Especially these days, it’s important for marketers to get up to speed on new technologies and leave behind the habits of the past. But when it comes to holiday movies, some are timeless classics. For me, Home Alone is one of them. My kids love it as much as I did when I was younger, and I can enjoy it in a new light as an adult. In fact, as I watched the epic Macaulay Culkin vehicle, I started to see some similarities to B2B marketing. Maybe I’ve been working too hard, but I can’t help but think that John Hughes might have had these lessons in mind when he wrote Home Alone:
For those who haven’t had the joy of seeing Home Alone (do yourself the favor), it’s about an 8-year-old boy who is accidentally left, well, home alone, during the holidays when his family sleeps in and has to frantically speed off to the airport for a trip to France. Kevin McAllister (Culkin) wakes up after everyone’s gone, believing that his wish to make his family disappear has come true. Many 8-year-olds in the same situation might freak out, but Kevin is a level-headed, independent young man, and sees this as an opportunity to do things his way.
As B2B marketers, sometimes we can get overwhelmed with all the responsibilities and challenges we’re faced with. The key is to approach them as opportunities to make a difference. Kevin was a very organized guy, and this helped him tremendously in the various challenges he had to overcome. If we look at our big goals—like staying alive without parents—and break them down into manageable tactics—take a shower, get money, order pizza, buy groceries, defend the house—we’ll find that we’ve accomplished our goals, and learned something along the way.
One of the biggest challenges Kevin faces during his time alone is defending his house against two burglars working the neighborhood while well-to-do families are on vacation. We get the idea that Kevin is a naturally suspicious kid early on when Harry (Joe Pesci) is casing the McAllister house dressed as a policeman and flashes a gold-toothed smile. Kevin encounters the burglars later, on the street, recognizes the man with the gold tooth, and goes into full alert mode.
Most marketers know it’s key to identify your targets so you can effectively reach them and build a relationship. Targets are defined by attributes, and in B2B, rather than individual demographics or behaviors (like gold teeth), the most useful attributes are the company or account-level ones. It’s paramount that we prioritize the tactics that most effectively attract, engage and convert the specific account-based targets we’re after.
After figuring out that burglars were plotting to loot his house, Kevin put together some initial deterrents. He used mannequins and music to make it appear as if there were people in the house. Then he used firecrackers and gangster movie audio to scare off a backdoor attack. Ultimately, though the burglars got hip to his tricks and realized he was all by himself.
Sometimes marketing gets a bad rap for being all about fluff and making things look/seem pretty or appealing. Think of the time and money spent designing websites, ads, collateral, and more to attract attention. Design is a crucial component of communication, but it’s not a panacea. We can only get so far on just good looks. It’s important that we make sure we’re delivering useful, relevant and timely content to our audiences to help move them along their buying journey. Personalization technologies can help, with the ability to deliver the right message to the right website visitor.
Eventually Kevin realizes, “This is my house. I have to defend it!” So he sets about making a “Battle Plan” to set traps and obstacles that will keep the burglars from getting in and reeking havoc. He makes sure he’s covered every entrance and set up multiple levels of obstacles as they advance further into the house. He perfectly anticipates which path they’ll take.
Because B2B buyers do their research online, it’s important to think about mapping our websites and content to a typical, or ideal, version of the buyer’s journey. By making content readily available and more clearly guiding target account visitors through stages of the buying process, you’re more likely to get deeper engagement and conversions.
Kevin is a resourceful kid, and uses common household items to make effective booby traps. He makes stairs slippery by watering the icy concrete, heats doorknobs with a bbq starter, and uses an iron, tar, nail, ornaments, glue, feather/fan, toy cars, flying paint cans, and more, to leave the burglars begging for mercy.
We don’t always have to create new content or rebuild campaigns from scratch. Learn from what’s working already. Leverage the best performing content for bigger campaigns. As marketers we tend to want everything shiny and new.
But sometimes, there are resources right in our basement that can make for the most effective assets.
Ultimately Kevin has a plan to wear down the burglars, alert the authorities, and deliver them up. He executes his plan perfectly, but runs into some snags along the way. In the interest of avoiding spoilers, let’s just say that he gets some timely assistance.
In marketing, it’s important to have a process and plan in place to capture buyer interest and hand it off to your sales team. Technologies can help improve lead capture and make it a seamless process. But it’s even better to be aligned with your sales team and make sure you’re communicating and striving for the same goal. Then, when buyers exhibit unusual behavior, your sales counterparts can come along and close the deal.
What B2B marketing lessons have you learned from Home Alone, or other holiday classics? Tweet us at @Demandbase #B2Bclassics and, “keep the change, you filthy animal.”
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