Do Your B2B Communications Bore?

On Thursday night last week I scuttled off to talk B2B communications and social media to a bunch of people who work for a B2B company that have twelve offices throughout Sweden. After showing them how social media represents a paradigm shift in the way we communicate, I looked at examples of how other companies working within B2B convey their sense of personality and key competences on the web.

Facebook, Blogs or Twitter?

As I was talking all things social, the majority of my presentation looked at how other businesses use social communications channels in the B2B space.

Looking at a rather dry selection of B2B communications on corporate websites, I complained about how much they were lacking in personality and then contrasted them with a few examples I like including my friends at Arment Dietrich.

I chose to showcase Gini’s sites because they do two things that B2Bs can really learn from. They both

  • show personality and
  • build trust and credibility.

Personality

What I like most about Arment Dietrich’s blog, corporate site, and Facebook page is that they ooze personality. Particularly that of CEO, Gini Dietrich.

On the blog there’s a weekly vlog that shows Gini – cycling gear and all, or maybe a hotel backdrop – answering a crowdsourced question from the Facebook Page. For example:

As I’ve written before, this kind of B2B communications gesture shows that the people that run a company are approachable.
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The Who, Where, Why, What Social Media Marketing Ebook

If you’re a small-to-medium sized business and not sure about social media marketing, here’s a simply put explanation of the who, where, why, what of social media. Enjoy.

Download the Ebook on Scribd.

The Positivity PR Virus

Let’s face it, it takes hard work to be an overnight success. When my novel College.com (sadly, now out of print but available for GBP:0.01 ) was published at the end of the 90s and the Times gave me “Debut of the Week” it had taken me nearly three years of really hard graft to get there.

I remember sitting in my apartment in Copenhagen back in the summer of ’96 slogging my guts out to write with only my Mac and the European Football Championships for company. Everyone else was enjoying one of the hottest summers I’ve ever experience in the Nordic region.

copenhagen positive communication

2 minutes from my Copenhagen apartment


Building a business is pretty much like writing a novel. You forego luxuries and free time whilst you’re doing the hard work and just as many writers fail to place their novel, a lot of companies don’t make it past their first year.

The Long and Winding Road

Even if you do make it to second base and are growing your business slowly by word of mouth, networking, all woven together with bits of duck-tape marketing, there comes a time for a lot of businesses when you’re just not getting noticed anymore. You plateau. Get stuck where you are. And nobody seems to notice you even if you’re desperate for some PR.

Kick-start Your PR

With midsummer a week away, here’s what you should do; grab hold of some of that sunshine energy and give you and your business a great shot of positivity. Positivity can be infectious and spread like a virus to your client base.

Why not:

  • Send off a handwritten postcard – not a flyer, pretending to be a postcard, mind! – to 10 former clients wishing them a great summer!
  • Send another ten tickets to an exhibition or an open-air theatre performance
  • Dare yourself to do something different with audio or video on your business blog (just like the super-positive Gini Dietrich did this week).
  • Suggest coffee and ice cream at a great downtown café with a valued customer to simply chew the breeze before the holidays
  • Give away a free book (like Danny Brown) did last year so someone can read on the beach this summer

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Liverpool FC Are a Brand with a Communications Crisis

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I love two things: my four basset hounds and Liverpool football club. Thankfully the woofs are fine, but Liverpool FC are in an utter mess. Sunday’s defeat to Chelsea condemned us to one of the worst seasons I can remember in a lifetime of following the Reds.

liverpool fc

You'll never walk alone

It that wasn’t bad enough the British and Swedish press have been savaging Rafa Benitez, the club’s manager, left right and centre; it seems that every time my RSS feed updates there’s more speculation that Rafa is going / staying / having a tantrum and that the club is about to implode under the burden of financial debt.

Caught in a Media Firestorm

Following Liverpool fans on Twitter, Facebook, and in various online forums you can see that speculation is mounting about what’s going to happen. Worse than all the rumours is the overriding feeling of frustration at the secrecy and lack of openness coming from the club. Even players like Yossi Benayoun and Lucas Leiva have publicly admitted the players are frustrated at being in the dark.

Following a season of boardroom shenanigans and poor performances on the pitch with practically the same team that finished second in the League just 12 months ago, the club needs to hold its hands up, admit its mistakes and communicate clearly how it expects to turn things around.

The club has one of the most popular football websites on the web, but unfortunately it’s not making use of the web to engage with its fans. The official Liverpool FC website makes no mention of the problems and has the feel of a poor marketing ploy to sell more replica shirts with plenty of glossed pics of fan favourites Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher than placate its anxious fans who’ve stood by club and manager all season.

Frankly, this is a prime example where social media should be used to build bridges and lift the gloom surrounding the club and ultimately the brand.

Imagine Rafa Benitez appearing in a vlog or YouTube video, talking directly to fans, admitting the frustrations of the campaign and outlining where he hopes things will go. A sense of passion and determination could lift spirits, and meet some of the detractors head on.

Even if Rafa leaves the club, as many commentators seem to think, it would be refreshing to see a manager talking directly to the fans about his motives for leaving instead of mediating his position via the media, who level their own commentary and agenda on top of everything they print.
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Five Things to Do Now #1

When was the last time you jumped off the edge ? Think differently about the way you communicate!

Go on. Jump off the edge. Try something new.

1. Get five of your smartest people in a room and put the following scenario to them. You have to improve the way you communicate with customers in the next three months. Ask them to work out how you could do it.

2. Bring a small team of your brightest people together. Ask them to compare the way you communicate with your customers compared to your biggest competitors. Then ask them to present what they learned.

3. Be creative. Remember how texting completely changed the way we communicate in recent years. What new ways that you haven’t imagined before could help you talk to employees, customers, each other?

4. Conduct a round-table discussion with your staff, discussing response times to customer queries. Remember customers want instant responses to their questions nowadays. How could your team cut 20% off response time and give better quality service?

5. Create a template in your email application that includes your regular salutation (greeting), close (Very best wishes) and signature.

Image:FlickrCC