The other day I did something that seems contrary to conventional marketing strategy.
I gave something away, without collecting email addresses.
* gasp *
Shocking, I know, right?
Except… what if there was reason to my madness. What if, in fact, there were three reasons I shared a post to all my major social profiles that invited my connections and followers to grab a resource – something that took me a ton of time to pull together – reasons that spoke to a deeper, more significant marketing strategy than simple lead generation.
A strategy and tactic that’s already led to not only increased engagement and relationships, but tangible business benefits.
I’ll share with you what I did, and the reasons for it (and why it worked beautifully)…
But first, I’d like to share an important announcement with you:
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So let’s talk marketing strategy and tactics and why, sometimes, it’s a good idea to give things away that we might typically use for lead generation.
If you’ve ever created an eBook or some other digital resource to entice people to join your email list, you’re familiar with the concept of a lead magnet. The idea is, create something of value to your target audience that you can give away at scale – a digital file or document of some kind typically – and as you promote that new resource, you invite your audience to fill out a quick form with their name and email so you can send them the resource.
As a tactic, that’s a great approach to reaching your target audience and introducing more of the value you and bring… and introducing them to your funnel. So if your marketing strategy is to reach more of your target audience and create pipeline, that tactic works well.
We’ll spend more time discussing the difference between strategy and tactics in future newsletters and articles, but I liked how Casey Stanton put it when he said, “Strategy is why you’re doing what you’re doing. Tactics are how you’re doing what you’re doing.”
In this case, my strategy wasn’t to build sales pipeline or subscribers, but rather to have a greater impact on social media with a specific target audience: colleagues in the marketing industry.
Marketing Strategy: What’d I do?
Part of my role at Agorapulse is to evaluate in-person events we might potentially attend, sponsor, or speak at. We’re particularly focused on industry-specific events and audiences this year, but I still have an eye on some of the more traditional marketing events such as MarketingProf’s B2BForum or HubSpot’s Inbound. These are opportunities for me to meet new speakers and partners, re-connect with old ones, and get on more stages.
So I’d started a brief list in a Google Sheet for Agorapulse but one evening it occurred to me that I was only looking at the events I knew, and surely there were many, many more. So I stayed up late researching, looking at other people’s lists, and building out a new Sheet that had virtually every marketing-focused event or conference I could find, arranged by date throughout the year. For each event I noted the website, location, and if available, where or how to apply as a speaker.
The result was a Sheet with over 100 events around the world taking place in every month throughout 2024. After showing it to a couple besties and watching their eyes bulge out in wonder, I knew this was something many of my other friends and colleagues would appreciate.
(By the way, some of the best resources you can create and share with your target audience are the resources you first created for yourself to help you accomplish a task. Have you created anything like that I wonder?)
I decided to post to my LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles about the resource and invited friends and colleagues to view & copy the Sheet to their own drives. But I didn’t just link to it in the post, I asked them to comment saying that they’d like it, and then I sent them a private message with the link and a short greeting.
Marketing Strategy: Why’d I do it that way?
First and foremost, this is a great way to help my friends as every year, marketers like me need to re-evalulate which events they want to attend, which conferences they need to invest in, and which stages they really want to speak on. And every year, the event landscape shifts a little. Some events don’t come back after the previous year. Every event is on a different date than last year. Some are in different cities, while others might have new websites. Going off a list from last year will likely be just 75% accurate, if that. To be handed a list of 100+ events with complete accuracy on dates and locations and websites is gold. And to have direct links or even email addresses to apply to speak – that’s almost priceless.
It took me hours to put together, and I had the benefit of past year’s lists to build off of and contributions from other marketers and contacts. Someone starting from scratch simply wouldn’t have compiled a list as thorough.
So my friends and colleagues appreciated this resource immensely. And I’m happy to help them!
Which reveals the second reason for doing it: The Reciprocity Lever.
The Lever of Reciprocity is one of Robert Cialdini’s principles that he outlines in his book, Influence. Also known as Cialdini’s 7 Principles of Influence, the principles are reciprocity, commitment or consistency, consensus or social proof, authority, liking, scarcity, and unity. (We will talk a lot more about all of these principles over time, so stick around if you love geeking out over social psychology and how that intersects with marketing.)
The idea behind Reciprocity is that when you receive a gift, you typically feel obligated to that individual and will want to repay them – often in ways worth far more than the value of the initial gift. Cialdini goes into great detail in his book how it works and offers multiple studies that confirm the bias.
That marketing tactic I mentioned a moment ago, about giving away an eBook in exchange for an email address – that works well partly due to the principle of Reciprocity. Because I gave you this “free gift” it might make you feel obligated to at least listen to my sales offer, if not actually purchase.
In fact, that sense of obligation is so strong, it worked its way into our language so that often, instead of saying Thank You to someone for receiving a gift, we say, “Much Obliged.”
While it’s not my intention to make my friends feel indebted to me, doing them a favor now is a great way to stay top of mind and be in a position to receive a favor from them in the future (like when I asked for referrals to businesses potentially in need of a fractional CMO).
Now, all of that sounds great, but couldn’t I have just emailed or instant messaged them the link from the start? Why use the tactic of posting to social media and asking for comments?
Perhaps you’ve seen some other marketers employ this same tactic and wondered why.
Which leads us to the third and final reason: it’s great for algorithms.
I’m sure you’re aware that the more engagement your social media posts receive, the more visibility they’ll earn. Not only will each person engaging with your posts create some visibility among their own audience, but the platforms themselves will serve that post to more and more of your own audience – and even network users who aren’t in your audience. Additionally, posts with high engagement will help the next post that you share get more engagement.
I’m not a huge fan of posts that are “engagement bait” and just ask random questions that have nothing to do with brand, solely to create an engaging post. But this tactic of asking viewers to drop a comment if they’re interested in receiving the resource is great.
If you don’t expect to get a ton of comments, they’re easy to handle by hand. Agorapulse will put them all into a convenient Inbox for you and you can even create a Saved Reply to respond to all of them rapidly. Or if you’re focused on Facebook or Instagram, you can use a chatbot like ManyChat to automatically trigger on a specific comment and send a message.
As a result of posting the resource this way, my posts got far more comments than they would typically get, which led to more comments, which led to more comments… you see where this is going. 😉 Here’s my post to Facebook for example:
The Strategic Results
The engagement was fantastic and the relationship nurturing has been phenomenal! Friends I haven’t chatted with in ages messaged me and often the conversations continued beyond my initial response and link to the Sheet.
On top of that, many of the event organizers for conferences on the list expressed appreciation for being included, and one of those conversations resulted in me being invited to speak at over 40 events around the world! I can’t possibly speak and travel that much in 2024, but I’ll be entertaining my pick of the locations.
I want to encourage you to always take the time to build out a strategy for whatever you’re doing and make sure you understand the Why before you dive into the tactics. The tactics are fun, but tactics without a solid strategy in place first will not get you and your business where you want to be. You’ll risk wasting time and wasting resources and few of us can afford that this year. So think strategically, and if that’s something you want help with, I’m here.
Oh, and if you’re interested in seeing that 2024 Marketing Events spreadsheet yourself, hit me up on social media and let me know. 😉