Demand Generation and the 101 Freeway

What does the 101 Freeway have to do with demand generation?  Last week, I would have said “nothing”.  But, that was before I was ‘fortunate’ enough to experience the 101 Freeway traffic firsthand.

The Trip

On my trip to a great seminar on Channel Management delivered by Bruce Stuart from ChannelCorp (he’s got more of them coming up, be sure to grab a seat in one – certainly worth your time), I was southbound on the 101 Freeway headed to Santa Clara.  Pretty much out of nowhere, traffic came to a screeching halt.  No burning rubber on my rental car, thank goodness, but the 18-wheeler to the right of me did some fancy driving (and praying, I imagine) to keep from rear-ending the car in front of him.  Anyway, that is not really related to the story, but it left an image in my mind nonetheless.

What IS related to the story, and what drove me (pun intended) to write this blog, is what happened after we all safely brought our cars, nicely lined up single file in our respective lane, to a halt.  The motorcyles around us all started creating their own lane of traffic, literally on the dotted white lines.  Really, they can do that?  Not where I’m from.

As I watched this happen, motorcycle after motorcycle, it occurred to me that the only reason this could happen is because those people were using a different device to get from point A to point B.  It was shaped differently, powered differently, and controlled differently.  And, for the purpose of moving through traffic on the 101, it was the perfect device.

“Motorcycle” Marketing

I got to thinking, we as marketers always talk about cutting through the clutter, but we’re using the same big campaigns to do it.  Campaigns designed like 4-wheeled, high-capacity, high-powered vehicles.  And, more and more, we are wondering why these campaigns aren’t getting “through” to the audience at an ever increasing rate – more campaigns with lots of content, but little response, are essentially building traffic in the inboxes of our prospects and customers (kind of like when your 10 mile trip down the 101 takes 45 minutes instead of 15 minutes, like it does for those nifty motorcycles).  I started realizing as I sat in traffic in my rental car, that what I needed on this highway, and in my marketing mix, are some motorcycles.

Now that I know I need “motorcycle campaigns”, I have to figure out what it is.  What does a motorcycle marketing campaign look like?  We’ll, it’s small (in terms of content), quick (in terms of time to consume), powerful (in terms of relevance), and  – not to be under-appreciated – eye catching (in terms of interesting)!  It’s an email that draws a reader in because the subject line says something that they can’t turn away from without opening, because the body of the email says (not literally, but implied) “I know you are busy as heck, so I’m just going to tell you what you need to know”, and because the call-to-action is simple (“respond back to me and I’ll tell you more” or “here’s a video to watch with my email and telephone number at the end – call me if you want to talk afterward”).  Don’t make me read four paragraphs to find out that what made me open the email doesn’t even relate to what you’re telling me in the email.

Another motorcycle could also be a targeted tele campaign where the most the caller has to say is “we’ve recently helped a business just like yours do XYZ, would you like me to tell you how?”

Even another motorcycle could be intelligent, value-oriented, non-product-specific comments or posts in a social media environment.  Don’t tell them that you’ve got a great product for them, just give you a call.  Tell them what you’ve learned about your customer’s business when they’ve used your product, or even what you have coached other similar customers on to help them make the best decision on the product selection for their business (pitfalls, best practices, etc.).

These are all motorcycles – quick, succinct, interesting, and well…faster to get from point A (initial contact) to point B (lead generation) than the sedans and SUVs parked on the freeway all around them.

Solid Example

I have a recent example of this.  While I am not in the market for this particular product, I was compelled to respond back to the sender with a ‘thank you’ for the tact and care they took in making the experience with their campaign a positive one.

Here’s the email I received:

Subject: Thought you might be interested

Hi Ryan,

Hope you’re well.

I just wanted to pass along “abcxyz,” a really quick read that provides a “crash course” on how to apply display across your marketing mix, the best metrics to use, and what results to expect.  I hope you find it to be a useful resource.

In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions or would like to set aside some time to talk.

Best,

Hmm, subject line: ‘Thought you might be interested’.  OK, who is this?  I should probably open it.  So, I did.  Then, ‘just wanted to pass along…a quick read’ (well, I could probably make time for a quick read – and ‘crash course’ sounds fast).  Then ‘how to…best metrics…results to expect’ (this is all relevant to me).  ‘In the meantime, let me know if you want to set aside some time to talk’ (friendly offer to engage).

I sent this guy a note back saying that I appreciated the resource, the direct and succinct email, and his offer to engage, and that I would let him know after I looked over the document.  Simple enough.

So, all the fancy graphics, pretty colors, and copy-heavy campaigns are just like the sedans, SUVs, and semi-trailer trucks that clog the 101.  They may hold a bunch of stuff, be painted nicely and have leather interiors, but they still just take up space and clog the freeways of demand generation.

Vroom, Vroom

As marketers, we need to find more motorcycles.  Not for us, but for our customers and prospects.  Trust me, they appreciate it (as I did), and will respond accordingly, which will in turn help us get to our ultimate destination – leads for sales.

I hope you enjoyed taking a ride with me down the 101.  Next time you’re in traffic in San Fran, watch the motorcycles – they’re going places, and a lot faster than you are!

I’d love to hear your thoughts or other examples of “motorcycle” campaigns.  Leave me a note.

Take care,

Ryan

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  1. Eric Martin
    April 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Very nice metaphor, Ryan. You make a good point about cutting through the clutter and getting to the prospect/customer more quickly with a smaller, targeted message or vehicle. I’ll keep that one in mind. Next time you’re on the 101, though, please concentrate fully on driving and save the marketing theory thing for later!

  2. April 17, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Mind if I build on your analogy?

    Down here in San Diego, my husband has been trying to convince me that he needs to purchase a motorcycle so that he skip traffic when we move into our new house. But I’m worried about the risk that goes with riding. So we reevaluated the situation and uncovered a less risky solution that leveraged a few integrated “channels.” My husband’s company offers a shuttle from the train station (called The Coaster) to his work. So all I have to do is drive him to the Coaster Station near our house in the morning and pick him up in the evening. It’s safer than a motorcycle, faster than a car, and I know he’ll always be on time.

    As marketers we should always strive for the Motorcycle Campaigns. But there are often multiple decision-makers affecting how we execute. And sometimes you’ll run into stakeholders that are just too afraid to take the risk. By stepping back, looking at the bigger picture, and understanding all your points of integration, you can often find yet another new channel and way of getting to point B with less risk.

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