More evidence submitted to the case of ‘B2B vs Boring’. Enjoy!
It’s not often someone who isn’t family, a friend or a postman knocks on our door. On this occasion it was the local representative of the Green Party. In the run up to this years General Election he wanted to know how I felt about local issues, the council and so forth. Now, this doesn’t happen very often, I can count on three fingers the number of times a member of a political party has knocked on our door in the 7 years I’ve lived in Brighton. To be honest, he put me on the spot. I haven’t really given a great deal of thought to the political climate of late, let alone local government issues. Nevertheless, here was someone from a major political party on my doorstep interested in what I have got say. Some quick thinking provided him with some feedback on refuse, recycling, free schools and rail fares for commuters. I then wished him luck and he moved on to the next house.
I fell into B2B marketing. It was the Video Game Retailer or the B2B ISP. The video game retailer went bust 3 months later. Was I lucky? Perhaps. Did I achieve what I set out to do when I graduated? Yes and No. Yes, I got my first marketing job, proper. No, in so much as I didn’t set out to get in to B2B marketing. Marketing, yes. B2C, almost certainly. B2B marketing, unlikely.
I was reading an article the other day about how to stand out in business and in your workplace, a kind of manifesto on being remarkable. One of the many suggested ways was to not reference TED talks. The justification was that anyone can do it, it’s not clever and in many ways it’s myopic. I didn’t agree with much of the article but that comment stuck. Primarily because I wholeheartedly disagreed with it.
It got me thinking about TED. It’s a much discussed topic. It’s also one of the ultimate pieces of content marketing. And let’s face it, despite what that blog post said, it’s a great way of finding common ground with people you know and don’t know as it did with me when meeting new colleagues at the end of last year. There was an immediate common ground and in a way a common goal. We want to learn more, know more, investigate more, sate our curious minds. Ideas Worth Spreading as it says on the tin.
There are around 2000 of these talks. I’ve not watched all of them (obviously), however, those that I’ve listed below are the ones that immediately came to mind. And are the ones that I’ve often shared.
Ken Robinson – Are schools killing creativity?
I first watched this many years ago, and I suspect it was probably the first TED talk I watched and the first time I became aware of TED. Since then I’ve become a Governor at a local school, and I’ve revisited this talk several times. However, the message isn’t just about the education system, it also applies to parenting and to business: Are the systems we have in place the most appropriate for nurturing creativity in the modern world?
Jason Fried – Why work doesn’t happen at work.
I mentioned this talk in a previous post and with good reason. Jason talks a lot of sense.
Rodney Mullen – Pop an ollie and innovate
Rodney Mullen is one of my sporting heroes. Skateboarding was my first real passion. As an 8 year old in a leafy English commuter town, skate videos (yep, VHS) from the States where our escape and inspiration. Rodney talks about creating content through context. Essentially, there’s an obstacle, what can I do with this board to overcome or make the most of the situation. Test, fail, learn and adapt.
Photo Credit: Gisela Giardino via flickr
Having worked in B2B for the last 16 years, I’m proud that B2B marketing is growing in reputation. From the the work being done by CBRE (architecture) on instagram to the more widely recognised output from SaaS vendors such as Adobe and Marketo there has been a seismic shift in creativity and investment in B2B marketing. So it was with interest that I read the 2014 B2B barometer from the IDM. You can download your copy here
1. 31% of respondents have a budget of 1% or less than turnover. That’s a lot! I guess my first impression is clearly b2b marketing is not at the top table. I’d love to see an additional data set that correlates budget with industry, would it all be SaaS vendors and professional services in that top quartile?
2. It was unsurprising to see 34% of b2b marketers identifying content as a major trend. And it is, however, I think we shouldn’t lose sight that whilst content is very much the foundation on which us marketers generate leads, it’s also a means to end. I was also surprised to see lead nurturing much further down the list, especially given the role marketing content plays in the nurturing cycle.
3. 30% of respondents identified a lack of resources as a major challenge. Again I’d like to see this data overlaid with budget allocation.
What were your takeaways?
I can’t remember when I first become aware of the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology but suffice to say I’m a fan. Below are three books (with affiliate links) that are in my opinion the best sources for adopting and learning the GTD methodology.
Yes, it’s obvious and it’s the benchmark. As David Ogilvy said about Roman-Raphaelson’s book ‘Writing that works‘, “Read it three times”.
Here is David Allen’s TEDx talk on the subject of getting things done. Interesting to hear him say that the GTD concept is not so much about getting things done, rather its doing things with focus.
Graham Alcott takes the GTD methodology and brings its bang up to date. The principles of productivity are the same, however, Alcott specifically argues that productivity is not time management, rather its attention management that is the problem for the modern worker. The GTD methodology primarily works on the basis of context so that you can quickly decide how and what you work on i.e. at the office, at the computer, calls to make. Context is an underlying principle of productivity, and Alcott builds on this by asking you to look at your levels of attention and matching your actions with those of three levels of attention: proactive, active and inactive. Read ‘Work based on your attention levels’ to find out more on the topic.
If you’re inclined to the buy the book, I would recommend the hard copy. I have the kindle version and whilst it’s perfectly fine, The Productivity Ninja is essentially a reference book and the one thing I think the Kindle falls down on is being able to quickly look for sections and passages.
This is now a modern business classic. You can breeze through it in an hour or two and whilst not a productivity guide in the true sense, it still has some wonderful insights in how to run a business in a lean and scalable manner. To get a taste, here is Jason Fried talking about how work doesn’t get done at work:
What productivity books do you recommend?
I have no idea what Dick’s Sporting Goods is like as a retailer. How it’s positioned in the market. What it’s good at or otherwise. But what I can tell you is that it can tell a damn good story.
It loves sport. It loves sporting apparel. It understands what it’s like to be a pro-sportsman. They know every play, fake, feint, call, eye-signal. Whilst (and I could be wrong) pro-sportspeople are unlikely to shop at Dick’s Sporting Goods I assume they have the product range, knowledge and, perhaps the heritage, to pass their expertise on to the sports fan, runner or hiker.
This ad is directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond The Pines) and I think it’s one of the best, and most beautiful, ads I’ve seen in a long time.
I recently culled a load of newsletters. Usual criteria applied: unread, unopened, boring. Some of which I hadn’t even subscribed to. (One was from a company who I had recently applied for a role. Anyhoop, despite several attempts to follow up the application, I didn’t hear from them. Then I did hear from them. They had subscribed me to their newsletter. Which was nice.)
I digress. I typically don’t subscribe to pure b2b marketing newsletters, simply because I use twitter to find good articles, or rather, because I manage my following and lists pretty well the articles find me. So the list below is a mix of this and that. Nevertheless, I hope you find the same level of inspiration in them that I do.
1. Battenhall. A generalist yet solid and consistently good range of insights into social and comms. If you subscribe you can expect to get ad-hoc updates throughout the week and a monthly roundup. Such as this.
2. Longform. They have perfectly judged the length of it’s content and the time of delivery. So unsurprisingly it pops into my inbox on a Saturday afternoon (Morning if you’re in the US). This means I have time to read it. That said I typically save them to Instapaper which in turn pings them to my Kindle. It’s also my current favourite site.
3. In over your head. First thing I should say is that it isn’t a newsletter. In fact it’s the only blog to which I subscribe outside of my greader/feedly. Why? Because of this post, one of my favourite posts of all time. That aside, I’m a big fan of Julien’s no-nonsense approach to writing.
4. SEOMoz. Perhaps an obvious one. Nevertheless, they have nailed it. Their monthly Top 10 is absolute gold. They balance their own content with curated content really well. In a nutshell, the best 10 articles on Inbound marketing, design, UX, customer experience.
5. 37 Signals. Called ‘Incoming Transmission’ it covers topics such as business, web and design. Again they balance their own content and curated content really well so you’re as likely to read something by one of their designers on UX as your are about what happens to a face cloth in space.
6. Brain Pickings. I’ve only been subscribing a little while but blimey there is some fascinating stuff in there. Pure Inspiration. Such as this. I don’t always read it week to week but it’s one of those newsletters that if I unsubscribed I’d probably forget it existed and that wouldn’t be a good thing.
Which newsletters do you refuse to unsubscribe from?
Let’s say you woke up from a very heavy 12 month slumber. And, I dunno, the first thing you wanted to do was find out the direction modern B2B marketing is headed. Here are 3 presentations that I think give you a good grounding whilst you sip your first coffee.
So, I passed my exam for the HubSpot Inbound Marketing University.
Whilst I didn’t study all 18 of the webinars, I was impressed by the quality of those that I did listen to. In particular, I found Rand’s Advanced SEO, Avinash’s Advanced Analytics and Brian Carroll’s Lead Nurturing session the most useful as a refresher, and helping me keep my eye in
For more details on the course visit The HubSpot Inbound Marketing Qualification.