Be Unexpected: What B2B Marketers Can Learn from a Resale Shop

Be Unexpected: What B2B Marketers Can Learn from a Resale Shop
Michele Linn - Mon May 04, 2009 @ 10:25AM
Comments: 18

Unexpected Last week, a friend asked if I wanted to join her and her son at a new children's resale store. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I really dislike shopping, and I avoid it even more now that my very curious and mobile 17-month old daughter is no longer my happy and quiet companion. But, it was a rainy day, and we had no plans so I agreed.

We slogged the kids through the drizzle, and with a sense of dread I entered the store. "I wonder how much time I'll have until the screaming starts," I wondered to myself. The owners of the store welcomed us, and to my absolute delight, there was this play area, replete with cozy rugs and lots of toys where our kids could entertain themselves while we looked around (the store was very small, so you could constantly have your eye on them) - and the owners were completely engaged with our kids, sitting on the floor with them and showing them new toys.

The point of my story is this: I was thrilled with the unexpected - and am actually looking forward to the next time we visit the shop (and that is saying a lot for me).

While this is a consumer-based example, I think the application just as pertinent for B2B organizations, and maybe in even more so because we are not necessarily wired to think about being unexpected.

Lest we forget (and it's easy to do), everything we do is being "consumed" by a real person, not an organization, a department or a nebulous title. The more personal, targeted and relevant we can be, the greater the chance that they'll be delighted - and we'll be remembered.

With that in mind, here are few things B2B marketers can learn from this resale shop.

Understand your audience

This resale shop is brilliant because it really understands who their buyers are and caters to them. I harp on this every week, but it's critical: you need to understand your audience and make sure everything you do is targeted at them.

The store clearly understands my key pain: finding a way to keep my daughter occupied while shopping. And everything they do shows that they understand my needs.
Until you really understand your audience, you'll never be able to delight them consistently.

Ask yourself: What two or three things really bother your audience, and what could you do to address these pains?

Find out what people's (negative) expectations are . . . and do the opposite

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across Scott Ginsberg (aka The Nametag Guy), after listening to a Duct Tape Marketing podcast with him. This guy fascinates me. He basically has turned wearing a name tag every day for over 3000 days (and counting) into a business.

One of the things he suggested in this podcast was to figure out what people expect and then do the opposite. More specifically, figure out what negative stereotypes exist about people in your industry and flip that on its head by doing the positive. In the case of the resale store, I was expecting that I would be digging through clothes, looking for a bargain while my daughter whined. Instead, the clothes were very well organized and in good condition while my daughter was entertained.

Ask yourself: What negative perceptions do your prospects have about your industry and what can you do differently?

Try new things

I received the resale store's inaugural e-newsletter yesterday that lists upcoming events including story times for kids (so parents can shop) and a day where they are giving 10% of their profits to a local charity. I love these types of ideas because they're different.

B2B marketers have a similar opportunity. Try to think of new ways that you can get your message out. Maybe you can host a new kind of event or create a video. Or, as Wendy mentioned in a recent post, humor can be a very effective tool, especially in the B2B market because it is unexpected. Yes, you need to use humor very carefully, but when you can entertain as you're educating, it can be very memorable.

Ask yourself: What new things can you do that would resonate with you audience?

People love to be surprised and delighted, and it really is worth your effort.

What type of B2B examples have you seen that exemplify the unexpected? What kinds of things do you do to stand out?

Read more Savvy B2B posts from Michele.


Comments: 18


1. Sarah Mitchell  |  my website   |   Tue May 05, 2009 @ 04:15AM

As always, I'm impressed with the relevance of the information published on the savvyb2bmarketing blog. In this case, I appreciate the practical advice to help get me thinking "out of the box". We all try to find a way to differentiate ourselves but I'm not sure I start by asking the simple questions about why my customers want something different.

Your story is another reminder why it's important to focus on what the customer needs and not what I want to do. Thanks!

2. Jamie Lee  |  my website   |   Tue May 05, 2009 @ 05:46AM

Michele - what a great post and reminder to always keep the customer EXPERIENCE in mind. People make purchases based on more than logic and reason. Creating a positive, surprising, delightful experience can make all the difference in the world.

You've provided some great thought starters for a brainstorming session around how a brand presents itself and what it offers its audience.

It might sound crazy, but sometimes a little role playing or even a simple game of "what if?" can generate some great, new, fresh ideas. Start telling a story about a customer experience and see where the "what if?" question takes you. Have fun with it!

3. Michele Linn   |   Wed May 06, 2009 @ 02:02AM

Sarah: Thanks so much for the positive comments about the blog. We're having a great time.

Jamie: You always seem to have a way with words, and I think you sum it up perfectly when you say that we should look at the customer EXPERIENCE. And great idea about role playing. If you're not having fun, your customers certainly won't be.

4. JB  |  my website   |   Wed May 06, 2009 @ 07:47AM


Hey, great post. I found you through Kate's tweets. I really appreciate your even handed and informative posts. Can't wait for future ideas on how to build my business. Thanks!

5. Michele Linn   |   Wed May 06, 2009 @ 11:02AM


Thanks for the kind words. Kate is a master tweeter, so I'm glad you found us. If there are any specific areas where you want help with your business from a B2B marketing perspective, shoot us an email at, and we may answer it in a future post. Nice to make your acquaintance!

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