Marketing

B2B Marketing Awards 2016

Pleased to have been a judge for this year’s B2B Marketing Awards. Once again I’m astounded by the quality of all the entries. The creativity and the results continue to demonstrate, to me at least, the B2B marketing is in rude health.

Best of luck to all the companies and individuals nominated.

 

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Craft Beer, Design, Marketing, Things I love

Storytelling in 3 videos

I’ve been thinking about storytelling lately. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about how the company I work for might be able to better tell stories.

So I started researching into how other industries and brands tell their stories. The following three videos are all ones I’ve found this week. Each with very different narratives but each one contains the key elements of a great story: a setting, a plot, a conflict and a resolution.

The Contenders

I’ve talked about Dicks Sporting Goods before.

Drink Better Beer – Matt Lane

This is a fantastic story about how BeerBods came to be. Very funny, very honest.

A film about Vitra

I recently treated myself to an Eames DSW chair for my home office. I love the mixture of history, ethos and tone in this video. I now feel part fo the club. Not part of the furniture, that wouldn’t be very Vitra I don’t think.

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Marketing

Want to really know your customers? Just listen.

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. 

Two weeks later I received a letter from Caroline Lucas MP addressing each of the issues I’d raised. I was, and am impressed. Someone actually listened. A couple of friends quipped how its probably a template, and it could be. It might be that a lot of people and potential voters in my area raised the same issues. But that doesn’t concern me. It was written to me addressing issues I’d raised. And from what I can tell it’s a genuine, hand-written signature. Template or not, effort went into compiling the letter, signing it off and posting it. And that’s what matters. That’s what makes a difference. 
 
The best bit was that this party member wasn’t there to sell me The Green Party, he was there to listen. Only by listening can he understand the issues. Only by listening can he begin to learn what makes his voting audience click. I don’t expect him to have the answers there and then. And to be honest I wasnt even expecting a response. But I do expect him to listen. 
 
As marketers, what can we learn from this?
 
1. Listen more, sell less. 
By listening you are in part selling. You’re selling a human quality that too often gets overlooked. As Stephen Covey pointed out “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” So as marketers, we can learn a lot by simply shutting up and hearing what our customer has to say. And I do mean that in the literal sense. 
 
2. Make listening part of your marketing programme
As modern marketers we are spoilt for choice.  Hashtags and keywords can tell us lot about what’s being said online and the sentiment thereof towards a brand or service. Survey tools like Survey Monkey mean that we can execute surveys in minutes and get responses in hours.
However, I don’t think there is a genuine substitute to replace face to face time with customers. There are many ways to do this from the relatively easy phone call and meet up at a mutually beneficial conference to the more-challenging customer days and advisory boards. In my experience the activities that have included a face to face discussion have been the most rewarding.  You can even add it into your annual KPI’s to meet a customer every three months by joining a sales meeting or simply picking up the phone for a check in.
 
3. Take Action
You’ve listened. Now you need to digest and action, where applicable. For example, to support a Customer Advisory Board programme, you can create an internal support team comprising of key functional heads who are responsible for the investigation, resolution and delivery of the various outputs that would be generated from the CAB. You can then communicate progress on a quarterly basis with the members of the CAB via a conference call and a follow up newsletter.  
 
A clue in understanding the power of listening is that you have two ears and one mouth. Heed that ratio. As B2B marketers we’ve never had it better but we still have many things to learn and improve on. If a political party can get it right, then so can we.
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iloveb2b
Marketing, Things I love

Why I Love B2B Marketing.

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.

That said, I have no regrets. My career in B2B has had its ups and downs. But it has also given me a wealth of opportunities and experiences and for that I will always be grateful. And that, in part, is why I love B2B marketing. B2B marketing has had a rough time. Throughout my career its always been the slightly misunderstood sibling of B2C. And yet, I continue to work with great people in the space. Great marketers, agencies and partners who are as passionate about the 18-24 month sales cycles as I am. We can see the opportunities in building a relationship and nurturing leads, especially in the days before automation.

And it is the relationship. It’s creating an emotional connection with people. People who have everyday challenges. Who have targets and KPIs. People who make considered purchases, behave rationally. They explore, research, display enormous levels of patience. Seek proof. People who want to know what success looks like in their terms. But also where it will take their department, division, region. Will ask “so, what?” so often, you are always on your toes, thinking, adjusting, amending, learning.

And when that contract is signed. When the direct mail, email, event sponsorship, Customer Advisory Boards, hospitality, meet-ups, case studies and videos have all chipped away at the DMU. When you have reinforced why you have the reliable and innovative service they need. And when you have convinced the higher-ups, the C-suite, that you are the strategic partner, a trusted advisor, that is why I love B2B marketing.

At the end of the day, we are talking to people, other human beings, not businesses in glass buildings. B2B marketing has come a long was since I started out 16 years ago. We can do as much and perhaps a little bit more than our B2C counterparts. Look at what caterpiller, Volvo, Marketo, Thunderhead, Xuber, CBRE to name but a few have achieved and are doing in this discipline. That’s why I love B2B marketing.

#iloveb2b
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Marketing, Things I love

My favourite TED talks

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 ley’s face 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 purpose. We want to learn more, know more, investigate more, sate our curious minds. Ideas Worth Spreading.

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 shared with friends, family and colleagues.

Simon Sinek – Start With Why
He recently talked about being bored of delivering this talk, which is both a shame and unsurprising. Thankfully it’s been recorded for posterity.

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

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Marketing

B2B Barometer 2014 – key takeaways.

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

Key takeaways:

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?

Photo Credit: BROGGERS via Compfight cc

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Marketing, Things I love

Getting Things Done: 3 books I recommend

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.

1. Getting Things Done by David Allen

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.



2. The Productivity Ninja by Graham Alcott

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.

3. Re:work by Jason Fried

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?

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