Visionary Marketing publishes interviews with experts, marketers, innovators, Web and business experts on the subjects of innovation and marketing
B2B marketers should strive to know their customers better
Marketers should strive to know their B2B customers better. As implausible as it may sound, since it’s the essence of their job, B2B marketers may not always have a clear idea of what their customers actually want. In this podcast, Andrew Deutsch from the Fangled group discusses the misalignment in what marketers ‘perceive as customer requirements‘ versus what their clients actually desire and like about the product and company. It will be a surprising and worthy revelation for many of our peers. But delving deeper into what he says may ring a bell for a few of us with significant marketing mileage. By the end of this discussion, marketers will appreciate the worth of listening to customers and building action plans based on qualitative research. Here’s an account of my interview with Andrew Deutsch.
B2B marketers should strive to know their customers better
Many B2B businesses do not know who their customers are
Businesses do have a notion, but don’t necessarily know their B2B customers in and out, which they should. One of the major problems is that companies promote things that they’re proud of and founded their business on, in ways that really do not matter to the customer. This is because these aren’t the underlying motivation or reasons for which people do business with them.
This is a business problem prevalent across the globe
There isn’t a region of the world where Andrew hasn’t come across it, with varying degrees. Some countries like Germany or the northern part of Italy have very strong engineering and manufacturing capabilities. Companies in these regions sometimes don’t recognise the need to grasp their clients’ requirements nor serve them better to make them feel valued and part of the business.
Companies that are world leaders in certain industrial segments aren’t immune either
Let’s imagine that you put your engineers in charge of sales and you manufacture cars. Now the consumer for a new car is looking for certain benefits, e.g. he wants to impress people of the opposite gender and be “the coolest dude out there” Andrew said.
He talks to the engineer and the latter says, well, this has X horsepower, we use Y type of steel, etc. The customer doesn’t care about any of that. “Am I going to impress the girls?” is what he would ask.
Hence, it may be a possibility that the buyer of a sports car starts with a very different mindset than the people who design and market it.
When you can bridge that disconnect to what is the actual value people desire out of their purchase, it gets much easier to meet them at their model of the world and show them that yours is the right solution
Technical features of the product are important, but it’s just one of many things for B2B customers
Let’s take an example to elucidate this, Andrew added. Let’ say we, as a B2B customer, are working to purchase a brand new high-tech laser cutting machine for our manufacturing company. We want that laser cutter to be able to cut up to a certain millimetre of steel at a predetermined grade, rate and speed.
Three vendors have the machine which meets our requirements, and the pricing is somewhat similar. But as a manufacturer, what am I looking for? It will do what I need it to do, but I also want to make sure that there is good customer service available.
What is the annual cost to power that machine? How quickly can I repair downtime? Is it something that has modular components? All of those things are what I’m really looking for. I want to make sure that this machine never shut...
Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The PUNK CX Customer Experience
A book on customer experience entitled Punk CX is bound to be entertaining, disruptive and provocative. Adrian Swinscoe made it also very insightful. With regard to Customer experience, frustration is overwhelming, customers want respect, it’s time to rock CX and get some service. Here’s what Adrian is telling us in this podcast recorded live on both sides of the Channel. In this recording, he discusses his approach to customer experience. The idea of being a Punk “is about going your own way, being brave enough to stand out from the mainstream, and not caring about being liked by everybody” he told me. Adrian believes “that this notion [of Punk] exists in all of us in some form or the other and the world needs more of the Punk mindset”. Let’s delve into this wild approach, smash a few guitars and get work done. Go ahead Punk, make my day!
The following transcription of our interview only covers a portion of our exchange with Adrian Swinscoe. Our readers who would like to explore what all Punk CX has to offer can get their copy from Amazon or by clicking the ‘buy the book now’ button.
The introduction to Punk CX talks about Progressive vs Punk Rock. What analogy do you draw here with CX?
To be fair, Progressive Rock had its own followers and is a very popular and influential rock genre in itself. The Punk movement was a reaction to that. Music was becoming increasingly filled with virtuosos, how many keyboards you can play at the same time and all this stuff. On the other hand, Punk was of the view that we don’t need a PhD to play music.
Punk was of the view that we don’t need a PhD to play music
We can just pick up drumsticks and a guitar and start making songs. It made me think about MySpace customer experience and the way it started to exhibit some of the same characteristics as Progressive Rock did back in the 1970s.
It was becoming quite complicated, more interested in itself and its constituents than anything else.
That’s when I started to ponder on what could a Punk version look like. Also, will it help us drive better outcomes with an injection of this DIY, democratic spirit and emotions, and ultimately culminate as a creative force.
You aren’t very impressed with transformation programs. Is there a need for businesses to be ‘transformed’
It is sort of poking the stick at the sacred cow, as it were. Everybody is talking about transformation, yet the data reveals that a lot of people who are doing it aren’t very successful and fail to hit their objectives. Hence, I am of the view that we could stop talking about transformation as we’re not transforming from a quantum state to another quantum state; more often than not, it’s almost a gradual change.
That’s why I was advocating that maybe we should talk about evolution – the thing that’s more likely to get us aligned with changing on a constant basis. A transformation is the same.
Everything is always going to change; it’s not as if it could stop. So why don’t we just get used to the idea that change is the constant, embrace it, and have that power of doing things rather than thinking about transformation?
Consumers want companies to take a stand on the social, cultural, environmental and political issues they care about
I admire companies that take a stand on something, but doing so comes with its own risks that you’re not going to always get things right.
That’s one of the main reasons why people or even brands don’t take stands,
High-quality B2B white papers: 3 tips and 3 pitfalls to avoid
How to write high-quality B2B white papers? the question may seem trivial but is far from simple. To answer it as best we can, we have gathered 3 success factors and 3 pitfalls to avoid at all costs for writing high-quality white papers.
High-quality B2B white papers: 3 tips and 3 pitfalls to avoid
3 tips to improve the quality of your upcoming B2B white papers
Our many years of writing white papers have taught us one thing at least: white papers are a key element of a content marketing strategy in B2B. The download rates of our or even better, our clients’ books and eBooks, the informal feedback we keep having, and last but not least the constant flow of leads we and our clients receive are obvious signs of this fact.
In this post, we’ll take a step back and ask ourselves what turns a plain-vanilla B2B white paper into a high-quality B2B white paper.
No doubt there isn’t a single way of writing a book that makes an impact. But I am convinced that our white papers meet their targets because they are true books, because of the love and high-quality work it implies. More often than not, high-quality work also means hard work.
Tip #1: White paper, colourful stories
Our white papers are all based on testimonials from professionals (a minimum of ten). This is what makes them lively. All B2B experts love to tell about their field expertise, share anecdotes, tell stories. Not all of them are keen on writing though.
Their enthusiastic way of sharing their projects and analyses is welcome by all B2B readers. On the other hand, readers (and among them your prospective customers and customers), like to be told stories.
They project themselves into the stories they read, they ponder over their own pain points and potential solutions while reading the contributors’ questions and answers. What’s surprising in that? We all like to read stories and we all like the stories that tell about ourselves and relate to our own experiences.
That being said, this is not enough. Piling up testimonials has never been sufficient to produce a quality white paper. We, therefore, denounce the myth of the collaborative white paper: collaborative work is nice and should be encouraged. Yet, merely thinking you can outsource all the hard work and reap the harvest others have sown is ludicrous. All testimonials must be put into context, respond to each other, and shed light on the different aspects of a problem. High-quality B2B white papers, in our mind, incorporate an educational dimension.
Tip #2: White papers and evangelisation
A white paper should enable the reader to make a decision: Can this technology be of service to me, in my particular context? How should I approach this or that aspect of my company’s governance? This is why we recommend that a white paper should seek to give a 360-degree view of an issue. The work must be ‘problematized’ [meaning that the subject is scripted in the form of a problem and in relation to its solution].
It must not try and conceal the limits or pitfalls if they exist. Besides, the business embarking on a white paper endeavour will not be looking for a way to sell its technology or its know-how but will use the white paper to instil trust or a community feeling with its readers, through authenticity. Later on, sales will come as a reward for this work, provided it has been useful to those who read it.
It is therefore a question of conducting an investigation with a journalistic approach. Feedback will be highlighted by statistical studies, methodological boxes, explanations of technical or legal aspects. The editors might even highlight contradictions between the contributors’ testimonies. It will be up to the reader to make up his or her own mind, with the help of concrete examples from the companies that have been interviewed.
B2B marketing: are we all potential opinion leaders?
Are we all potential opinion leaders in B2B? Bruno Fridlansky answers in the affirmative. According to him, this holds true not only for digital media but also in real life. Bruno emphasises the aspects that will resonate with those of us who have worked as clients or consultants. The rest of us can benefit from his experience through these tips.
B2B marketing: are we all potential opinion leaders?
Bruno is a leading social selling expert in B2B and especially on LinkedIn and is the author of a number of books on the subject. I have interviewed him on this topic of opinion leadership, of which he is a seasoned expert.
Bruno defines for us who is an opinion leader: “You are an opinion leader from the moment you can speak and there is an audience to listen to you, read you and”, here’s the crucial thing, “enter into a conversation with you”.
This audience may not agree with you, but the conversations you have with them will allow you to convey your vision and showcase expertise.
The notion of expertise is essential for B2B opinion leaders, and when it comes to conversations, he rightly explains that one must talk in terms of the “community” and not the audience.
Here is his full interview captured unmasked and unfiltered during one of his visits to the Visionary Marketing premises in Paris.
Influence versus opinion leadership
Influence is a word which is somewhat overused today in all sorts of ways, whether it’ s B2C or B2B. In a certain way, it could be described as a purchase of human space.
The thought leader is not there to sell directly, but to share ideas, pass on projects, and get employees and partners to buy them
B2B opinion leaders bring together a complete ecosystem. They facilitate the discussion and sharing of ideas.
Thought leadership allows for sharing of information and engaging in a conversation. It has a bidirectional dimension that influence rarely does, because influence is when someone tries to impact others, without themselves being impacted by them. In other words, a good influencer is someone who also knows how to be influenced.
A good influencer is someone who also knows how to be influenced
Opinion leadership, for whom?
To properly implement opinion leadership in organisations, senior management must show the way, and show that employees are trusted and allowed to take on the role of B2B opinion leaders on behalf of their company.
Management must now accept that their employees can speak for the organisation ation. Employees are the best ambassadors for a brand. But for this to happen, they should have a certain amount of freedom to speak and more importantly the confidence and conviction of management backing them up.
Opinion leadership and expertise
Everyone is already an opinion leader, whether you have one, two or three people listening to or reading you, or thousands
Each B2B opinion leader tends to speak to a specific audience. “If I am a CRM expert and I engage in conversations, I will take on the role of opinion leader for people who are interested in this subject,” explains Bruno.
In order to earn street cred, it is fundamental to adopt good practices, good reflexes, multiply the points of contact with the audience, and above all, be a role model.
B2B thought leaders must be exemplary to be credible
If I engage with people on a certain topic, I have to substantiate the credibility on my publishing spaces, personal spaces, social networks, and blogs, and demonstrate that I know what I am talking about.
What does it take to be an opinion leader?
The future of cryptocurrencies may not be the one you think
When it comes to cryptocurrencies, and given the sheer volume of information poured into the media with each tweet from Elon Musk on the subject, it is quite likely that when you ask the woman or man in the street, you discover that they have only one word on their lips: Bitcoin! Yet, my interview with Michel Volle on the occasion of the release of The tectonics of currencies, a collective book published by the Institut de l’Iconomie(*), led me to discover a very different reality. This book, only available in French, depicts a world, which will be ours in just a few years, where cryptocurrencies will top the list, but with one important nuance: the cryptocurrencies that will prevail, according to our economist friend and his writing pals, will not be Bitcoin or Ethereum and even less the laughable Dogecoin, but the national currencies digitised and transformed into cryptocurrencies. A provocative theory, remarkably substantiated, which I invite you to discover through this interview, also available from our podcast channel. As for the outcome, time will tell, but things are moving fast, Michel explains, so we should find out soon enough.
Tomorrow’s cryptocurrencies may not be the ones you know
Important notice: on May 13, 2021, Elon Musk’s about-face regarding Tesla’s acceptance of Bitcoins. While this about-face is justified on environmental grounds, it is quite possible that his motives run deeper. Would this prove the Iconomy Institute right? Until we find out, if you want to invest in Bitcoins, and you’re not afraid of the rollercoaster ride of a pure competition economy, it might well be worthwhile to listen to the statements made by the quirky entrepreneur. For instance as of May 13, the value of the flagship crypto had already dropped by 9%.
cryptocurrencies will rise, but the dollar is King
At the moment, the dominance of the dollar is obvious and excessive,” says Michel.
This allows the Americans to cover their balance of trade deficit by printing paper, as the demand for dollars by citizens all around the world is overwhelming.
According to Michel, our friends from across the pond are “abusing their legal system to bend all those who use the dollar – the whole world – to their geopolitical whims”.
At the moment, no one can trade with Iran, for example, because at some point you will have to use the dollar, which will expose you to very punitive fines.
The dollar is thus, for Michel and his fellow writers, compared to Pangaea in the Carboniferous era, where on the planet there was a gigantic ocean, then a gigantic continent. According to the theory of plate tectonics, as evolution took place, the plates broke apart and this resulted in the continents we know today.
The war is heating up between public currencies. While the commercial and judicial dominance of the dollar has made the world a monetary continent as compact as Pangaea was, that continent could be broken, as if by plate tectonics, into three pieces each dominated by a major currency: the crypto dollar,
Content marketing 2021 statistics: Semrush shows content is truly King
Content marketing statistics are both plentiful and quite vague but a 2021 Semrush survey has shed quite a bit of light on how significant this discipline has become. What is the importance of content marketing, its weight, and its budgets? As I was preparing for a lecture I delivered recently, I asked myself a question: content marketing has been on every marketer’s lips for long — Visionary Marketing has even been around for 26 years — yet how critical is this discipline and what is the weight of this industry? I came across this Semrush 2021 study, which I found particularly interesting, especially in light of what happened during this pandemic. The US SEO company interviewed 1,500 B2B and B2C companies and marketing agencies, mainly in the US but also in the UK, Canada, Australia and India. To a lesser extent, in France and elsewhere. Despite this bias, this study provides some interesting insights, namely with regard to the US where, “no one hires a marketing director anymore unless he is knowledgeable in content marketing” according to Karine Abbou.
Content marketing by numbers: 2021 Semrush survey statistics
Content marketing by numbers with the Semrush Content marketing 2021 statistics
Among the 1,500 respondents interviewed by Semrush, a vast majority consider that they have a content marketing strategy, 11% of which feel very satisfied and 76% of respondents with teams of less than 3 people. Three people is already significant though, even if this number depends on the size of the respondents. 61% measure the ROI of content marketing (I’d say we should take this number with a pinch of salt though, but fair enough…) Interestingly, 89% of respondents rely on organic search via search engines (as an aside, let me remind you that Semrush is a company dedicated to SEO).
The three hard skills required for content marketing are social media (50%), SEO (44%) and strategy (42%). This result is quite surprising IMHO, despite the continued importance of social media in many areas, as social is now less prominent with regard to the dissemination of content, due to the decline in “organic reach”, i.e. the natural reach of social media, due to algorithms.
Essential soft skills
On the soft skills side, we find leadership, which makes perfect sense because content marketing is all about thought-leadership. “Being able to deliver on time” comes next, this is important because I see a lot of companies yearning to become content marketers, but unfortunately failing to deliver anything decent in an acceptable timeframe.
Either they try to deliver “perfect content” and this endeavour tends to last forever, therefore defeating the object of content marketing, which must be delivered in a timely manner. Alternatively, they tend to deliver results that are not really up to scratch too quickly. You have to find the right balance, and it’s not easy, because it requires a lot of skills and it’s not rocket science.
Finally, “solve problems”: this is also very interesting because indeed, one of the great aims of content marketing is to document pain-points and how they can be solved.
Let’s dig deeper and look at budgets that further demonstrate the significance of content marketing
In the United States today, content marketing is considered to be one of the most important budgets, certainly not the most important one, because as we shall see, allowances are still limited which is, in my opinion, one of the major concerns.
Companies are investing a lot in technology, and it’s a good thing.