We were very pleased to welcome Doug Kessler and Rutger Frissen to the stage of Digital Wednesday on January 30th. They talked about the unexpected obstacles that can kill your B2B marketing and brought us the five things to think about. Or as we would like to call them: five things every B2B company should absolutely live by.
Writing content should be an enjoyable thing to do. And when something is enjoyable to write, it’s probably enjoyable to read. But most of the content that we see when scrolling along our screens looks like it’s written in high-school detention. Like something that was on the bottom of someone’s to do list but still, it had to be done because hey – we all got to do something with content right?
Great content is, as Rutger and Doug put it, confident content. It signals that an organization knows what it’s talking about and that they know how to tell a good story. In other word, it signals expertise and experience. We should all leave the old B2B voice behind, which sounded stiff, serious and formal, and go for the new B2B voice sounding straightforward, simple and human. At least, if it’s your goal to attract the attention of your audience (just checking).
When you are a confident company, insane honesty should be a piece of cake for you. Actively seek out your weaknesses and share them openly. Put your worst foot forward. Afraid all you customers go running once you put all the dirty details out on display? Well, don’t be. Insane honesty surprises and charms, signals confidence and builds trust. Also, it shuts the door for less likely buyers, who otherwise might be disappointed by a product that does not suit their needs.
Experimentation is an important part of your B2B marketing. Designing ‘fail-fast’ experiments helps you to do some front-loading learning by taking small, low-cost steps. Milk your failures not only for learning, but also for showing vulnerability (thus being insanely honest). Admit you don’t know everything, and be prepared to make some pivots, letting go of plan A and killing some of your precious darlings. It’s the only way to get better at getting better.
Take swearing for example. We don’t expect it, because funnily enough we swear everywhere except in marketing. And we all know that when something is unexpected, it draws attention. But beware: not everybody likes swearing. So, look for a convention to break without pissing your target group off. Just make sure it’s funny, unconventional, honest, authentic, resonant, refreshing, surprising and, here we go again, confident.
Obviously, you can’t just go and add swear words to your content or randomly do something totally unexpected. People will get upset. And by people, we mean your stakeholders. Whether it’s the CEO, the Sales Team, your client or some guy who just walked past your cubicle and took the liberty of criticizing your work – there’s always people who need to be kept happy.
Turn your stakeholders into supporters. Clarify your vision before you sell in your work to manage expectations, become your customer’s advocate and be on top of your data so you can rub it in when you turned out to be right. And on top of all that, be prepared to quit. Because if you are honest with yourself (like, insanely honest), would you like to work for a company who doesn’t support your vision and beliefs? Well, there you are.