Whatever Else It Is...
Remember You've Got Mail? Joe Fox (F-O-X), as you recall, held to the popular stance, "It's not personal, it's business."
Somewhere later in the movie, Kathleen Kelly rants a bit about "It's not personal." She says,
"What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn't personal to you. But it was personal to me. It's personal to a lot of people. And what's so wrong with being personal, anyway?"
Then she just nails it,
"Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal."
In business, and especially in marketing, it's very easy to get caught up in systems. We need systems to function properly, there's no doubt about that. But it's easy sometimes to only think in formulas: If I do this, I get that.
Don't Fall Into the Trap
It's especially easy to fall into the trap once you have a system that consistently turns out traffic, leads, customers, etc., because the temptation is to just let that inbound machine run. Similar to old outbound strategies where companies knew that for each direct mail piece, they'd get so many leads, and so many leads would become so many clients, many inbound marketers are guilty (or certainly in danger) of becoming just as robotic, just as impersonal.
It's easy for inbound marketing folks to sort of get superior about our methodology, because we've come up with a way to get people to come to us rather than us interrupting them. And make no mistake, permission-based marketing is the way to do marketing, but even permission-based marketing will eventually wear on people, especially once all the rebranded e-books and over-used calls to action and download tactics have flooded the marketplace. It's simply a matter of scarcity v. abundance. And it will happen to the best of us. People don't want to be victims of tactics.
Business to Human
Whether we're B2C or B2B, we need to be B2H (Business to Human). Every single day, we need to remember what it is to be human and really think through how we can connect with our clients and potential clients in the most authentic ways possible. We need to think through our offers and make sure we're adding true value and are not simply creating more noise. We need to watch and pay attention to what people are looking for and not simply assume we know what they want.
Numbers, data, strategy, it all matters, but what matters most is that we are human beings connecting with other human beings, and the only way we can continue to hold someone's attention and respect is by treating them with the dignity they deserve as human beings. The thing that makes permission-based marketing tick is the way it taps into giving people what they want and care about.
Don't lose sight of it. Remember your personas, not just so you know how to target them, but so you can know how to connect with them on a human level. Talk to people one-on-one via social rather than blasting them with another canned email. Produce e-book content that is engaging and interesting. Yes, it takes more time and energy to treat people and businesses individually, but it matters to them (and that should matter to you).
Think of it this way, if you're just producing more of the same kind of noise every other company is producing, you'll only ever get so far as everyone else doing the exact same thing. Is that all you want to be? Just another company in a swarm of companies? Remarkable doesn't just happen. Remarkable is personal, and remarkable takes time and hard work.
All that having been said, it is business, and I have a feeling that if poor Kathleen Kelly's charming bookstore had experienced a little WindFarm love, her business might have known a different fate. But that's another sort of story, I suppose. A story with a happier ending.
Maybe it's your story.