Spring: when a young man’s fancy turns to….
Well, shoot. I just glanced at my calendar, and today is actually the first day of summer. I guess I was thrown off by all the unseasonably cool weather this year. But I think I can still salvage this blog post.
If spring is the season of fancy turning, summer is the season of turning fancy.
That is to say, it’s the season of pulling on our fanciest clothes and going to family weddings.
Now what, you may wonder, do family weddings have to do with marcomm, which is ostensibly the topic of the Content Bureau’s blog?
Well, family weddings are like a trade show. There’s lots of circulating and mingling. There are many opportunities for conversation.
There are some guests with whom you’re just dying to talk. There are others for whom a good overall impression will do. And then, there are a few whom you’d rather avoid entirely.
How can you accomplish all these goals while actually enjoying yourself? Just as you would at a trade show, focus on using the right marketing collateral.
Only, in this case, you won’t actually hire the Content Bureau to write anything for you. Instead, you’ll become the collateral.
Depending on whom you’re talking to, you’ll actually adopt the characteristics of different marketing pieces. Let’s see how this approach plays out with three common types of wedding guests.
Wedding Guest: Creepy Uncle
Marketing Collateral: Boring White Paper (In other words, not the engaging kind written by the Content Bureau.)
We’ve all seen white papers that begin something like, “In today’s competitive [X] market, companies everywhere are looking for ways to increase their competitive advantage.” They typically go on to mention “efficiencies,” “optimization,” and “strategy.”
Boring white papers are a great way to say a lot without actually saying anything. Which is exactly what you want to do when you’re drawn into a conversation with a Creepy Uncle.
Start off with a comment on what a perfect day this has turned out to be (I mean, does it ever actually end up raining at a wedding?). Then say it was a lovely service. Remark that Groom has always been a “really amazing” brother/cousin/exterminator to you. Say how happy you are that he finally settled down with Bride. Then ask if Creepy Uncle knows when they’re bringing out the Chableau Vinteaux Hautbois (a particularly fine wine I just made up). When he says no, tell him, “I’ll go ask,” and walk away – briskly – with a winning smile.
You’re now free. Creepy Uncle thinks he just had a conversation. As a marcomm expert, you know otherwise.
Wedding Guest: Second-Tier Relative
Marketing Collateral: Customer Success Story
Second-Tier Relatives are the non-creepy uncles, aunts, and cousins to whom you’d like to appear at least vaguely successful. When you encounter one, become a customer success story.
A good customer success story calls out highlights on page one. Do likewise. When Second-Tier Relative asks you what you’ve been up to since the last family wedding three years ago, give her bullet points: “Well, I’m still working at XYZ, Inc. Things are getting pretty serious with So-and-So. I’ve lost about 15 pounds with the kickboxing. I’m helping out at a ‘really amazing’ animal shelter. And I’m heading to Borneo this fall.”
Just be forewarned: if you do a good enough job on the bullet points, your Second-Tier Relative will want to hear your full success story. That’s two full pages, front and back. Think you’ve got 700 to 800 words in you?
Wedding Guest: Highly Successful Cousin, or Extremely Attractive Bridesmaid or Groomsman
Marketing Collateral: Email Campaign
Family weddings come with fringe benefits. You might get valuable face time with your millionaire cousin who runs a successful company that’s always hiring. Or, you’ll get to mingle with potential mates who are already in a romantic frame of mind – and have been sipping Chableau Vinteaux Hautbois.
Here’s where you really need to sell yourself. But don’t do it by selling yourself. Just as an email with the subject line “UNBELIVABLE [sic] DISCOUNTS ON THE WORLDS [sic] MOST AMAZING HEALTH PRODUCTS!!! [sic]” would get deleted, you’ll get deleted too if you come on too strong.
Instead, use your subject line to arouse curiosity. Years ago, there was a now-famous envelope teaser that read, “What never to eat on an airplane.” Who wouldn’t open that?
Start your conversation with something equally mysterious and intriguing: “You know, if I were stranded on a desert island and could only have five items with me, the cummerbund would be one of them….”
Keep your prospect wanting more. Once they’ve “opened” you, don’t just blurt out, “Can I have your number?!” Instead, lead them to that point gently and gradually. Stick to the story, with yourself as the payoff.
Think up a killer offer, and make it irresistible. Make them think, “What kind of an idiot wouldn’t click through to the landing page right now?”
Trust me, it works. I was once a groomsman at a wedding in Memphis and got one of the bridesmaids to drive with me across the Alabama state line, then right back.
You may have different goals, and I respect that. Using these self-marketing techniques, you’ll get through family wedding season with all the new leads you can handle.