We want everything fast, don’t we?
In marketing, we want more leads, more pipeline, more brand awareness… and more fans, followers, and friends.
But, ironically, the companies that have the biggest, most sustainable business wins won’t get there by going faster. Instead, they will get there by… wait for it… slowing down. (And by doing less. But more on that another time.)
More specifically: they will get there by slowing down at the right moments.
The key to success in modern marketing is to flip from As SOON as Possible (move fast all the time) to As SLOW as Possible (move slowly at critical moments).
In an era of content abundance and channel overload with possibilities everywhere always and all the time and immediate and OMG Why are there only 24 hours in a day….
Why should you pause? (Full stop.)
Slow down? (Take a beat.)
And do less?
Why would I suggest slow marketing as a marketing strategy?
Doesn’t conventional wisdom hold that when you slow down, you’re road kill? That when you’re slow, you’re a slacker?
Nope. The opposite is true.
We go faster when we slow down.
Because (…and I feel another H3 subhead birthing itself right here on this hot WordPress):
Slow is more sustainable: for programs, for companies, for people.
The smartest companies sometimes take a slow marketing approach—which (ironically) delivers faster results in the long term.
What are the critical moments when marketing needs to slow down? How do we recognize those “slow moments” that we need to embrace?
We can uncover them by asking (and answering) a series of clarifying questions. The most important one—especially for creating more effective content and more relatable writing—is this:
(It sounds flippant, I know. But it’s not.)
I’ve talked about this before in Everybody Writes.
In writing, the idea is to reframe a piece of communication from the perspective of the reader, by asking “So what?” and then answering “Because…” until you’ve exhausted your ability to reach a reasonable answer.
Let’s zoom in for demonstration purposes, mmkay?
Snack Mix for B2B
Right now, I’m folded into a window seat, passing 30,000 feet over Philadelphia.
The flight attendant just offered me a tiny square pack of snack mix. (Pretzel twists. Seasoned bread sticks. What appears to be off-brand Cheez-It style crackers.)
What if you’re in business-to-business snack marketing, tasked with selling these familiar little packs to airline procurement departments?
(Side note: Is B2B Snack Mix Marketer a career choice? I want to believe yes.)
Slow Marketing Moment for B2B Snack Mix Marketer (SMMB2BSMM): I want to drive awareness of and interest in our new Tastee-brand passenger snack mix to all the major carriers.
SMMB2BSMM: Because our Tastee-brand snack mix features high-quality nourishment for your passengers. It’s a perfect blend of salty and savory, packaged both conveniently and attractively. And it’s shelf-stable—lasting for literally years inside in-flight trolley carts. It won’t rot or turn stale or rancid.
SMMB2BSMM: Because bad, inedible snacks will inspire your customers to mock you on social media. Flying literally sucks: They already are poised to hate you. Bad snacks could be the last straw that might inspire a negative hashtag. Which could trend.
SMMB2BSMM: Because that’ll be embarrassing to you, Ms. Carrier Procurement. More importantly, your airline brand will suffer because of your subpar snacks. And you’ll suffer when the Director of Procurement scapegoats you.
SMMB2BSMM: Because suffering is… umm… bad. And jobless is… debilitating.
You get the idea. So the our Slow Marketing Moment B2B Snack Mix Marketing Writer might get to something like this:
Our new Tastee snack blend will do more than just nourish your bored passengers. The blend will delight your passengers because it’s a cut above typical airline fare—so much so that they’ll maybe be inspired to share the good vibes on social media. They’ll Instagram selfies with the fun packaging (did you notice the packets are square, like Instagram?)
Happier customers make for more brand loyalty, and more brand loyalty makes for a more successful company and a happier work culture.
You’ll be a hero! You’ll get your picture on the break room bulletin board! Your own parking spot! The works!
B2B Snack Mix Marketing is a ridiculous premise
Whether you sell snack mix or motor oil, cacti or kittens: This “so what?” question is the Slow Marketing Moment makes you hit pause.
And embracing that Slow Marketing Moment can help you reframe a product or service as a clear value for the customer. It becomes a shortcut—a kind of “hack”—to achieving empathy with customers.
If you slow down and ask yourself this question before starting every marketing program and every piece of content and everything you write as part of that program, you will serve your customers—to the benefit of your brand.
But you’ll do that by avoiding droning on about your brand. You’ll avoid making your brand the focus instead of the things that matter to the people you are trying to reach. (Really, they don’t care about you all that much.)
You’ll put your products in the context of your customers’ lives… instead of the other way around.
The so what question is an empathy shortcut, and it’s also a humility shortcut.
It takes you and your brand out of the story—and puts your audience at the heart of it. It makes your customer the hero of your story.
And, ironically—and this is the wonderful part—slowing down enough to ask and answer that series of questions will get you results faster and more successfully.
At its heart the question embraces the philosophy of what the very best marketing really is: understanding our customers and helping them make the best decisions by framing things on their terms, not ours.
And that’s true whether you sell apps, apples, appliances, apparatuses, airplanes… or the snack mix they carry.