worrying about company goals? Wouldn’t this help me stand out as a content marketer that cared about my audience’s experience?
Saying ‘I do content marketing differently’ would make me the same as everyone else. Showing it would be difficult to argue with.
I listed out what I wanted to achieve from the project:
I wanted to do something new
You can do anything on the internet, and a templated marketing site would have felt like a missed opportunity. I’m a content marketer so I wanted to create something different. If they liked it, they might want to work with me.
I wanted to show my strategy
Marketing got much easier the day I learned campaign ideas were going to come from my customer’s head, not mine. I knew my target audience of London-based tech founders liked computer video games, so I built one.
I wanted to waste people’s time
B2B marketing’s focus on info sharing means that most campaigns are a touch boring. You can’t show a white paper to your son and say, “Isn’t this cool”? I wanted my audience to switch from ‘I am being told something’ mode to ‘I am being entertained’ mode, and enjoy themselves.
I wanted to win a client
Most importantly, with a slot for a new client available, it was time to put myself out there.
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