When he was working for a big B2B company, Andrew Walker did a brave thing. He audited every piece of communication that his company put out, with a cold, clear eye. And the result was, in Andrew’s words, “overwhelmingly bad. Every page on our website, every article we’d written, every e-newsletter, every piece of collateral we’d produced focused on:
- How good we were
- What we had done, why we were number one
- Our products and features
We had absolutely nothing written on how we understood the pain points of our customers and prospects or how we could solve their issues”
If more B2B marketers did a similar exercise, they’d see the same thing.
Because if business is a cocktail party, the typical B2B marketer is the bore who traps you in the corner, blathering about his achievements and delighting you with his opinions.
It’s weird, because the vast majority of B2B marketers are actually, intelligent, polite people who would never behave like the party bore (or boor). But when they step on to their soap boxes, something changes. They assume that what they’re supposed to do is shill like a carnival barker — when most people would rather engage in a chat.
Maybe it’s because two-way engagements are harder than narcissistic warbling. You have to actually listen. You have to admit (at least to yourself) that there are people for whom your ‘solution’ is not a solution at all. And, most importantly, you’re forced to realise that your company and products and services and competitors actually play a very small part of your prospect’s work life — and an even smaller part of their whole life.
Most B2B marketing makes the fatal assumption that prospects think of little other than their data cleansing problems or their web security holes or their lift truck fleet efficiency. If someone with this assumption in their head approaches you, you’re going to do whatever you need to do to get away. Fast.
One good thing about the new inter-social-digi-marketing is that marketers are stepping off their soapboxes or coming out from behind their Oz-sized curtains and exposing themselves as people. People with names and hobbies and kids and pets. Not just zombies with straplines.
At the end of the day, there are thousands of ways to make lousy marketing. But there’s only one way to make good marketing: start with a realistic view of your target audience’s lives and attitudes and issues. Then show them you’re starting there.
I’m off to the bar, can I get you anything?
Illustration credit – Creative Commons – By jimmyknows7
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