Strategic Outreach

Managing Change Via Communications

“Will It Blend” is the Ultimate Demo

More ideas to borrow for BtoB marketing:

No one can deny the success of Blendtec’sWill it Blend?” viral-video marketing strategy.  It’s both a BtoC (home blenders) and BtoB (commercial blenders) equation. It’s proof of the power of the demo, especially when you take it to an extreme…and have some fun with it.  The no-to-low cost nature of this campaign is the biggest news.

CEO Tom Dickson hosts the hugely viral video series

There’s dozens of these goofy demonstrations on YouTube; their smiley CEO Tom Dickson blends iPhones, Transformer toys, even Bic lighters (their “don’t try this at home” disclaimer is serious).  I don’t play golf, so this one (below) certainly doesn’t disturb me one bit.

How do you apply the demo video to less-visually-dramatic BtoB products and services?   Take a close look at what time-lapse could do for you – whether it be actual video footage or graphics.

August 21, 2010 Posted by | B-to-B Case Studies, B-to-B Marketing Vocabulary, B-to-B Social Media Technology, B-toB Advertising, Brand and Reputation, BtoB Marcomm Creative, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exposing Business Cliche Over-Exposure

I had the pleasure of contributing some informal research to David Meerman Scott’s book The New Rules of PR and Marketing back in 2007. Since then, it has become a business-book bestseller, and now a revised and updated 2nd edition is being sold on-line and by major book retailers such as Borders. Some colleges are using it as a textbook – it is a comprehensive overview of the tactics available to reach buyers directly with useful information as opposed to hype.

David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott's business bestseller

My research, summarized in Chapter 12 (see pages 156-157), has to do with over-used words and phrases that have lost any meaning; clichés that are spewed daily in news releases and other content in the BtoB world. I surveyed publication editors to gage their complaints.

I have talked plenty about the ubiquitous word “solutions”  (see “Guess What, We Make Products”).   There’s plenty of new lists and sources, including Seth Godin’s amusing Encylopedia of Business Cliches on Squidoo, where you can vote for your favorites. “Synergy” and “paradigm shift” are both in the top 10.

The indictment of business cliches has moved from deeming the practice of using them as mere laziness of the writer, to slamming it as intentional subterfuge.  I think it’s a mixture.  Another factor is ignorance of the news-release writer due to lack of experience within the industry discussed.

My suggestion for freshening up your business vocabulary:  read Business Week, Wired, Discover, Scientific American or other technology-trends publications.  Borrow an appropriate term, give it a new context, and make it your own.

June 13, 2010 Posted by | B-to-B Marketing Vocabulary, B-to-B Social Media Technology, B-toB Advertising, Brand and Reputation, Business cliches, Tech Sector Thought Leadership | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Value of Business Storytelling

The value of storytelling goes back a long ways.  Thousands of years.  An unfolding story holds more interest than a mere stating of facts derived from it.  In B-to-B marketing we are fond of saying that it allows a prospect to visualize himself or herself as a user of a given technology, imaging how the benefits would apply to their operations.

The irony of the current state is that, while users are more willing than ever to allow their stories to be told in order to foster cooperative ties with their technology suppliers, there are fewer trade publication/website pages available for reporting the stories. The Problem/Solution format has traditionally been in great demand by editors, but they have less band-width to publish them.

How-to books have a finite shelf life.  But great business stories are useful, and popular, for much longer. Consider Lee Iacocca’s Autobiography. It out-sold every other non-fiction hardcover for two years straight in the 1980s. Why are we fascinated with all the blow-by-blow details of a business success when we already know what the person or company ultimately accomplished and the impact of its success?  Perhaps because some useful “do’s and don’ts” and “forks in the road” will be revealed, but it’s also because we like a good story.

So what’s with the humongous, bodacious burger?  Is is lunchtime? (Well, yes, but…) To kick off my little series on business storytelling, I asked a big bunch of colleagues last week to vote for one of three famous business stories.  Lee Iacocca is one of them, and the polling is almost complete; it looks like a burger business story wins over the car story; I’ll deliver up the results in the next blog post, tomorrow.

March 15, 2010 Posted by | B-to-B Case Studies, B-to-B Marketing Vocabulary, Brand and Reputation, Business Storytelling, Content-Inspired Conversations, Tech Sector Thought Leadership, Website content | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guess What, We Make Products.

The overuse of the word “solutions” in BtoB marketing and publicity, and the reliance upon it in headlines and text, has had its fair share of attention. I did some surveying on this several years ago and blogged about it. But here’s a new way to look at it. You never see a company begin their opening descriptor (on their home page, or in an ad) with:  “We make products.”

Rather, the company simply tells you what they make.  In a similar way, why begin with a focus on the word “solutions?”  Just say what you do, and your prospects will know it’s a solution if they have a problem that you have shown you can solve.

We Make Solutions

"Hey Everybody - We Make Solutions!!"

As I’ve often said,  hanging your hat on the word “solutions” (in a tag line, ad headline, etc) is about as ingenious as a food product manufacturer deciding that they will win over hearts and heads by proclaiming their product “tastes good.”  It’s expected…it’s a given.

And if it’s reaction and on-line conversation you’re looking for, proclaiming only what the marketplace expects won’t get it rolling.

November 9, 2009 Posted by | B-to-B Marketing Vocabulary, Content-Inspired Conversations, Tech Sector Thought Leadership | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Wants to Have a Conversation with a Braggart?

Imagine calling up someone in your community about a school event you’re promoting, and beginning the conversation with “Hi, this is Dave Schmidt over on Bedford Drive, and I’m the best Dad in the neighborhood.”  How predisposed would that person be to being persuaded by you to do anything?   They would probably want to end the conversation as soon as possible.

So why is it that such a high percentage of companies begin every news release with their name, and then “the world’s leading…,” or something to that effect?   If the reader doesn’t know much about the company, this proclamation is certain to lack credibility,  and it’s worthless.

First Impressions From the Home Page

It may be even worse to do this on a B-to-B website home page. An inward-focused bombastic barrage in the opening text is the first information that a visitor will see when he or she is trying to figure out what the company does, and what it can do for them.  Honestly, here is the home page text for a small IT company, verbatim (except I mercifully changed the name of the company):

“ABC IT is inspired by quality and driven by the desire to excel each and every time.  ABC IT is powered by the expertise of the industry leaders who possess exceptional talent and a well –seasoned acumen developed through executing numerous business and software applications.

ABC IT personnel are talented, highly skilled and have a strong desire to make a mark in the field by the dint of their diligence and hard earned excellence. ABC IT solutions are coherent, reliable and are based on clarity of thought and divergent thinking.”

Brilliant. So, here I am again, this time at a networking event, meeting the president of an influential company that I’d like to do business with.

“Hi, my name is Dave.  I’m handsome, and very talented at what I do.  I’m all about excellence in everything I do.”

The president asks:  “Well, what is it that you do for a living?”

My reply: “Before I tell you that, I need you to understand that I am driven by quality, and unless you are impressed by that and live by high quality standards, there’s no reason for me to go any further.”

Yep.  He’ll probably leave the event early so he can go back to the office and get you right on the vendor list. Try it yourself.

BtoB Bragging

October 19, 2009 Posted by | B-to-B Marketing Vocabulary, Content-Inspired Conversations, Tech Sector Thought Leadership | , , , , , , | Leave a comment