“We need a marketing and sales strategy that’s going to get us in front of the right people and get them to take action. What do you suggest we do?” I sat back for a moment to gather my thoughts. As I leaned back, the slight creaking of my leather chair was the only sound in a room of 12 seasoned sales and marketing pros.
This wasn’t a sexy business. As a vacuum parts distributor, they sold the kinds of products most people don’t even know exist, but their customers rely on these parts to keep their businesses moving.
I’ve been here before. Too many times if I’m honest. I already knew some of the people in the room. I knew how long they’d been in business, the years of servicing clients and the innovative ways they’ve solved challenges. I knew there were people at the table who absolutely loved sharing and, in most cases, showing off their remarkable knowledge of things most people will never know and most take for granted.
I started by asking a few questions. “Who in here knows the most common challenges of your customers?” Every hand went up. “Who has stories of rare and even strange situations a customer has gotten into?” Every hand went up. “Who has sold a product where, on more than one occasion, the customer has reached out with questions related to installing or using the product?” Every hand went up.
“Who here shares these stories and knowledge?” A few hands went up. “If I wanted to find these solutions or stories, who in here could tell me where to go to get my hands on them?” All hands went down.
This is when I get to look smart. I smirked a bit and said, “Then to answer your question is simple: show and tell.”
Chances are pretty good you’ve been in similar meetings with seasoned, talented teams pouring over the best adjective to describe a product or service. We painstakingly go through images, headlines and positioning of ads or trade show booths. A mind-blowing amount of money goes into promoting the years in business, the size of inventory, the most recognizable brands in stock and the fact that you were business of the year three years running.
But the biggest asset you have is tucked away in between the ears of everyone in that room. And it’s free, paid for by years of experience.
How do you create a remarkable campaign to drive awareness, build loyalty, get more meetings and close more deals? Show and tell. You share the collective knowledge of your team, preferably on video.
I want to share some examples of companies who have capitalized on show-and-tell marketing. As you read about them, I want you to think of how you may be able to leverage similar ideas for your products or services.
Entertaining and Teaching
For as long as we’ve had the written word, we’ve had recipes. Celebrity chefs and billion-dollar food brands have all leveraged cookbooks to promote themselves, sell more and grow loyal fans. The emergence of cooking shows followed, many of which became blockbuster hits. People from across the globe tuned in not to learn about the ingredients but how to put those ingredients together in a way that produced something remarkable.
Some smart people figured this out and capitalized on it. Do I really need to purchase that organic peanut butter? Yes, if you want to make the dreamy dessert you just watched your favorite celebrity chef cook up. And to get the flavor just right, it must be this brand.
The barrier to entry for decades was, of course, production. The lights, camera and action aren’t cheap. The printing and publication of books were equally cost-prohibitive. But it’s no longer a matter of cost, thanks to the Internet, but instead a matter of creativity and willingness to share.
Enter Buzzfeed and its Tasty.co (that’s not a typo; it’s .co, not .com). The food blog started posting short overhead videos (you only see the food being prepared) on Facebook and Instagram three years ago. The site has exploded, with some individual videos racking up as many as 170 million views. Collectively, Tasty’s videos have produced more than 1 billion views.
That’s the power of show and tell vs. the written word or individual features of one ingredient. Tasty doesn’t draw eyeballs because it’s showcasing grass-fed beef. It’s drawing eyeballs by showing you how to do amazing things with it.
One of the all-time classic examples of great show-and-tell marketing is the BlendTec video series. Its “Will It Blend” videos show the product in action, blending up smart watches, golf balls, a crowbar and recently an Amazon Echo. The company showcased the product by make it entertaining — doing ridiculous blending exhibitions to showcase the power and efficiency of the product in a way that was shareable.
While competitors were focusing on the features of the components, warranty information and comparative power to other brands, BlendTec decided to have fun and answer a question, although a question meant as a sort of joke, from customers and prospects alike: “Can it blend a [insert item here]?”
I have a Breville espresso machine in my home. When the “clean me” light came on, I was at a loss. I had tossed the manual months ago and couldn’t figure out how to clean the darn thing. So I did what most people in my position would do — I went to YouTube. •
This is a missed opportunity for Breville. I’m positive others have been as frustrated as I was, but there is simply no easy way to get this knowledge from Breville. However, a YouTube search produces several results.
The top result is from a guy called “BeardedGenius.” He has 631 followers, which is nothing, but the video on “How to Clean the Breville Espresso Coffee Maker” had 309,000 views! Other videos by people you’ve never heard of have six-figure views as well.
If I were Breville, I’d create a product-specific video series, or channel, for each major product and print the domain name right on the product itself.
It’s Right in Front of You
Content marketing has been a buzz word for the past several years. Most companies struggle coming up with content. The fact is, you have a plethora of remarkable content hidden in plain sight. And the best part is, you can repurpose it in countless ways.
Let’s say you create a video series on common installation challenges for a specific product. Once created, you can convert them into blog posts or written articles. As you compile more of these, you can craft a white paper or downloadable e-book focusing on the entire series of challenges.
You can create a story-telling series where employees, techs or customers share some of the more remarkable, odd or unusual stories from on the job or in the field. Hire a graphic artist on a freelance site to craft fun art to go with each story and turn the videos into blog articles, downloadable documents and on and on.
Ask your customer service team to identify the top 10 questions or complaints from customers. That can kick off the first 10 pieces of knowledge you share.
If you have a great company culture and pride yourselves on being resourceful, innovative and problem solvers, then prove it! Have members of your team identify a problem or challenge they’ve personally solved. It can be something as practical as a method someone has for never spilling coffee or as innovative as troubleshooting a common smartphone issue.
Whatever they are, they can give you an advantage by connecting with the market on a more personal level and letting the outside world see your unique culture, all while teaching something of value.
You have a unique opportunity to create the kind of content your sales and marketing teams can feed off of to build awareness and grow sales.
You don’t need to invest a ton of money into production equipment or expensive traditional ads. All you need to do is tap into the collective knowledge of your team and find unique, fun ways to share that knowledge.
If you’re looking for some magic to help build momentum for your business, instead of thinking about the best ways to advertise, you may want to start by asking your team to create a list of everything you can teach.
As for the vacuum client, I’ll keep you posted. We are currently working on a full how-to series combining both traditional troubleshooting and more comical, fun challenges tentatively titled. “Well, that sucks.” Stay tuned.