What’s Up With Our Cans?

As a profession, marketing has gotten very good at how to target and bombard an audience with messages; how to track those responses and quantify the actions into a metric that validates our role.  But somewhere in the speed and tracking we have collectively lost the art of communication, or more accurately conversation.

The tin-can telephone is a fun metaphor for several of the characteristics that we believe define good marketing:


Inbound, outbound, push, pull, etc. B2B marketing isn’t the 1-to-many approach prevalent in the consumer and retail categories.  Done best, it requires a thorough understanding of the target market, the influencers inside a target enterprise, and ultimately the buyer.  We look at it as 1-to-1 marketing multiplied to scale: creating several one-to-one conversations with the people most likely/empowered to advance your sales efforts.  

The tin-can telephone is a great reminder that 1-to-1 dialogue is our goal.

Know Thy Customer

Let’s face it, the tin-can telephone lacks the audio clarity we’ve all come to expect in modern-day communications devices (kudos to those of you who identify with The Atlantic’s Visual History of Dumb Phones).  To really understand the garbled voice in the can pressed to your ear, it helped if you already knew the person talking. Demonstrating an understanding of the “language” that your audience uses in their daily work sets you apart from vendors that lead with product-centric spam.


Technology makes it possible for marketing to reach audiences in new and exciting ways and can have a tremendous benefit to an organization’s marketing efforts.  However, with marketing automation and measurement tools increasingly dictating the type, frequency, and content of marketing campaigns, it’s equally important to make sure those efforts add value for the recipient.  A multi-touch campaign should be more than sending the same email for weeks on end until the recipient reacts.  Marketing should inspire its audience and create an impression that lasts well beyond the duration of the campaign.


Campaigns that inject humor and fun into the workday often have longer “staying power” with audiences than other communication styles.   This doesn’t mean your outreach should be a continuous laugh-a-thon.  Adding some humor here and there reminds people that you’re human and not just an email automatically generated based on profile data.  (Except for those of you who received an email from Group82 automatically generated from profile data…)


You can yell as loud and often as you like into one of the cans.  If there’s no one on the other end to pull the string tight and listen, your message goes nowhere.  The same is true for marketing that is measured only by output and not by interaction.  Speed, measurement and efficiency are great, but only if your audience engages.

Engage with us and let us know what you think!