At Savvy B2B Marketing, we thrive on different perspectives and new ideas, which is why we are thrilled to welcome today's guest blogger, Rebel Brown. We enjoy Rebel's blog, Phoenix Rising, where she shares strategies for transformation. More fantastic guests are planned for the weeks ahead, so stay tuned.
To be effective in today’s noisy world – your marketing must capture all of your value in a clear, succinct story. Most importantly, your story must focus on things that are important to your audience – customers and prospects.
Today's audience is empowered. They can find out every 'truth' they want to know about you. Give them a search engine and they are off and running on a fact finding frenzy. They roll their eyes when we start to claim leadership and use 'feeds n speeds' selling – sometimes politely wait for us to finish - and then take a dive deep into our real-world experience at the first opportunity.
Customers don't want positioning claims and 'me, me, me marketing' from you. They want to know why they should trust you, why they should partner with you. Customers and prospects want to see your expertise in action. They want to know that you understand their business, and that you've helped others who are like them.
Think about the way you use the web for your own personal buying decisions. Do you read the vendor website - or do you go to the reviews, the ePinions, Consumer Reports? Odds are you look for others like you that have reviewed your products. You don't go drink marketing Kool-Aid for your new refrigerator from the guys who built it, now do you?
Why should your B2B audience be any different?
Savvy B2B companies are passionate about promoting their customers and their successes. The key to great positioning stories is to remember – It’s Not About You. It’s about your audience – their needs, their challenges, their daily work lives. It’s about spinning your threads of evidence to tell a story that compels them to want to learn more – and ultimately, to respect you as an expert, and trust you as a partner.
How do you learn to think like your audience? To tell Stories and share evidence that is compelling to them?
Talk to them, get to know them, ask them questions. Start with your customers, then expand. What do you ask? That depends on who you’re addressing. Here’s a start to get you thinking:
- What do they do for a living? How do they make money and how does information technology help them do that? How do you help them do that?
- What's going on in their market? What are their current challenges? What help do they need to address them? How did your solutions empower their efforts?
- What are the things that make them frantic at the office (aside from meetings, meetings and more meetings). What are the top three things that would help them reduce their stress?
- Why did they buy your solution? NOT the technology selection criteria - the business reason. What were they hoping to accomplish and did they do it? If not, why not? And if so - how did your solution help. If not - why didn't it help them, and how can you fix it?
- What are the things they like best about your company and its solutions?
- What are the things they like the least? And you'd better be ready to follow up on this one. If they'll share this with you, they just gave you the keys to the kingdom of ongoing success, don't blow it.
One other point – don’t just chat with happy customers. They already believe in you. Talk to the Doubters and the prospects who are On the Fence. They’ll give you the guidance for what your story is missing, where you need to enhance or clarify. Also –and this is the tough one - listen to your Enemies, the ones slinging mud at you in the market. You also need to weave the evidence threads into your story that stop that slinging in its tracks.
Once you gather all the threads of evidence – line those threads up against your key Pivot Point messages. Then start spinning the stories that charm your audience – stories that share your customers’ successes, their journey to that success and the how-to’s that made it possible. Focus on your customers’ stories and let their light shine for you. You’ll gain credibility and respect, while the other guys just keep thumping their chests.
About the author: Rebel Brown is CEO and Chief Spin Doctor at PeopleWhoKnow, a Silicon Valley strategic consulting firm. She is also the author of numerous articles and the business blog Phoenix Rising, where she shares her tried and true strategies for transformation. Her new ebook --It’s Not About You Anymore, P.S. It Never Was -- is about an approach to positioning that works.