A manifesto should be something that motivates and inspires you as well as others. It should be a guide for your beliefs and values that you want people to know. If you search for “B2B Manifesto” you’ll come up with very little. The exception is some great work done by Velocity Partners and their B2B Manifesto ebook. I keep my own personal and professional manifesto with me at all times in my Moleskine. So, I thought I’d put together my own manifesto for B2B communicators. Let me know in the comments what you think and what you would add (and be sure to read the Velocity Partners ebook).
A Manifesto for B2B Communicators
Understand your customers’ needs.B2B customers have longer sales cycles and typically make large investments when they buy from companies. You need to make sure you understand their needs. What are their pain points? What do they want from your company Why do they like your competitors? Research is key and a must investment, but make sure you do something with it. And at every conference and trade show take time to talk with them about their business and what would make their job easier. Think of three or four questions you would ask every customer you meet, and then ask them whenever you have the opportunity.
Stop comparing B2B with B2C communications. B2B and B2C companies are not alike so stop trying to figure out how to build a viral video or be the next Oreo campaign. Yes, there is plenty to learn from B2C companies and their communication efforts, but the work B2B marketers do is very different. There’s a wealth of B2B information to read to keep you focused and thinking: From B2B magazine to a long list of B2B marketing blogs and B2B sales blogs. Subscribe to them.
Do awesome things. Just because you won’t have an award-winning Super Bowl ad or invest in giving every product a personal name (e.g, Coke), you can still do something amazing. And it doesn’t have to cost you your entire budget. A lot can be said for being passionate about your job. Be proud of your work. Think big. Try to push the envelope. When you do awesome things people take notice, and they can tell you put a lot of work into it. But just because you are a B2B company doesn’t mean you can’t do awesome work.
Understand digital. You don’t have to use it. In fact, you never have to log onto Twitter or Slideshare or Stocktwits. But you need to understand how they can be leveraged to your brand’s benefit. You also need to realize that your competitors are using them to take advantage of you. If you don’t want to do it, find someone on your team who will. We are at the point where digital is just a part of a campaign (no longer just a separate digital campaign).
Take the long view. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all of your current projects, but take time regularly to track your progress and assess where your communication efforts are going. Where will you need to invest? What resources will you need? How is your business shifting? If you want inspiration go and take time to talk with your heads of products and research and ask them these questions. The investment in those relationships will pay off.
Build relationships. Not contacts. Speaking of relationships. As much as you need to understand digital, the world is analog as well. Invest in personal relationships, which means you have to make time to meet people, both internally and externally. This includes your vendors. Make sure you find and build the relationships that matter to your brand. This is an investment in time that will payoff in many ways.
Change is going to happen. So how are you going to deal with it? Do you embrace change? Here’s a question to help you answer that: How have you done during the past few years handling digital? As a B2B communicator you can learn a lot from what your competition is doing. Benchmark how they have reacted to change and see how you compare. There are more changes on the way — the influence of big data, mobile platforms, economic changes and more. You can’t be ready for them all, but you will need to be able to react.
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