And it's Monday!
I hope all is well! As I've mentioned to you before, I've been on a mission to be a better marketer all around which means brushing up on my marketing foundation built in the past but also understanding the new formats and infrastructures that are our present and future.
In that spirit, I went to a BMA luncheon on Thursday featuring Gord Hotchkiss (Enquiro CEO) as moderator and Paul Gillin, Mark McMaster, Justin Levy and Steve Patrizi as the panel representing thought leadership as it pertains to effective and successful B to B marketing strategies in Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. Paul Gillin may have been my favorite but I learned a tremendous amount all the way around. And, assuming I know how to read an audience, people were ready to be delighted even before the speakers began. They weren't disappointed.
Note: Don't worry. I'm not going to rehash it. Not only do I respect your patience, it was tweeted quite a bit and I know enough to know that a post with regurgitated info is a boo boo of high proportions.
I'd like to focus on a question from the live audience (it was also distributed via webinar). A woman -- appearing to be a Baby Boomer -- stood up and essentially said that it was all well and good that there was a lot of business activity on the four channels but her view was that personal touch and the fine art of picking up a phone to make a personal contact seem to have disappeared which she considered a serious problem. She explained that she was a recruiter trying to fill positions and that no one seemed interested or motivated enough to act beyond sending or interacting on email which she found shocking. In other words, she was not a fan of social media or any of the content shared during the session.
Many people rolled their eyes, whispered and dismissed her -- not very nice. The panel did engage with her to discuss the root causes of what she's experiencing but she wasn't open to hearing: an "agree to disagree" moment if I've ever seen one! There are a couple of thoughts that occurred to me during the exchange that I'd like to share with you.
Self Awareness Matters. We all can agree that regardless of channel, we have to meet our customers on their terms be it the tone, the content, the offer or what have you. If we want their attention, it has to be by their rules. The recruiter was obviously frustrated with her perception of preferred communication channels and had a very clear idea of how the world "should" be. For the record, I agreed with her basic point that the personal touch or one to one contact is going away with the expansion of social media infrastructure and that it's somewhat of a problem.
But, I wondered what she thought she was doing to attract attention and engage with people versus what she was actually doing. Was she really engaging in ways that make jobseekers pick up the phone and call her after the interaction via email (or other channel)? Or, is it that the buyer's market has made her complacent and her view is more of "If I build it, they will come." approach (how some view marketing let alone social media marketing)? Her job is to sell jobs to interested job seeking buyers. Bad economy notwithstanding, any quick peek at job listings will show you that some are presented better than others (whether the actual jobs are better may be another story). If no one's calling her or engaging with her how she'd like, I'm thinking part of the problem is with her marketing strategy and how she presents herself.
This made me wonder how consistently critical we are as marketers of the quality of the message, of the delivery of the message, of the targeting of the message, of the clarity of the message and so forth? Are we aware enough or honest with ourselves when we could be doing better? Do we always hold the mirror up to ourselves when strategies fail or do we blame the customer? With online communities, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., it's easy to say that it's the fault of one bad apple, or a review taken out of context, some people don't understand, etc. The Nestle debacle is very much top of mind for me here. We can't fall into the trap of only pointing the finger elsewhere as the recruiter seems to have done.
Generation Matters. I mentioned that I believed this recruiter to be a Boomer. We all know that data indicate Millennials / Gen Y are the group most comfortable with social media multitasking with Gen Xers coming in second. Many Boomers are a bit more skeptical and cautious about it. Maybe even somewhat afraid -- let's be honest. Other data indicate that Gen X will help with the shopping recovery but that it's ultimately the Millennials who will consume our way out of the recession. Baby Boomers helped out the last time around but are not as much in a position economically either due to or regardless of life stage.
The easy way out would be to tell this woman to accept that things are changing rapidly and that she needs to hop on or get left behind. That totally misses the point even if it is technically correct. Boomers are people, too, and still are very much a part of this economy. Marketers make the argument that we need to respond to customers in ways that are meaningful to them so a) that they buy what we are selling, b) they come back for more and c) tell their friends and family about our product. If that is so, then there can't be fine print that says "except where Boomers are concerned." In point of fact, some on the panel said that there may be certain audiences, products or services that don't need the social media oversaturation let alone any kind of social media.
The recruiter may not fully "get" how the social media engine operates but it doesn't mean that she needs to all the time. The lesson here conjures up my last post about Engagement as a global, channel agnostic strategy (here). This is about the importance of nuance, tone and delivery. It is about the obligation to create strategies that respect our customers as opposed to what channel we prefer or what is easier for us to execute. Boomers still have money to burn. So, how can we find effective ways that are mindful of the new communication infrastructures but yet do not neglect more personal style of communicating which is still important to this group? If our global Engagement strategy is in place, as I previously argued, this generational treatment becomes one of many effective sub strategies.
What's your take on my tale at the BMA lunch? Were you there? Please share your thoughts -- I'd love to "hear" them.
Until Next Time,