While brands continue to wrestle with an increasingly toxic public discourse – hoping to dodge sensitive topics like former classmates at a high school reunion – marketers see an opportunity. To paraphrase CX expert Jay Baer’s early keynote at MarketingProfs B2B Forum, we live in an era of empathy deficits, where treating others with basic human dignity and kindness is no longer a given. Therefore, building interpersonal relationships based on respect and understanding is not only a powerful way to differentiate as a brand, but the responsibility of marketers who can help move the needle on bringing civility back to how we communicate with each other.
Emotional intelligence and empathy are the foundation of this year’s conference, exemplified by none other than Mr. Fred Rogers. Pitched as the Patron Saint of B2B Marketing, Mr. Rogers’ passion for human connection and understanding today serves as a hyper-relevant model for marketing excellence. How do we craft a narrative that resonates with the experiences of our customers? How do we build a community? How do get other departments invested in collaborating? Mr. Rogers preached the importance of putting yourself in other people’s shoes – it’s a remarkable simple solution to problems that can often feel so complex.
Quick side bar, a cursory internet search reveals very real support for getting Mr. Rogers canonized. We here at MarketingProfs B2B Forum might not have a huge say in the matter, but let the record show he definitely gets our vote.
Here’s a few other ways Mr. Roger’s message of compassion is finds itself in today’s world of B2B marketing:
- People just want you to pay attention. Author Neen James opened her session with poignant advice from a five-year-old: pay attention with your eyes. Truly being open to another’s ideas and experiences requires thoughtfulness, not lip service. People are perceptive and they know when you’re just going through the motions. Showing customers and audiences that you’re not only listening, but acting, reinforces the notion that your brand is willing to show up for them.
- Be sensitive to collaborator and partner needs. When I wrote last week that I was looking forward to Mary Ellen Slayter and Lee Price’s session on content ROI, I did not expect to spend so much time thinking about agency / client relationships. As a professional, I fundamentally believe that integrated marketing success hinges on the relationship between clients and agencies – it needs to be a partnership. Content marketing ROI skyrockets when stakeholders and SMEs are involved and invested, and that starts with cultivating a relationship based on mutual understanding and respect.
- Open the doors to your neighborhood. Keith Jennings of Jackson Healthcare posed a very interesting concept: marketers are not here to tell stories, we’re here to build narratives. The key difference being that stories have a set beginning, middle and end, whereas narratives are on-going and actionable. Narratives are inherently more accessible, as they give new audiences the opportunity to insert themselves and become a part of the community in meaningful ways. The trick? Think holistically about your industry, your brand and your clients. How do these disparate stories work together to paint an overarching picture? That’s the narrative to build momentum on.
If you’re attending MarketingProfs B2B Forum, swing on by Booth 117 for all sorts of swag, special guests and industry expertise from our own MARKeting Team. Won’t you be our neighbor?