I recently had four separate experiences with business owners with one common theme: none of them really cared what we, their marketing agency team, did every day.
Let me explain.
The Client Insights
1. The CEO of a Massachusetts technology firm, listened as we presented a recap of our marketing activities over the last quarter and year-to-date results. All trends were positive—traffic, leads, keyword rankings, email engagement, etc. But it was not until his VP of Sales pulled out a list of customers that had closed this year that we got his full attention.
Several of the closed customers had been brought in as marketing leads – almost $1 million worth.
“Now that is the information I want to have,” he said.
2. Meeting with the CEO of a manufacturing company in Rochester, NY, our team presented a great recap of the first half of the year and recommendations for the second half.
This no-nonsense business owner who acknowledges that he is “old school” said, “I really don’t need those fancy bars and charts in your PowerPoint to help me decide how to move forward. The reality is that I am seeing a difference in our business and the conversations we are having, and that is why I want to keep going.”
3. A third business owner operates a Massachusetts professional services firm in the technology space. At our quarterly meeting with his team, he pulled out a list of clients representing $600,000 in business that can be attributed to his marketing program. He advised us to ask all of our clients to provide, on a monthly or quarterly basis, a list of their new clients and how much they are worth to them.
“If your clients are able to get you a good list on a regular basis, it’s a simple decision to continue working together.”
4. A partner at a Massachusetts financial services firm asked us to prepare a presentation that we would deliver to his partnership team. The goal of the meeting was to share the progress made in marketing over the past year so that the team could decide whether to renew their monthly marketing with us for another six months.
A few days after we prepared our deck and did a run-through with this partner, he called us. “My partners see no reason for you to come in for a meeting so we can talk about renewing for another six months. The work we are doing together has resulted in new clients, so we all want to move forward for another year.”
The Common Thread
Now, I am not sharing these stories in the spirit of bragging, though of course I am very proud of the results our team is achieving with these clients. I share these stories because they highlight what our clients care about – marketing that ultimately drives new business for their firms.
These business owners do not care about the tactics we used to drive new clients to their doors. They don’t care how many hours it took to write a blog post or how the robust HubSpot platform consolidates much of our activity into one integrated system.
They care about the “so what?” So what if you write and promote content, email our contacts, test a new tool on our landing pages? The “so what” is that we do these things to achieve the ultimate goal of helping our clients grow their businesses.
So that is the story we have to tell – how the work we do helps companies get new clients. If we fail here, our marketing programs will be a waste of money. Maybe not as big of a waste as some of these marketing fails, but failures nonetheless.
Here is why we are not always successful telling our story.
Sometimes we get caught up in the weeds and dive into details they may not care about. We live it every day and we are excited about it. Sometimes we are not able to tell the story because we can’t get the information we need on the sales side to know what business our client has closed. There is great technology to do this, but it is dependent on sales team adoption and marketing and sales alignment.
Are You Telling the Right Story to Your Clients?
We recently kicked off an engagement with a California tech firm and as we delved into why clients do business with them, we got a lot of information about the features of their products, how their products are different than the competitors’ and the things they do for customers.
But that is not really why companies pay them. The essence of their story has to be about how the companies they work with are better off for working with them. On the B2C side, the top story companies tell are related to the health, wealth or family of their customers. Translating that to B2B, the stories that resonate best are similar, related to the health, wealth and employees/clients of the customers served.
As a B2B firm, maybe your clients are more efficient, and thus more profitable, after working with you. Maybe they are easier or safer to do business with, so they can grow their client base. Or maybe they are able to provide a better workplace, so they can attract and retain top talent.
The key to success is to understand what they really care about, and why they pay you. Then you can make it happen and have some great stories to tell!