Lead Nurturing

Parenting: More Like B2B Lead Nurturing Than You Might Think

I have two distinctly separate but somewhat related lives. That may seem like an odd statement to start off a blog post about B2B lead nurturing with, but it’s one that I’m betting many working parents would recognize as true.

In my case, I am a mom of three. Meanwhile, at work every day, I’m helping marketers nurture and educate their customers. At first glance, there isn’t a lot of overlap. But once you start thinking about it, you realize that parenting is a lot more like B2B lead nurturing than you might think.

I recently had some time to reflect deeply on this duality whilst waiting for my kids’ ballet rehearsal to let out.

What I’ve come to realize is that every strategy and tactic that I have employed as a parent has probably also been applied in some way, shape, or form to my work as a marketer. I don’t make my kids fill out a form before telling a bedtime story, nor do I send them weekly emails filled with life lessons and tips on how to complete their homework. As we do our very best to develop well-rounded children, however, we have a lot in common with the marketing side of ourselves that is working to create sales-ready leads.

Everyone develops at their own pace

Give a kid a toy that is meant for a younger child and they will quickly become bored with it. Give them one that is too advanced and you’ve got yourself a bucket load of tears and frustration. It’s important to give kids toys and activities that are right for their current stage of development.

Your prospects are no different. Try to be too sophisticated, too soon with the messages you’re sending and you’ll quickly lose them. If they’re ready to jump ahead and they can’t find the information they need, however, that precious moment of attention will also be lost. You have to let them move at their pace, adapting to their speed and preferences by watching them with that new toy (or piece of content) and gathering feedback (in the form of engagement data).

As kids and prospects develop and mature, the strategies you use to manage them also need to change. What parent hasn’t called a food by another name or hidden it among other favorites to get a kid to eat something they’ve decided not to like today. That works for a while, but eventually they wise up and call you out it (“But I SAW you chopping the onions, Mom!”). The jig is up and it’s time to find a new tactic.

Your prospects are maturing too, both in terms of their progression through the buyer’s journey and in their overall experience as consumers. Make sure you make the right information available to them at the rights stage of development. Tools that provide insight into the level of engagement with your content can help you determine if you’ve hit the mark or not.

Capitalize on moments of attention

People (large and small) absorb information most effectively only when they are open to learning. As parents, we know that there are golden times when it is possible to have a rational conversation with your child, impart some wisdom, maybe talk about the moral of that story you just read. And then there are times when you must concede to circumstances and let something go.

Picking your battles is a large part of parenting, and is also an important concept for effective marketing. You’re not going to be able to command your prospects’ full attention, well, ever (if you’re honest with yourself). So, capitalize on those moments of attention when you can. Kids are famous for being all in 100% invested and obsessed with one thing today, then another tomorrow. That tunnel vision and single-mindedness is at times as admirable as it is irritating. But in the thick of those episodes, they are like sponges! My oldest daughter could compete with leading experts in Greek mythology as the result of a brief encounter with the Percy Jackson book series.

I can provide a more adult example based on my own experience. I am the most interested that I will ever be in attending a webinar exactly at the moment that I register for it. Realistically, though, there’s only about a 30% chance that I’ll make the time or have the inclination to actually attend (regardless of how many reminders you send me). After I click submit on that form, however, I’ll read and research much more about the subject if the content is available. Make it easy for prospects to get more of your content during those fleeting moments of attention.

Sometimes, a sore tummy is really an earache

Little children especially tend not to be as self-aware as adults or older children. If something hurts or they are uncomfortable, they may not now how to communicate the real problem. ‘Tummy ache’ can be a universal descriptor for any type of ache or pain. I can remember when my middle daughter, who was four years old, complained so much and so frequently about a sore tummy that my husband finally took her to the hospital emergency room to get it checked out. Nine hours, three doctors, one ultra sound, and an X-ray later, they discovered that she had raging infections in both of her poor little ears! She didn’t know about ear infections, she just knew that she didn’t feel well.

Your prospects may be in the same boat. As marketers, we tend to assume that prospects will tell us where it hurts so we can gallantly offer to fix the problem. But do they always know? Can they put it into words? Maybe they haven’t made the connection yet and don’t know which category of your resource center addresses their pain. Your job is to bring them around to understanding the solutions you offer. Proactively serve up plenty of content that helps them down that path to self-awareness, providing the information needed to make the leap from reader to buyer.

As it turns out, there are many strategies that we use to grow our kids up into upstanding citizens that we can also apply to nurturing our prospects toward becoming actual customers. The lessons we learn in how to interpret our children can also be used to interpret the behavior and actions of prospects. Luckily, as marketers, we have tools to help us collect, analyze, and act on the behavioral data quickly and accurately.

For parents, it isn’t always so straightforward. Maybe I’ll use the next ballet rehearsal to research tools for that…