Lessons from Boston
Exhausted, I was on my way back to our tenth floor room from a day full of learning and inspiration from industry thought leaders at the Inbound13 Conference in Boston. After hours of jam-packed sessions on everything from inbound marketing to inspiring your staff, I was ready to call it a day. I climbed aboard 1 of 6 deceivingly shiny elevators with four complete strangers. The ride started off normally, but as we passed the eighth floor, the elevator shuddered and abruptly stopped.
It wasn’t nearly as violent as they make it seem in the movies, but still bestowed a decent amount of concern upon myself and the other occupants. We then went through obligatory process of pushing the call button, relaying our situation, and carefully selecting certain buttons to press in an attempt to resolve our predicament. After a host of other almost comical conversations and situations, we ultimately survived. It wasn’t until I was washing my face in the sink afterwards that I realized several aspects of this less-than-uplifting situation had great parallels to the wild world of inbound marketing:
1. Survival skills look a lot like marketing decisions.
Immediately after the elevator stopped, everyone simultaneously and instinctively started making decisions that could directly affect theirs and everyone else’s future. The decision process went something like this:
Push elevator call button and try to clearly communicate situation.
Check for cell service and notify loved ones (and appropriate social media outlets)
Assess the situation and start making preparations for long term survival strategies. For example:
Calculate current amount of food/water on board and discuss plans to ration.
Discuss removing overhead lights to keep the elevator cool.
Size up other occupants for difficulty vs. nutritional value. should things resort to cannibalism. Just kidding.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized we make the same types of decisions about our marketing efforts. Some of them are immediate and almost instinctual.
Foshee’s Elevator Survival Marketing Strategy (patent pending…maybe)
Quickly determine the status of your marketing efforts.
What marketing channels are you currently using?
What measurable results can you track?
Are there any known or historical assets or threats to take into account?
Formulate all available data into a baseline of your marketing performance.
Educate the necessary people about the history of your marketing efforts, what you established in the discovery phase and any other strengths or weaknesses they should be mindful of.
- Immediately establish a long-term goal (Marketing Plan) and provide tactical suggestions on how to successfully get there (Blogging, SEO, Social Media, PR etc.).
2. Social Media Managers MUST be empowered to do more.
The next big revelation came to me after I posted the tweet below about our moderately funny situation.
Stuck in an elevator on the 8th floor @sheratonhotels Boston... Getting kinda toasty.— Richard Foshee (@RichardFoshee) August 21, 2013
In less than 10 minutes I had three responses from the Sheraton Hotel's Twitter account offering profuse apologies, letting us know they were contacting the hotel directly, and letting us know that the fire department was on scene and working to get us out. They also made it clear that we could reach out to them 24/7 for assistance.
This one hit me like a freight train. We aren’t in the dawning days of companies using social media anymore. The Sheraton Hotels had it figured out. If we rely on our social teams to just post/tweet content then we have completely missed the true value and power that social media gives us. It is essential for companies to allow their social media staff to act, by providing support directly to the customer, or just rewarding your biggest social promoters. Social media managers have an amazing power at their fingertips that can benefit brand and strengthen customer relationships like no other tools before it.
3. Understanding buyer personas can help in almost any situation.
The final thing I learned on that elevator actually worked in reverse. As part of our inbound marketing strategy, we target all our efforts on specific buyer personas. You can read more about buyer personas here.
I realized in sharing the details of the elevator ride with a colleague later, that I had instinctually given each of these people riding with me a “buyer persona” without even knowing their names. In a matter of moments I had analyzed each person and made decisions about how I was going to act, communicate and otherwise position myself when engaging them. So among the moderately sleazy sales rep, the exhaustively frazzled soccer mom, the fashion-forward fellow, and the perfectly precious and supportive middle-aged wife, I learned a life lesson from marketing. Being able to understand who someone is quickly will help you, connect with them, communicate with them more effectively and achieve a better result than if you are only focused on yourself.
In closing I would like to say a big thanks to the Boston Fire Department and the Boston Sheraton for your speed and professionalism. It is because of you that we didn’t have to resort to cannibalism. We love you, and can’t wait to be back in Beantown!
image credit: sattva/freedigitalphotos.net