A Return to Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood..

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend B2B Marketing Forum. I was excited not only to speak there, but to learn – as B2B Marketing Forum attracts some of the best minds in the industry.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend B2B Marketing Forum. I was excited not only to speak there, but to learn – as B2B Marketing Forum attracts some of the best minds in the industry.

What’s so sexy about B2B marketing? Well, I admit it isn’t as glamorous as consumer but when done well, it’s downright elegant.

This is my second year attending and what made this year poignant to me was the theme:

Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. You remember that kids show on PBS?

I loved Mr. Rogers as a kid. His messages made a real impact on me. I was influenced by his show so much that I adopted some of his habits as I grew up.

For example, remember that when Mr. Rogers enters his house he always changes into a cozy sweater and a pair of sneakers? I do that too when I get home from work every day. I always get comfortable once I enter my home.

Now in case you aren’t aware, Fred Rogers is known to millions of people as a quiet, gentle man who hosted a long running television show for children. He was a remarkable guy and is widely believed to be one of the most effective communicators of the 20th century.

But did you know that he is also regarded as a role model for B2B marketers? I realize that might sound a little odd, but here’s why: Rogers believed in a “deep and simple” philosophy.

By following it, you can foster curiosity, focus your message and engage your audience on a human level rather than an abstract one. If we pursue this thinking, we will be better people as well as better marketers too.

And let’s face it, a lot of marketing tends to focus on abstractions, business jargon and complex communication.

If we want to connect with the people we want to influence, we need to dial back the business speak and communicate more simply and directly.

If that was the only takeaway from B2B Marketing Forum, that would be a terrific ROI. However, that’s not the only thing I walked away…

To Get and Keep Attention, Have a System

As marketers we all compete for attention … for our brands, products, services and executive team, but let’s face it, it’s challenging. But that’s also part of why we do what we do, we like a challenge!

It’s also why the session with Neen James caught my attention.

Her talk focused on teaching that getting and maintaining attention requires more than just content output or social media strategy – it requires a system.

I’ll put it to you this way, one example she gave is to use metaphors and analogies whenever possible in your marketing.

It’s because they convey information in a way that’s relatable and easy to understand. They’re memorable, repeatable, and Tweetable too.

It’s also the way our brains are wired. We relate well to metaphors and analogies.

Considering that attention spans are so short these days, and as marketers we only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention, tools that help us get and keep that attention are valuable.

Another insight James shared was to give people a model, a way to use your insights so they can put them to work for themselves, right away. If you do this, they’re more likely to remember you and your content because you’ve given them something of value. Isn’t that what we all want in the end?

In Closing…with Influencer Marketing

B2B Marketing Forum is led by Ann Handley, who’s a great writer, marketer and industry leader (and one of my marketing idols!). I’ve followed her for a long time and consider her newsletter to be one of the best: Annarchy (sign up, you can thank me later). She sends it out every two weeks, so you get time to really drink it in and meditate on it.

Ann brings in thought provoking speakers who are sure to challenge the status quo and even rock your world because they’re fun and lively on top of being thought provoking.

So, when Ann’s team invited me to participate as part of a panel about influencer marketing – I quickly accepted. Sharing the panel with me was Konstanze Alex and Janine Wegner of Dell.

We talked about best practices including how to integrate influencers into a larger marketing strategy, how to scale a program and how to get buy-in from key stakeholders.

Now when it comes to influencer marketing, keep this in mind:

  • There’s no trick to influencer marketing, it’s about how you engage your audience, especially in the world of post-GDPR.
  • The key ingredient to influencer marketing is engagement – creating engagement for your brand, for your company, for your product – in a real, authentic way.
  • Better than any other marketing strategy, influencers help you do that.

In closing, whenever I attend a conference, I like to pass on some strategies and tips to my team at SAP – things that are actionable. That means it’s got to be practical. And that’s what B2B Marketing Profs delivers #MPB2B.

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