This weekend I was reading an article in the Washington Post (http://wapo.st/1wb2I9p) about Hillary Clinton that forced me to ask…what can a business-to-business operation learn not only from consumer marketing but even from a politician?Evolution: Clinton is preparing to present herself to us, the voting public, in her 5th role. First lady-Senator–Presidential Candidate 1.0-Secretary of State- Presidential Candidate 2.0, and that's if you do not consider her previous public roles. What it clearly defines for me as a B2B marketer is that we should not be so afraid of failure and or change. My instinct would be that to evolve through so many personas’ one might be called schizophrenic. I would not advise a client to change so much. It creates distrust every time you redefine how you want me to see you. Who are you, really?
But then maybe a company the sells to other companies should learn to be more responsive to the marketplace situation and the needs of the buyers. B2B lives in a slower changing and slower to adapt space, but should it? Perhaps the balance is something short of always changing and something more than never changing.
Authenticity: Since we mentioned authenticity, let’s develop it a bit more with a focus on B2B. Authors Philip Rucker and Anne Gearan wrote, “In politics, authenticity can be a powerful trait, and it is one that sometimes has escaped Clinton. In her 2008 presidential campaign, despite some raw displays of emotion, she often came across as overly programmed.”
B2B can tend toward the programmatic when it tries to adapt the modern technologies of CRM (customer resource management) and MAT (marketing automation technology) systems. Programmatic is however much better than what a typical B2B companies does…improv. In the sales driven culture of most B2B firms, sales rules the day and personality and relationship lead the way. In the programmatic model, technology can bring to bear a focus a firm’s brand value. On the company, not the salesperson’s charisma.
Authentic is what gets lost in the process of personality and a position changing to often or in technology being to rote. Authentic should come from a core set of values that express themselves consistently. Adapting in expression not adapting to the expedient, which clearly is a problem in politics. I was glad to read in the article, “Her only hope, to me (Fred Davis-R, ad guru), is not a rebranding, but it’s actual policy positions and ideas that are fresh and new” This is it. This is what B2B must learn. Authentic is real and comes from ideas and taking positions.
Promise: Finally, one big idea. If you want to do something hard but powerful, take your firm and define its promise with one word, one idea. Hope and change, for example. OK three words. Dare you. Hilary will do just that. Her team of Madison Avenue minds will craft a few words that we will all be able to hang onto and understand. That will attempt to draw us to action! Refresh and redefine is the big deal today, no? Fast food chains, politicians, your firm? What is your promise?
So maybe Hillary 5.0 can teach us in B2B sales and marketing. Do you think there is value in watching and trying to learn?
- Are you scared to evolve?
- Are you authentic?
- What does you firm promise?