Marketers in 2016 are absolutely required to have several arrows in their quiver. It's not enough to just blog actively, to just send emails to your customers and prospects, to just blanket search engines with PPC ads. No one tool in isolation is going to get the job done, you've got to pull on each of the levers available to you in various amounts until you find that magical recipe. And even then, you've got to keep tweaking, cause what works on Tuesday may be obsolete by Wednesday.
There is one particular ingredient, though, that's absolutely crucial to the success of any tech company's marketing efforts: a healthy irreverence.
I Googled this quote to figure out who said it and came up with about fourteen different quoters, so I'm going to pretend it was Mark Twain (the patron saint of misquotations):
Don't take life too seriously. You'll never get out alive.
That's how it is for marketing. Inbound marketing 101 tells us that it's critical that prospects and customers believe that we have their best interests at heart, that we become "trusted advisors" to our customers, and that we're not solely here to sell them our wares. We're here to make sure they succeed, ideally with our offerings, but potentially without them.
If every single word you ever write about your company, product, service, or people is 100% dead-serious, no-laughing-matter, then you'll never be the folks that customers want to talk with about their challenges. They'll come to you for an update on features and benefits every technology refresh cycle, ping you if they have a support issue, and maybe, if you're lucky, offer a reference if you need them to.
But that's all. You won't hear from them if they have a problem elsewhere in their IT environment, even if it's something you may be able to help them solve. You won't hear if they're struggling to realize all of the benefits that they've expected from your solution. And those are the conversations you really want to be having. When you're a trusted advisor, when your customers know that you're not just there to sell them a bill of goods, your genuine sales efforts will be much more warmly received.
To that end, don't skip opportunities to show that you can be irreverent and that you can have a personality when it comes to marketing your solution. If you use stock photos in your blog posts, occasionally go with something off the wall—they're more eye-catching than the generic stuff anyway. If you're particularly active on social media, think like Old Spice and do things that aren't strictly related to your offerings. If you're an events person, make your event swag kind of ridiculous.
It's the eye-catching things that make a difference. Everybody remembers the Apple Superbowl ad with the track and field star throwing the hammer through the screen. It only aired once, but it became iconic. Almost two years ago, EMC jumped a truck over a moving racecar. Again, eye-catching, but not pertinent to the solution being offered.
What we're selling is not life-and-death. It makes our customers' lives easier, saves them money, accelerates new business... but it's not going to literally be the difference between surviving and not. Let's not treat our wares like they're the latest development in defibrillator technology. Have a sense of humor about what you're doing, be able and willing to laugh at it and at yourself, and your customers will appreciate that you're people, and they'll trust your advice much more for it.