Precision

Precision questioning is the shortcut to smarter work

Everyone wants to get more out of their team. More focus, better efficiency, less rework, better results, faster decisions, smarter decisions. What if you could get there by sharpening only one skill?

Shitty questions, you’re out. Precision questions, suit up!

Recognizing the symptoms of bad questioning is the first step.

You left a meeting with more new questions than answers. You went back to the drawing board on a project after receiving clarification instead of approval. You met with your team for an hour but you still don’t have the information you need.

Guess what? It’s not them. It’s you.

Clear, focused questions attract concise, targeted answers.

When you lack the best information, you didn’t ask the best questions. Vervago’s Precision Questioning framework is a common sense approach to sharing knowledge. It’s all about getting to the heart of the matter by asking purposeful and directive questions.

These are the five we focus on the most:

We ask go or no-go questions to make for more productive meetings. When a tangent threatens to derail the conversation, decide if it’s really relevant to your meeting’s purpose. Should we tackle this issue right now or take it offline?

We use basic critical questions to make sure our conversations have proper context. Fill in gaps with specific questions where you spot knowledge gaps. What happened to trigger this? When did this start? It’s important to understand unknowns earlier rather than later. Unknowns become action items.

Clarifying questions make for deeper understanding. Find real meaning in vague terms. Instead of asking why something has improved, ask for direct clarity. In what ways did it improve over last time? What does this metric show?

By drilling into root causes, we gain better control of outcomes next time. It’s time to eradicate surface level thinking. Go one inch deeper and watch your team sharpen their critical thinking skills too.

We tee up the best next outcomes with action questions. We have all this great information, now what can we do? What next steps can each person take and by when?

Let’s give these ideas some context.

You need feedback on a presentation deck.

Instead of asking: What do you think of the approach I took with this deck?

Try asking: Do you find the lead-in exciting enough to keep paying attention? Do you think a set of fresh eyes would have enough information about X to make a decision about Y?  Would you change anything specific to make it tell a better story?

You’re leading the charge to define your brand voice.

Instead of asking: How would you describe our brand’s tone of voice?

Try asking: If our brand was a person, what would their personality be like? You mentioned funny, but are they silly or witty? By smart, do you mean intelligent, wise, brainy, or bright? Is their writing and speech formal or do they often use slang?

Your team is analyzing a campaign’s performance.

Instead of asking: Why is this campaign underperforming?

Try asking: Which KPIs are you measuring? Is performance gauged by certain benchmarks or by comparison to a previous campaign? Was anything done differently this time in terms of targeting, budget, bid strategy, or the landing page? Could there have been external factors at play such as the timing (seasonality, holidays, cycles) or new noise within the industry?

Great ideas are regular ideas that have been pressure tested.

In the end, we all want to have great ideas that translate into great work. This doesn’t happen by chance. Better questioning is a skill you can start developing in your next conversation. So when you go home tonight, don’t ask your spouse why they never take a turn unloading the dishwasher. Get to the heart of it and start coming home to an empty dishwasher. What other tasks get in the way of you unloading the dishwasher? Would setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier give you more time? Do you need a refresher on where certain things go?

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Stop! Don’t Talk to a Marketing Agency Without These Things

So maybe you need a marketing agency. Instinct tells you to get a conversation started ASAP. But there are some things you need to be ready with first.

Try prepping with these three things:

Go Beyond Goals to Gaps

In the first conversation, a marketing agency will help define your goals. The best agencies will go one step further and ask questions about your marketing gaps as well.

Talking about marketing goals is important. Don’t get us wrong. But discussing gaps can get to the heart of the most pressing issues. It’ll guide your agency to tackle the things that make the biggest impact.

Have Realistic Timelines

Here’s how an initial conversation with a potential client sometimes goes:

We say: “When would you like your website launched?”

Potential client says: “Yesterday.”

We think: “Okay…”

Good marketing agencies have a process for doing great work. They need to do a proper discovery phase to learn the context of your business. They need to think critically and creatively about proposed solutions. There are cycles of collaborating, pitching, and getting feedback. All of this happens before marketing tactics or assets get launched. Great work needs time to happen.

Try to think of your marketing plans in six-month or one-year increments. Anything shorter and you’ll fall into the trap of thinking only tactically not strategically.

Cultivate C-Level Buy-In Sooner Rather Than Later

The earlier the client gets buy-in from their C-level execs the better. Proposals get complicated when a marketing manager needs a perfect plan before getting approval. But not all of the details need to be set before a top dog says “yes”.

The proposal process works best when it’s iterative. First, the agency will help you flush out the big picture. Then, the marketing manager gets buy-in on the potential objectives, deliverables, timelines, and budget. This is the time for an early check-in with the C-suite. Frame the conversation as an opportunity to gather their feedback before plans are formalized. Nothing has been set in stone yet.

The earlier you engage your execs, the better the proposal process will go with a marketing agency.

If you have these things in place, the proposal process will be a lot faster and more pleasant. In the end, your objectives are more likely to be met, less time will be wasted, and you’re more likely to make and save money for your business.

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Client Servicing: Hitting Deadlines and Kicking Ass

Sometimes when you’re working with a vendor, it feels like you put your requests into a black box. Then you wait patiently for some work product to pop out. We’d like to blow up that black box and shed some light on how we service our clients. A lot happens beyond the weekly status updates to make sure our clients are getting killer creative and marketing.

Every Client is Reviewed First-Thing Monday

Monday at 8:30 AM is when we have a team status meeting. One by one, we go through each client and discuss objectives and deadlines for the week. Every team member hears about every client so that we can mobilize resources without long-winded brief-ins.

Every Task Gets Prioritized

In with our production team, there’s a whiteboard dedicated to the week’s design-related tasks across all clients. Tasks get deadlines, but not just for final delivery. We focus on the most immediate check-in or touchpoint to keep moving things forward. Tasks then get assigned to a team member and put in priority order. Checking items off the list is probably our favourite part of it all. It’s hella cathartic.

Everyone Gets Shit Done

We’ve dedicated an entire day of the week to a zero meeting, zero client call policy. Get Shit Done Wednesdays give us large chunks of time to do big, creative thinking or tackle tough tasks. It’s also the day where we get groups of Stryvers together for working sessions and riffin’.

We Communicate Frequently

Weekly status calls are a given, but we work a lot faster than weekly cycles. We set our clients up with Trello to keep projects moving forward between calls. Sometimes, we’ll even connect on Slack for that instant-messaging gratification. Unlike standard agency or vendor relationships, you won’t wait for us. We tend to be the ones doing the pestering and checking in on progress.

Everything is Iterated and Optimized

We’ve got a non-negotiable meeting booked in our calendars each week dedicated to constant improvement. We bring campaigns and tactics to the meeting and put them up against the critical eyes of the rest of the team. Even if something is performing really well, the question is always: “How could this be better?”

Everything is Open for Discussion

These might be our weekly processes today, but we’re not afraid to change it up as we find better ways to deliver for our clients. We’re proud to have a culture of psychological safety where any team member can bring up a problem and we’ll address it together. The same thinking goes for how we work with our clients. We’re completely open to exploring new processes and technologies to keep us working well together.

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Make Your Company More Authentic in 2017

Let’s get real here for a minute. The internet is overrun with misleading information, cheesy stock photography, and so much noise that it’s almost impossible to stand out in the crowd. Companies are now learning that it takes much more than surface-level marketing retargeting or a quick commercial before a video to get your attention.

Why is this important? Well with all the fake news, filtered imagery, and exaggerated benefits, consumers are demanding change. They want to purchase from companies who are real, trustworthy, and reliable. It’s never been more important to be a authentic. Here are a few small tweaks to make your company more authentic in 2017.

Show off the People Behind the Scenes

A great way to look authentic is to showcase your employees. Companies with a great internal culture often naturally do this. You should consider if there’s a way you could put more of your talented people front-and-center. Give consumers a face to the company they’re working with. You don’t need to create large, drawn-out bios for each team member. A few short sentences, pictures, or  interesting facts can go along way to developing an authentic look.

Say Bye-bye to Stock Photography

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Stock photography is dead. No one wants to visit your website and see the same cheesy posed imagery we’re all used to. Perfect lighting, fake smiles… there’s no personality. Consumers want authentic candid shots that are real and unfiltered. They crave spontaneity and unique shots that they can make an emotional connection with. With the example above, you have your “perfect” stock shot on the left. Everyone is smiling, it’s neurotically clean, and finished off with the cheesy look over the shoulder. On the right is a very different look. You have people caught in the moment, being engaged in their work, and busy work areas. It’s real, raw, and authentic.

Take the time to invest in your photography and set up a photoshoot. You’ll get the exact shots you’re looking for, plus they will be unique to your company which will help you stand out. Don’t have a budget for a photoshoot? Try sites like Unsplash or Death to Stock that provide real, genuine, and candid shots that can help make a significant impact with your site. (extra bonus – they’re free!)

Share Information

Do you regularly blog? Usually blogging involves sharing tips and tricks that highlight your company’s area of expertise. Blogging is a great way to learn about new topics and learn from one another. But why does it just have to be about your industry? This year, try opening the cloak and showing off some of the inner details of how your teams function.

If you’re not ready for that kind of transparency, just look at Tesla. Back in 2014, Tesla released their patents for any company to use their technology in the interest of advancing electric vehicle technology. By sharing information and new ideas with the outside world, you show consumers that you’re constantly on your game and pushing to be better. Who doesn’t want to work with or buy from someone like that?

Create and Share Reliable Content

The internet is plagued with fake news and flawed information. When it comes to creating authentic content for your company, provide reliable and meaningful information for your followers. Don’t just regurgitate what others are saying. Provide insight and deeper thinking on a topic. Provide suggestions or solutions that can help your consumers. Link to your research sources. Adding that extra bit of effort will go along way with your followers.

Even if you’re not creating the content, take a critical eye towards articles that you share. Is it from a reputable website? Is the author credible in the field she is writing about? You can even check out something controversial on Snopes before you make a comment. The key is to be as discerning as your followers.

Do Some Reflecting

With a new year comes new goals. Take those targets and make sure that they’re not going to do any damage in areas like culture and creativity. Envision how you will achieve them and what it means for your career and work relationships. No matter where the search takes you, being more emotionally connected to the company’s goals will make you more authentically motivated. If you’re looking to make one positive change for you and your company in 2017, strive to be authentic.

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Sketchy Digital Marketers are Ruining our Industry

I believe a majority of digital marketing companies are sketchy. That’s right, I said it. Our industry is full of underqualified and self-proclaimed experts. Be weary of anyone that calls themselves a social media expert, AdWords guru or content evangelist. How do we know this? Because our company Stryve has to clean up the remnants of their bad client engagements. Oh we’ve seen it all. AdWords campaigns that were never run. Google analytics accounts that were never set up. Campaigns without tracking codes. Blogs with duplicate or stolen content. Websites that were set up on an obscure, proprietary CMS. Change requests for simple content updates that take weeks and cost thousands of dollars.

We don’t just see the mess, we get the emails from these agencies promising to get us leads or SEO our website for bargain basement prices. It’s not possible to deliver the results they promise at that price in that time frame.

I’ve grown tired of the hucksters, the quacks, and the pretenders. I’m tired of the slick “marketing guy” speaking in clichés about social media strategies or content marketing. He’s probably never run a successful campaign before. I’m tired of all the talk about tactics before objectives. “Let’s do a video.” “You should be on Instagram.”

Here’s the thing. You need a team focused on solving a problem or an objective first. Tactics will follow. But what you need the most is solid thinking.

The Sketch Test

Here’s a sketch test: ask an agency, “Does my company need to be on social media?” If the immediate answer is yes, proceed to karate chop them in the mouth. Make sure you land one right on the kisser.

Our answer to that question is NO – a big fat no. Your company can thrive without being on social. But, if you’re going to do it, do it really well and strategically choose which platforms to invest your time in. Don’t half-ass it. Aim to be the best in your industry at it. Our belief is to do less, but do it better. That’s the answer you should hear.

Same with blogging. We love blogging, but it doesn’t align with every company’s objectives. If you’re looking to amp up SEO and drive thought leadership, go for it. But consider the opportunity cost of your time, if all you’re doing is writing useless blogs no one will ever read.

We Need to Clean Up Our Industry

It’s time to clean up our industry. I don’t have the solution yet, but I’m thinking the technical and creative nature of this industry requires a level of certification. Something that is akin to project management certification. Something that requires continuing education certification. That might not be the perfect situation, but Google Partner certifications just don’t cut it. We need a way to filter out the pretenders and bring a level of professional standards to our industry. If we don’t, we’ll continue to be labelled as hucksters. And that’s not good for anyone.

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How to Measure Psychological Safety in Your Team

What do you think makes a team successful? What separates a high-performing team from an average team? Google worked hard to answer these questions through what they called Project Aristotle.

Their results showed that the most successful teams had specific traits. The number one trait was psychological safety. So what’s the deal with psychological safety? The short answer is that it’s when team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable with each other.

When Google was picking apart psychological safety, they consulted with a Harvard organizational behavioural scientist. She suggested asking employees how strongly they agreed or disagreed with 7 simple questions:

  1. If you make a mistake on this team, it is often held against you.
  2. Members of this team are able to bring up problems and tough issues.
  3. People on this team sometimes reject others for being different.
  4. It is safe to take a risk on this team.
  5. It is difficult to ask other members of this team for help.
  6. No one on this team would deliberately act in a way that undermines my efforts.
  7. Working with members of this team, my unique skills and talents are valued and utilized.

We took these questions and realized that we could use some additional data points. We wanted to see which of these characteristics were consistent across team members and where there was disparity. For example: are there certain people who would never hold a mistake against you? Are there others who would? So we asked each question twice, priming it differently:

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The results let us see the difference between the average for those we’re most comfortable with and those we’re least comfortable with. Prompts that had higher disparity between these two answers pointed to interpersonal issues. Prompts with similar answers were more about our culture.

Why bother measuring psychological safety?

If you’re trying to make your team more successful, you first need a baseline to compare with. A lot of people will think they have a good feel for their team’s psychological safety. But it’s surprising what you’ll learn when you actually measure it. I know I was. Each team member has their own comfort level and communication style, so everyone’s experience is personal. You can’t apply your own feelings to others.

The exercise of analyzing your team’s psychological safety is a pretty eye-opening process. When you’re answering the questions, it makes you think about your feelings and the team’s dynamics. Even though the prompts ask you about how others make you feel, everyone here said they thought a lot about their own actions. So it’s actually a great way to get a head start on making improvements.

What do you do next?

Dive deep into your data. Depending on the results, there may be different ways you want to present it to the rest of the team. Either way, keep the survey and its results so that you can retest and see your progress.

If there are some trouble areas
With psychological safety, it’s really important not to single anyone out. Don’t view this as a problem that needs to be dissected and addressed. Instead, focus your team on new ways of working together. Process, environment, and people all drive feelings of psychological safety. You have to be willing to shake those things up. Have a look at what managers can do to foster psychological safety and get inspired by Google’s re:Work content on teams.

If the results are mostly positive
Highlight your strongest areas and give the team a pat on the back. But don’t get complacent! Our survey showed that we were doing well with psychological safety, but there were areas that were weaker than others. Now we’re picking apart our culture to see what drives these feelings, and ultimately that will help us improve the responses. We’ll know if it’s working because we’ll reuse the survey and compare the results.

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Canadian Marketing Events: Winter Edition

It’s true, winter is coming. But why not make time for some of Canada’s best marketing events of the year? You probably can squeeze it in between drinking hot chocolate, building snow forts, and watching the Toronto Maple Leafs “rebuild”.

The Inbound Marketing Methodology: A New Way to Attract Leads & Customers
Date: December 6th, 2016
Location: Montreal. QC
This workshop will serve as a crash course in the fundamentals and benefits of inbound marketing and provide insight as to how you can use this methodology to increase leads and ultimately boost sales for your business.

Social Media Marketing Workshop
Date: December 8th, 2016
Location: Vancouver, BC
In this one-day workshop, you’ll learn how to plan and strategize your next campaign before delving into reporting and optimization tools.

Media Measurement for Marketers Seminar
Date: January 31, 2017
Location: Toronto, ON
This full-day seminar is intended to serve as a marketer’s blueprint to media measurement and research.  The goal is to help marketers understand industry-accepted tools, across major forms of media, to inform decisions in driving effective advertising and marketing decisions.

FFWD
Date: January 30th – February 3rd, 2017
Location: Toronto, ON
FFWD Advertising and Marketing Week is Canada’s largest and most diverse annual gathering of advertising, marketing and media leaders.  The week showcases the industry’s best in Canada, while offering a forum to highlight new ideas, future trends, and industry discussions.

CMAinsights
Date: February 1st, 2017
Location: Toronto, ON
CMAinsights brings together the science of data and the art of marketing. Discover solutions to issues affecting both the marketer and the data practitioner.

Dx3
Date: March 8th & 9th, 2017
Location: Toronto, ON
Dx3 is an immersive and educational experience that is centred around the changing world of digital marketing and retail. Come and learn from industry experts and interact with the technology that is changing our industries and shaping our behaviours.

iMEDIA
Date: March 10th & 11th, 2017
Location: Edmonton, AB
Whatever your role or industry, iMEDIA covers everything you need to know about the latest trends in social media marketing and other emerging digital media applications.

 

Bonus International Event

MozCon Local 2017
Date: February 27, 2017
Location: Seattle, WA

Join MozCon as they deep dive into local marketing and SEO with industry experts and brands. In this one-day conference, you’ll learn next-level tips and tricks for building citations, creating content, getting reviews, and optimizing for SEO and local ranking factors.

 

As always, give us a shout if you have an event planned in the future that you’d like on this list or if you’re attending some Canadian marketing events that we missed!

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To Do Your Best Work, You Need to be Able to Say Goodbye

One of the hardest things to do is walk away from something that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into. That’s why we see so many TV ads that are only mildly effective, or new product launches that fail to dazzle. Once a company, team, or person has set down a certain path, it is much easier to continue along it than to stop and question whether they’re headed in the right direction. Many never consider the possibility of turning back.

That ‘sunk cost’ mentality is killing your creativity. That attachment to time spent and effort expended is making you mediocre.

It’s Not Quitting or Dodging Commitment

The stigma around abandoning an idea or project is a big enough deterrent that likely 80% of people who landed on this piece have already ran away from it. Joke’s on them though; they’re the quitters. Being willing to walk away takes a lot of guts and a huge commitment to producing the best work possible.

It’s About Being Honest With Yourself

Let’s be clear though; we’re not saying that you give up on every project. Give a project effort, but also step back to be critical of ideas. You might be at the point to do some tough analysis if you’re feeling any of these ways:

You’re not accomplishing the original objective
Despite everyone’s best efforts to plan out a campaign or tactic, sometimes it doesn’t come to life. Once you’ve gotten your hands dirty with a project, it’s ok to admit to yourself and the team that this isn’t achieving what you want it to.

You’ve hit a roadblock and can’t find a way around it
We all get stuck every once in a while. Taking a break or asking for help usually gets things moving again. But if you’ve been putting in your best effort and still can’t find a way to move forward, it could mean that you should head in a different direction.

You’ve lost your passion for the project
All things held equal, falling out of love with a project can be a sign that your work isn’t quite cutting it. Creative professionals are naturally very passionate about producing great work, so if that’s fading, take the time to ask yourself why.

If it’s looking like it’s time to say adieu to a project, use the opportunity to engage the team to dissect what happened and where to go from here.

It’s a Way to Pivot to Something Better

Once the team understands that it’s OK to walk away, it’s time to put it into practice. Productive, analytical discussions are the key and something we’ve been working on. While we’ll be the first to admit that it’s a work-in-progress (and always will be), these are the principles that have helped us:

Recognize that work product is not personal
Detaching yourself from your work product is the first step to being open to the idea of leaving it behind. Keep the passion that gets you fighting for what you believe in, but prepare for others to do the same. When receiving feedback from your team, we all need to work harder to recognize that it improves the outcome. It is not meant to criticize the work you have done.

Encourage others to go deep
Feedback needs to be completely severed from the idea of approval. Too often we’ll ask for ‘feedback’ on a project, but really, we’re expecting a stamp of approval so that we can keep moving things forward. True feedback is a critical investigation into whether the work product is the best it can possibly be. Give your team time to dive in, and prompt them to explain their thinking.

Demand candid conversations
It can be difficult to give feedback to a team member that has been working hard on a project. As the person eliciting the feedback, it’s your job to promote a candid discussion. A great way to start is to point out the areas that you were less confident in. It shows the team that you’re open to the idea that you’re wrong, and they’ll be more willing to tell you when you are.

Leading by example is the surest way you can promote these behaviours. Allow yourself to be open to critical, candid feedback and you’ll see your team members warm up to the idea. It says a lot when a leader can put her work up on the chopping block.

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A History of Hustle: Entrepreneurship and Hip Hop

If you haven’t yet, check out the Netflix Original series, The Get Down. It takes you on a journey through the South Bronx to relive the humble beginnings of hip hop. In back-alleys and backrooms, you get an inside look at DJs and MCs harnessing their craft.

For a hip hop junkie, it’s pure magic.

With shows like The Get Down, it’s clear that the scale of hip hop has changed since its origin. Today, the U.S. Department of State classifies hip hop as a “center of a mega music and fashion industry around the world.” According to Forbes.com, the industry generates 10 billion dollars worldwide.

But in the 1970’s, hip hop artists were ignored and written off by corporate America. Disco was king, and record labels wanted nothing to do with artists who “talked over records.” The first hip hop artists didn’t have access to the resources other genres did. And in the pursuit of hip hop greatness, the entrepreneurial spirit was ignited.

Hip hop created not only a new class of entrepreneurs but artists who were entrepreneurs.

“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business….man!” – Jay Z

It’s all About the Hustle

When you’re an emerging entrepreneur, you have to grind to make things work. Most of the time, you are operating with less than you need. You hustle to pitch people your product and convince them that your solution and industry is worth investing in. You sell, sell, and sell some more.

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Almighty KG of the Cold Crush Brothers

The original hip hop artists had to possess the same hustle and salesmanship. Dan Charnas, author of the The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop explains:

“If there are no institutions, no record companies that support you, you have to basically sell those records out the trunk of your car, you have to learn salesmanship. And since rappers are salesmen anyway, they’re selling themselves on stage.”

Hip hop as a music genre was seen as counter-culture to other genres. This forced the pioneers of the genre to sell both the product (song) they were creating and the infant industry (hip hop) they were operating in. Starting to see the similarities?

Hip Hop and Innovation

Entrepreneurship and innovation are consistently linked terms. It’s imperative that entrepreneurs utilize new ideas to make money and save time. This helps the company stay agile while exploiting every possible angle for revenue.

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Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

Because they lacked institutional support, early hip hop artists had to innovate. They conceptualized new ways to use records on turntables called “scratching.” They sampled tracks and mixed different tones to form new sounds. Spoken-word poetry was layered over strong drumbeats and bass lines. Groups also invented ideas like street team marketing and turning artist merchandise into fashion lines. In such an infant industry, everything they did to progress their brands was innovation.

Fake it ‘Til You Make It

Sometimes when pursuing an entrepreneurial venture, you know you have a great idea. You are supremely confident in your team or your ability to pursue success. No matter what anyone tells you or how far you are from launch, you maintain an aura of confidence and calmness. You hack together a minimum viable product (MVP) and you create the perception that you are a legitimate company, even if you aren’t yet. Hip hop origin stories weren’t all that different.

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LL Cool J, with Cut Creator, E Love and B-Rock

To succeed in the early days of hip hop, you had to believe in your sound until somebody else did. Like an entrepreneur, you had to record a mix tape (MVP) and maintain a mindset of “fake it ‘til you make it.” As Anthony Frasier, co-founder of the Phat Startup explains, even the greats were rapping about luxury before they had attained it:

“They’re rapping about their million-dollar houses. Sugar Hill Gang was rapping about stretch limos and Biggie was rapping about how he went from ashy to classy.”

It was the aura of confidence combined with the ability to deal with failure that allowed hip-hop entrepreneurs to move forward with their ventures.

The Lifestyle is Real

Hip hop isn’t just a genre, it’s a lifestyle. In fact, entrepreneurship functions in the exact same way. Entrepreneurship is something you live, while your product or service is something you do. There is a whole culture and lifestyle that comes with being an entrepreneur, just like there is a whole culture and lifestyle associated with being a hip hop artist.

The hustle, the grind, the innovation, faking it ‘til you make it, these are things that will forever link the origins of hip hop to the entrepreneurial spirit.

“Hip hop is something you live, rap is something you do.” – KRS-One

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3 Marketing Lessons B2B Can Learn From B2C

B2B marketers: Have you ever said, “Those B2C guys have it easy,” or “I wish I could market something as exciting as [insert product name here].” Well, naysayers, we’re here to share a secret: B2B can be sexy too. Smart, sophisticated B2B marketing takes effort, creativity, and sometimes, a little inspiration from our B2C friends. Below we break down three lessons that B2B marketers can learn from B2C.

Start from the Heart

As B2B marketers we tend to market two things: features and benefits. While this may seem like a logical approach, it lacks heart. We need to always remind ourselves that most decisions start from the heart. That’s why we’re firm believers that whether in the B2B or B2C space, standout marketing leads with emotion. For brands that sell consumer goods this may seem like a much easier task, but by leading with emotion (think a strong vision or aspirational statement) B2B brands can create connections and stand out from the crowd.

Airbnb does an amazing job pulling at our heart strings. We love the human element they’ve weaved into their marketing mix. Whether a blog, an Instagram post, or a video, Airbnb’s marketing does more than hawk their properties. It tells an authentic story. This approach has resulted in an insanely loyal brand following and has set Airbnb apart from competitors like VRBO and HomeAway.

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Show off Your Culture

Your culture is something that is completely unique to your business. Sharing that side of your business helps to build and, more importantly, humanize your brand. We love to see B2B brands take a page from B2C by showing off what makes their workplace and team unique.

Ready to show off your culture? Take a note from Spotify. We love their careers page because it’s fun, bold and tells an amazing story. What’s more? They’ve found a way to weave their product into the story. By giving us a sneak peak into life at Spotify they’ve crafted a killer narrative that has us bought into the Spotify brand.

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Take Risks

Corporate marketing doesn’t need to be, well, corporate. Taking risks can pay off big time. Thinking outside of the box can not only boost your bottom line, but also build your street cred inside and outside of your industry.

Too often, especially in the B2B space, we colour inside the lines. Luckily, B2C brands like Cards Against Humanity show us that it’s when you throw out the rulebook, genius happens. There are countless examples of times that Cards Against Humanity broke traditional marketing rules (you can read about them here and here). One of our favourite examples comes from Black Friday 2015, when they brought in $71,145 for literally selling nothing, not even their own product. By thinking differently from every other brand, Cards Against Humanity continues to find success. Don’t fret, we’re not saying to ask your customers for cash (or sell poop), but don’t be afraid to go against the grain, break convention, and take risks!

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