I admit, I may be a little sensitive having just stepped off the Playa. My expectations of innovation have been elevated. But come on people, just because it’s B2b marketing doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Actually, I’m being nice to call what I experienced last week boring. The “demand generation” hit I experienced for Marketing Sherpa’s fall B2b summit was just plain ‘ol lazy. Not only did it daze and confuse me, but it conjured up images of nasty little muffins, stale coffee, bowls of rock hard candy, and zombies in coordinated Ann Taylor outfits. Yikes!! Not even the promise of oysters at Daniel’s can get me on a plane to Boston for this.
For those of you who’ve previously had the priviledge of recovering from Burning Man you’ll know what I mean when I say I had a little lul in my energy last week. In an attempt to keep my eyes open, I checked my personal e-mail. We do this sometimes. There was a note from someone on LinkedIn I didn’t recognize with this subject line: “Invitation for MarketingSherpa’s 8th Annual B2B Summit this fall.” The inappropriate case usage in the subject line caught my attention immediately. So I read on. In the first paragraph there was an offer to attend at a discount. “Wow,” I thought, “I guess they’re having trouble filling seats.” Given the event was in Boston I thought I’d give it a look. Who doesn’t want to go to Boston in the fall? The cryptic note took me to a video of people, marketing people I think, generically raving about past conferences. All of this was filmed in what looked like a hotel conference room. You know what I mean, brown walls, long skinny tables, low ceilings, people looking sleepy. I eagerly searched for specifics. Who’s presenting? What are the hot topics? What…were…the…outcomes? Nothing. So then I thought, there must be a link here somewhere with an agenda. Again, nothing. Just a generic video of talking heads at a conference. I could do better filming my clean up from Burning Man.
I responded to the e-mail with a thanks, but where is it, what is it, and why do I care? I got an e-mail apology back not only providing me a link to the conference details but also urging me to sponsor the event. Okay, now you’ve gone and done it. You bored me, gave me no value, showed me a glimpse of a not so turned on event and now you have the nerve to want me to sponsor you?
I’m really disappointed in MarketingSherpa for breaking three major rules of B2b marketing so blatantly:
1. B2b marketing is targeted at PEOPLE in business. People are people no matter where they go. In this business environment, you can pretty much bet that they are time-strapped, and crabby. With all the bids for their attention throughout the day, any little bit of time you request from them should be valuable. Give them shiny things to look at with valuable messages that provoke visions of renewed passion, and energy, and they’ll probably pay double. Give them brown, boring zombies, sucking on stale coffee and day old donuts and if you hit the wrong worker, well, you get a free blog post.
2. Make sure your value proposition is clear and easily recognizable within seconds. Back to the people and time thingy. No really, this is important. If I don’t get what you’re trying to get me to do it about 6.5 seconds, you’re screwed. Fortunately (well depending on how you look at it) I was curious because I have a lot of respect for and interest in MarketingSherpa. It took me a request back to the marketer to actually get to the point of the contact which was to ask me to sponsor the event. They didn’t really want me there and for sure they don’t now. They needed sponsorships for the event. I’ll tell you MS, sex it up a bit, put some really slick content together, get some smart, energetic people together, prove it, and I’m there. I might even spring for a sponsorship. In this case, the video, a testimonial piece, would have been nice as a reinforcement.
3. Know your target and speak to their needs. In business, understanding the role your target plays and creating a value proposition that connects to their needs is pretty basic. I know titles are weird these days. However, SVP, Director of CRM at a global advertising agency probably doesn’t indicate that I have a budget for marketing. And in fact, I don’t. My budgets come from my clients. Tell me I’m going to learn stuff that will make my clients think I’m a genius, now that might just make me want to walk to Boston.
So there you have it. My little Monday morning rant. MarketingSherpa, this is not personal. I still read you every week. I love your research. I respect your knowledge. Try taking some of your own advice and maybe I’ll see you next year.