A few years ago I worked at a company called Serverside Group. We made the software so that you could customise your payment cards - in practice this was pictures of cats, dogs and babies.
Like many in the B2B world, we had just a few hundred key people globally that we wanted to influence - basically the CEO or Head of Debit in a couple of dozen mega-banks.
We wanted to achieve two things:
1. get them interested in buying our product - it had amazing effects on card usage (which is a very good thing for those of you without a numbingly in-depth knowledge of the retail payments industry).
2. position ourselves as the Experts so that we could advise and shape the implementation of the product.
This second step was crucial. We had learnt that if the product was implemented via Internet Banking then it would massively outperform any other implementation type, such as being part of the sign up process for a card. The difference was huge - triumph not disaster.
So we needed to show professional card marketers that, in this regard at least, we were the experts. But sometimes we simply didn't get sufficient time with the key people - and making even a small change to Internet Banking is a really big deal.
Our solution - or at least one of our solutions - was BIG CARD. We would find a picture of our key contact on the internet and print it on a massive replica of their companies debit card (with all the Visa or MasterCard branding). We printed our key messages on the back.
The great thing about this as an influence technique was the ridiculous awkwardness of delivery. This huge item had to be courier delivered to the CEO. It barely fitted in the lift. They caused pandemonium.
I had to transport the one shown below - which I was given when I left Serverside - from London to Oxford via Tube & Train. I have never had so many random chats with strangers in my life.
So eventually the CEO would receive this card.
One of them wrote to us immediately on receipt that "It would be churlish" not to take the meeting.
We were very proud of our Big Card but it isn't an option for many firms. In the professional services there is rarely an equivalent Big Card. But you can show a bit of humanity and a bit of wit.
The mantra is "People buy from People" - but actually "People buy from People they like!"