This is a test. Not of the emergency broadcasting system, but rather of a very different way of developing and sharing content. The pundits say keep your copy short. We’ve decided to create a 12,771-word special report. The pundits suggest placing your major thought leadership pieces behind a firewall. We’re putting this out there for the whole world to see. The pundits advise not sharing your secret sauce. This report reflects a large part of what we know and how we approach B2B brand strategy development.
In the paragraphs below you’ll get a 500-word (ish) appetizer version of our special report—hopefully it’ll have you hungry for the whole darn thing (click here if you’d like to skip the sliders and head right for the T-bone—though, both are delish). These are basically some excerpts that boil down 4 steps to more effective B2B marketing; the full report itself contains 12 (and plenty more insightful substance in each).
Plus, in case you were wondering, this special report also provides a sneak peek of my next book which will be about three times longer.
Clear Away the Clutter
There always seems to be an instinct to solve marketing—and generally, business—problems by adding more stuff. In our survey, we heard about massive tech stacks, crowded buying committees, and plenty of other well-intentioned efforts that ultimately serve to reduce efficiency. We believe marketing’s in dire need of a Marie Kondo treatment. This year, look at each piece of your guiding strategy, and ask yourself: Is this something I mustdo? Or something I simply can do? Start to focus on the ‘musts,’ and start to really interrogate each new piece of your marketing machine before committing to it. I promise you’ll be better off for it.
Dare to be Distinct
You’ve tidied up—next, how to make a material impact on your brand strategy. We say brand, because this needs to be top-down guidance, not just individual marketing efforts. Your undisputed #1 priority as a CMO is to help your company stand out from the crowd. We’d recommend starting with a generic, company purpose template: [Company] is an X that creates Y to help do Z for [audience]. [Company] is the only choice for that, because [reason].Writing this out will serve as a warmup and stretch before the real McCoy, crafting your 8 words (or less) that speak to prospects, customers, and employees in a distinctive way, while also highlighting the overarching purpose of your company.
Pounce on Your Purpose
When Ben Stuart took over at Bank of the West, he got to work highlighting their purpose. He recognized societal change and really, really embraced it (Larry Fink/BlackRock take note!). They made themselves distinct first with their few words—“The Bank for a Changing World”—and then by altering their investment portfolio to ditch tobacco, coal, fracking, and other things they no longer wanted to support, and shifted towards environmental initiatives. Man, did this approach scare some people. Divestment from giant, profitable industries is a scary thing for a bank. But Ben Stuart committed to a purpose, and it’s help BotW carve out a serious niche for itself. Employees were engaged, customers were more loyal, and plenty of prospects took notice. So, this year, find your purpose and pounce.
Friendship is great, right? You don’t often hear someone complaining about having too many good friends, or about how awful it is to have friends. Ridiculous. In that spirit, CMOs need to start making some new friends. HR leaders, CFOs, Salespeople. Each of them can help your marketing flourish in the proper way. HR will provide invaluable counsel when your engaging employees internally (which should be your first step in most initiatives), CFOs will be a great collaborator when pinning down how you can measure what matters, and getting close with sales will improve collaboration and break down silos that so often encapsulate the two departments—which, by the way, has been a consistent (and silly) thorn in marketing’s side. The poor collaboration with Sales, that is. John Costello, former CEO and CMO of Dunkin, once quoted Harry Truman to a bunch of CMOs while speaking at an event. He said, “Anything is possible if you don’t care who gets credit.” Internally, you’ve got an unbelievable wealth of intelligence. Time to put it to use.