By Earnest, creative director, Matt Frost.
The B2B audience are real human beings. They live the same lives as everyone else and have the same cultural experiences and references as everyone else. They watch television, go to the cinema, read newspapers and even have children. Their emotions, hopes and dreams are the same as everyone else’s.
So why do they have to suffer humdrum communications while at work? They’re still the same people. It doesn’t add up, and is frustrating for the likes of me. And by the way, I’m no advocate of the wacky.
We all know that the most effective way to communicate an idea, service or product is to touch people on a human level. An interesting angle can always be unearthed from the driest of offers. Why do we have to tiptoe round the chewy stuff and apologetically conform to the fall back position of corporate verbiage and corporate wallpaper?
Don’t we want to get noticed; aren’t we proud of what we have to offer? If we all conform to the bland, accepted approach, devoid of any humanity or emotion, we have to rely on sales people to do the job for us. Think of all that static created by their suits, let alone when they pull out a brochure that could be from anyone, oh, except the logo is different.
And while I’m getting things off my chest, why does it have to be a brochure in the first place? Things have moved on. Essentially the lack of creativity out there comes from the scaredy-cat buttock-covering exercise that so much B2B marketing has fallen into.
I guess the mantra is, if you don’t try anything different then no-one can blame you for getting it wrong?
This couldn’t be further from the truth. And the truth is, unless you do try something different, unless you do ‘push the boundaries’ – you don’t stand a hope in hell’s chance of standing out. Striving for average communications won’t just get you an average result, it’ll get you no result at all.
Ah, that feels better; thanks for staying with me through that.
So how do we go about changing things? First, and this is rarely done, get your story straight.
What are you trying to achieve?
What’s your message?
What makes it important, relevant and different?
Who do you want to talk to?
What do you want them to feel/do?
Why should they do this – what’s in it for them?
This may not feel creative but it has to be the starting point.
The next step is to talk to as many of the people involved as possible, whether they are technicians, sales people or the customers themselves. (A side point here, why do most marketing people seem terrified of coming face-to-face with their customers and asking them what they think?)
All this gets you under the skin of the subject and almost by default delivers an approach that is different and will work hard for you. And you’ve done this by simply being rigorous and honest – stress testing whether what you’re saying is actually credible and different.
Too many people skirt round asking themselves tough questions. But if you want results that’ll make your finance director delighted, then this is the only way of going about it.
Now all you need is the bit of magic to convert these insights into something that will trigger a smile, a worry, a change in attitude.
It’s interesting that we see precious few companies are brave enough to do things differently, but these very companies are the ones how are forging ahead and standing out in their marketplace.
We started Earnest to work with these brave organisations. There are some fantastic, world-changing stories to be told, and we love telling a good story.
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