19 March 2010

Showing Your True Colors - Demand Gen Style

In sales and marketing, we often struggle with trying to communicate a unified voice to our audience - namely, we call the same things the same names, we try to use the corporate fonts, and in the case of events, you'll see the waves of blue-shirted soldiers lined up in corporate booths waiting to all sound alike to you (as a consumer). There is power in having a brand identity that is easily recognizable - think of the Apple artwork of the reverse silhouettes from their iPod campaigns, or Pepsi's use of the classic royal blue in its logo and packaging.

However, there should be a limit to this in person-to-person interactions.

How many times have you received an email from person X and the same email from person Y at some later date? If you are speaking with different people from the same company at an event, can they explain the concepts and technology differently - or does it all sound scripted?

As a former manager of a business development team, I matched personalities and behaviors with territories that they covered....because at days end, people like to buy from people like themselves. My fast talking, to-the-point (but very nice) rep covered the northeast corridor - because if you try to send anyone else in to sell to a New Yorker, you let me know how that goes. I paired my best listener and somewhat reserved personality with the South territory since she could get any harried IT Director to speak to her for an hour just because she listened and did not come across as brassy to a Texan.

Organizations should be concerned about their brand (case in point the Nestle Twitter debacle of this week) but never lose sight of the individuality that exists and what collectively makes the company's humanity factor greater and often more powerful to their buying audience. If you have "standard" emails, encourage a level of personalization that your reps can add their own stamp to - a phrase that they will most likely echo on a phone conversation will make that email "click" with that prospect. If you run webinars, inject personality and difference amongst your speakers, emcees, and panelists.

In tradeshows, go with the corporate shirts if you must - but allow funky jewelry, different options in some part of the attire, or heck, let them show a tattoo on their forearm! I had a memorable experience at a show a few years ago when a prospect that I had been trying to speak with the entire conference saw me start to break down my booth (it was the end of the show and he was wandering around) and he came over. Since the show floor had supposedly closed, I had run to the ladies room and changed out of my "tradeshow uniform" and as a result, some of my tats were showing.

He recognized me - and was interested in learning about what one of my tats translated to (they are in Gaelic). Slightly flustered, dusty and holding a banner stand case, we started talking. And kept talking. Out of all the leads from that show, he was the knockout. Now - maybe he was busy the whole show and didn't have time to speak to the other 10 people during three days.

But just maybe, he chose to speak with me because I was no longer a faceless, voiceless member of that company...instead, I was a real person who could still discuss the "company brand" but do so while not encased in a corporate shell.

So to quote my girl Cyndi Lauper:

I see your true colors
and that's why I love you
so don't be afraid to let them show
your true colors
true colors are beautiful
like a rainbow

The KISS Question is "how have you let your true colors show in demand generation?"



7 comments:

  1. 9.99 as I hold up the scorecard

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  2. Some companies just don’t get it when it comes to lead and opportunity generation. They go to trade shows give away useless crap to get as many business cards, or scan as many badges as possible and come back touting huge numbers of leads. The reality is, they bring back a ton of useless leads that get handed over to reps and waste their time sifting through them when they could have gotten qualified opportunities with a chance to close. Great post Brigid!

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