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4 Lessons About B2B Inbound Marketing from a Sunday Morning in the Coffee Shop

I was in Starbucks the other day, and in walks an older gentleman. I couldn’t help but notice that people kept focusing on him and chatting him up — in line, while waiting for a drink, etc.

I could overhear the conversations a bit, so I asked someone sitting near me, “Was that guy in the NFL or something?” He responded, “Yeah, that’s Rocky Rochester. He was defensive tackle for the New York Jets in Super Bowl III.”

He happens to sit by me, and we strike up a conversation. He notices I’m wearing a Hofstra shirt, and he says, “Hey, we used to practice there.” Then, when I notice his Super Bowl ring on his finger and mention it, he does something that simply shocks me.

He just hands it to me. So, I’m sitting there, holding a ring from Super Bowl III. The Super Bowl of Super Bowls. Broadway Joe. The Guarantee.

I share this story because inbound marketing was on the top of my mind in that coffee shop on Sunday morning — the team at our sister company, MarketingSherpa, was putting the finishing touches on the Quick Guide to Inbound Marketing for B2B  — and I realized this story was the perfect analogy for effective inbound marketing. Often, we get so focused on data and metrics, technology and automation that we overlook everyday human interactions like this.

However, normal human interactions are what we should be trying to emulate with our marketing, especially inbound marketing.

Lesson #1: B2B inbound marketing gets you recognized

The first lesson speaks to the power of inbound. Whatever you’re selling — marketing automation tools, hospital diagnostic equipment, construction software — your buyers have a list in their head. It’s the consideration list.

I need to buy a B2B product. I can’t consider every possible company. Who’s going to make that short list?

When you create an engaging inbound B2B program and build an audience, you’re like Rocky Rochester. No longer are you just another guy in a Starbucks. You’re someone everyone wants to talk to. And hear from.

And the value of that has a ripple effect through your marketing. When prospects are at a trade show scanning booths, name recognition makes them much more likely to engage. When they get a phone call or email from someone representing your company, they’re more likely to give it a small opening. And, when they’re making that all powerful consideration or RFP list, you’re more likely to be on it.

Lesson #2: Have a good story to tell

Recognition isn’t enough. Prospects must have the desire to actually want to engage with that brand.

Sure, it helps to have the biggest brand in the world in your industry. However, if customers know they will only be sold to when they engage with you, they’re much less likely to seek out your content or subscribe to your newsletter.

The reason everyone was engaging Rochester in that coffee shop is they knew he would have good stories to tell.

On the flip side, if everyone had recognized him as, say, a vacuum cleaner or insurance salesman, they likely would have had that moment of recognition as well. However, they also likely would have gone out of their way to avoid him, not engage him.

Lesson #3: Effective B2B inbound marketing is relevant

When we were talking, Rochester noticed my Hofstra shirt, and he mentioned how the Jets would practice at Hofstra.

It’s a minor detail. And it happens naturally in a human conversation.

But all of your inbound marketing should, as closely as possible, replicate these human interactions and seek to provide relevant, helpful content to your audience.

Do you give your audience different email newsletters to subscribe to based on their interests? Do you de-dupe email sends when you know someone has already taken advantage of the offer — for example, removing people who have already registered for a webinar from the invite?

What can you do to make your B2B inbound program more relevant to customers?

Lesson #4: Surprise and delight your audience

Once they know who you are, are interested in your story, and know it’s relevant…still, these are busy people with a million different concerns. Even if they’re reading your blog post, they’re probably skimming it and only half reading it. And, how likely are they to share it with their social network?

To stick out from the clutter, you really need to delight them.

When I noticed Rochester’s ring, I didn’t expect him to hand it to me. It was so far above and beyond my expectations that I didn’t even think to take a picture of the ring on my finger until the moment was well over, and I had left the Starbucks. D’oh!

How can you surprise and delight your prospects? How can you go above and beyond? Here’s a great example from the Quick Guide to Inbound Marketing for B2B with New Relic, a software analytics company.

The company had a photo booth at an event and turned the photos of visitors — along with their answer to the phrase “Data helps me ___” — into virtual picture billboards it shared on social media. A great inbound strategy — customers hearing from customers.

But, the New Relic team didn’t stop there. They decided to surprise and delight. They turned the virtual billboards into tiny physical billboards that they then mailed to the customers. What do you think happened when they received those billboards in the mail?

They were surprised and delighted, so they shared that story with their peers on social media. Just like I’m sharing my minor brush with Super Bowl history with you.

“It’s really important to connect on that personal level, because no matter how big the companies that you’re selling to may be, they’re still people. And any time you can find a way to engage that’s a little unexpected and fun, that makes a huge difference,” said Baxter Denney, VP of Growth Marketing at New Relic.

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

You might also like

B2B Inbound Marketing: Top tactics for social media, SEO, PPC and optimization

Inbound Marketing: How a B2B company used a content marketing strategy to improve customer experience

B2B External Communications: How IBM conveys the value of complex products, spotlights innovative employees and entrusts employees with social media

Inbound Marketing for B2B: 10 tips to attract and engage your audience in a helpful (not salesy way)


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The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 180

The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 180

Fulham Road and we’re staying near the top. Continuing a theme from yesterday I first started exhibiting with David Gill Gallery and working with Francis Sultana here in late 2004. The first piece I made for them was a massive nativity scene that went in the window and we’ve been working together ever since. The premises then became Francis Sultana’s own HQ doing rich, sumptuous interiors and furniture.

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©Barnaby Barford 2014

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The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 181

Lee High Road near Lewisham today and this fantastic looking audio shop. I think all the shop fronts portray the character and personality of the shop owner. Lewisham was most likely to have been founded by a pagan Jute, Leof, who settled (by burning his boat) near St Mary’s Church (Ladywell) where the ground was drier, in the 6th century. As to the etymology of the name, Daniel Lysons (1796) wrote:

“In the most ancient Saxon records this place is called Levesham, that is, the house among the meadows; leswe, læs, læse, or læsew, in the Saxon, signifies a meadow, and ham, a dwelling. A Latin legal record, dated 1440, mentions a place in Kent as Levesham which may refer to Lewisham. It is now written, as well in parochial and other records as in common usage, Lewisham.”

This notion of house amongst the meadows really solidifies the idea that London is not just one big city but a myriad of small villages all joined together.

#london #londonlife #lovelondon #art #contemporaryart #picoftheday #photooftheday #V_and_A #1882ltd #architecture #shop #shopoftheday #vamtowerofbabel #towerofbabel #lewisham #lee #billyvee #soundsystem

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©Barnaby Barford 2014

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The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 152

The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 152

Since we are fully into the build now of the actual Tower structure I thought we could have a look at London’s hardware stores.  Chiswick today and good to see an 01 phone number.  Classic shop front.

291 Chiswick High Road Chiswick W4 4HH

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©Barnaby Barford 2014

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The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 155

The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 155

TV fame today and the most renound fried chicken shop in the land?? @Channel4 #friedchickenshop in Clapham.  At the start of this whole project I derided the shops lower down on The Tower. Especially the Chicken Shops.  Having now really had a chance to think about the whole hierarchy of The Tower and what it means to own and run a shop, I have changed my position considerably and I take my hat off to all the shop owners on The Tower.  I boggle at the competition that the chicken shop and pound shop owners have, how they are able to make a profit with such low prices.  In one way The Tower could be seen as a real celebration of survival, of entrepreneurial spirit.  Although on the other hand it could be seen as the capitalist beast described in Sir Thomas Moore’s Utopia…..

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©Barnaby Barford 2014

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The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 156

The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 156

Back to where it all started, well the production anyway.  This renowned French patisserie on Greek St is where I had my first meeting with  #1882Ltd – the manufacturers who have made the Fine Bone China Shops. Maison Bertaux was founded in 1871. Owned by sisters Michele and Tania Wade, it is known as the headquarters of the artist @MartinFirrell. The upstairs tea room shows work by comedian and artist @NoelFielding and members of Icelandic band @SigurRos among others. It is also the home of the The Maison Bertaux Theatre Club, which performs within the tiny confines of the shop. I had a long conversation with one of  the lovely sisters who was asking my opinion of what colour she should paint the frontage.

It is thought to take its name from a Greek Church, which was built in 1677 in adjacent Crown Street, now part of the west side of Charing Cross Road. The church is depicted in William Hogarth’s ‘Noon’ from Four Times of the Day.

Maison Bertaux, 28 Greek Street,Soho, W1D 5DQ

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©Barnaby Barford 2014

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The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 153

The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 153

Willesden, got to be one of the best areas for shop frontage.  Take this beauty for example. Sticking with Hardware stores.  I wonder how long some of these shops will be around having just read this on wikipedia: In 2015, The Telegraph listed Willesden Green as one of their new middle-class areas of London. House prices around the station, and surrounding areas, have “outpaced the oligarch and banker hotspots of Chelsea, Westminster, and even Knightsbridge.” The Guardian mentioned Willesden Green’s fast gentrification, as well as that of nearby Queen’s Park and Kensal Green, as sending a “ripple through the borough.”

100 Craven Park Road Willesden NW10 8QD

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©Barnaby Barford 2014

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The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 154

The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 154

Had a request today so we find ourselves in Broad Lane, Seven Sisters and Tony’s Dry Cleaners.  Apparently as well as cracking service he has a female mannequin in the shop that has been dressed the same for at least 4 years.  So here’s from Martyn championing his local community. The name Seven Sisters is derived from seven elms which were planted in a circle with a walnut tree at their centre on an area of common land known as Page Green. The clump was known as the Seven Sisters by 1732.

In his early seventeenth-century work, Brief Description of Tottenham, local vicar and historian William Bedwell singled out the walnut tree for particular mention. He wrote of it as a local ‘arboreal wonder’ which ‘flourished without growing bigger’. He described it as popularly associated with the burning of an unknown Protestant.[5] There is also speculation that the tree was ancient, possibly going back as far as Roman times, perhaps standing in a sacred grove or pagan place of worship.

97 Broad Lane, Seven Sisters, South Tottenham N15 4DW

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©Barnaby Barford 2014

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The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 147

The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 147

South West and Merton today as we continue our quest amongst the booze shops of London. Best off licence in South London??? That’s quite a claim but it has been given that accolade by some. Run by an affable Irish man apparently it is chocker block with quality beer, cider and rum (sounds like heaven to me) all to be browsed and bought to a backdrop of good jazz – nice.  This Shop front gets top marks from me too. Excellent font choice, does what it says on the tin sign! 

168A Merton High Street Merton, South Wimbledon SW19 1AZ

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©Barnaby Barford 2014

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The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 149

The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 149

This shop is brilliant, simple as that. From the name (it sort of evokes woolworth pick’n’mix for adults) to the font (I really like the way wine and beers are made to look like barrels) , to the colour, to the size of the sign, to the hundres of luminous cards in the window with booze offers.  Great!

29 Goldhawk Road Shepherds Bush W12 8QQ

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©Barnaby Barford 2015

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