Sign spinners on the street corners: enthusiastic, colorful, hard to ignore. We notice them trying to draw in the lunch crowd, advertise tax services, or convince us to get a car wash. And….to capture the attention of lawmakers? What?
The Economic Security Project, a nonprofit, recently took to the steps of the Capitol – and other major political locations – spinning signs to draw attention to the need for another government check for cash-strapped families. It was a pretty big departure from their usual tactics: pressing the flesh at the Rayburn or Russell buildings or delivering petitions signed by thousands to elected leaders in person. But it achieved its intended effect: drawing attention to an issue affecting millions of struggling Americans.
Marketing and sales in the time of COVID has never felt trickier; we can’t do the normal things we know work in normal times. It’s not a normal time (how many times have we heard that in the last six months?). But that change also opens the door for us to rethink how we do marketing and sales in a pretty dramatic way (as the folks at the Economic Security Project can tell you). In my conversations with CMOs at B2B companies, the refrain I hear over and over again is that marketing and sales must have better alignment right now to do that. Here’s how to think about pushing both organizations to be better at this moment in time.
You need to say when it’s not good enough. Really. Having a great working relationship is important – but don’t prioritize it above being frank. If reps feel the need to make their own decks start to finish, the painful truth is the company deck isn’t good enough – and marketing needs to do better. If sales goes all cowboy, failing to use the three crucial positioning slides that are important to shifting the perception of the company, that’s also a sales management problem. Call them out and make enforcement part of sales management’s job.
Product marketing should double down on strategy
Product marketers sometimes forget they’re not a service organization, there to do whatever sales wants. No, you’re the frontline of marketing strategy. Your job is positioning the company, incorporating lessons from various sources and evolving it appropriately. Today you should message in a way that recognizes the new normal. Things are not the same for anyone – not inside your company, not with your customers, not anywhere. It’s also a good opportunity to revisit pricing so it’s an invitation, not an impediment. Remember: it’s not on the customer to figure out how to fit you into their reduced staff, budget, and shifting strategies. It’s on you.
You’ve heard the old story about putting the frog in a pot, and slowly turning up the heat. The change is so gradual, the frog doesn’t notice the water reaching the boiling point. In this version, the customer is the frog. Your usual marketing tactics are the water. This is not the time for incremental tactics, which don’t get noticed much, if at all.
Today is the time to push until you discover something great that is new to you and your customer’s experience of you. Your job is to get your company, product, or service noticed at a time when everyone is vying for extremely limited customer attention. What’s your sign-spinner equivalent? Don’t be afraid to look for inspiration from industries other than your own. Don’t immediately discount a clever tactic because “Oh, that’s consumer” or “Oh, that’s politics.” Don’t be afraid to do a throwback to the analog world while everyone rushes to digital. If it makes your target audience sit up and take notice, it’s worth a try. Just make sure it aligns with the customer deal cycle and your product mix.
Are you trying a sign-spinner equivalent? Let’s hear about it.