B2B Marketing – Client Service in Communication Agencies

During one of our “Being Client Service” Training Programs we asked the participants (professionals working in the Client Service department of communication agencies – ATL, BTL, PR, Digital) if they have experience in B2B Marketing. One of the participants raised his hand telling that he used to work for a while on a telecom B2B client.

If you think of it, this is rather interesting as all the participants are actually working in B2B. Their clients are companies that need the services their agencies provide. They sell their agencies work to companies, not to the end user. The companies integrate their work into the overall marketing mix and do with it what they want. The clients who are paying their salaries are companies not consumers.

The Client Service professionals from the Communication Agencies are B2B professionals and should also look for learnings, knowledge in best practices from B2B players. One might discover much more similarities between their work and the one done by professionals from SKF or Areva in selling bearings or nuclear plants.

B2B Marketing – The Concepts of “Bounded Rationality” and “Rational Discourse”

Excerpt from the book B2B Marketing – A radically different approach for business to business marketers, Steve Minett; Pearson Education, 2002. Page 63

“Given the complexity of the B2B purchasing process, outlined above, it’s clear that rationality is going to play a more necessary role than is the case in consumer purchasing. This does not however, imply that B2B buying is entirely rational process (indeed, it’s doubtful whether any form of human behavior can be reduced to entirely rational processes). One obvious phenomenon working against this is “bounded rationality”. This, simply, is the idea that no organization, or group or individual within an organization, has the resources (in terms of time, energy, money, and brain capacity) to look at all the possibly relevant information about all the competitive alternatives available – as complete rationality would require.

What happens in the real world is that, at some point (which may vary between individual decision-makers) in the evaluation process, the decision-makers will determine that they have considered enough information to be able to make a decision. What this means, essentially, is that they decide to make a leap of faith from the top of a heap of evidence. This may vary in height from case to case, but it will never be high enough to guarantee a safe landing on the side of certainty.

Another way of expressing this is to introduce the concept of rational discourse. I’m not arguing the crude case that B2B transactions are rational while B2C are emotional. Rather than the blunt word rational, I’d like to suggest the more nuanced idea that “B2B transactions are conducted within a context of rational discourse”. …”

The Business Customer Archetype

Excerpt from the book: “Advice from the Top – The Expert Guide to B2B Marketing.” Business Marketing Association Colorado – 2011. Pages 28 & 29

Rule 1. Companies Don’t Buy Stuff: People Do

Seasoned, successful B2B sales people know that selling is less about the product and what it does and more about identifying the pain point of each and every contact within the organization who needs to say yes, but could potentially say no. Not only do all parties involved need to say yes, but they need to do so collectively.

Go beyond titles and motivations. Think of a person’s inherent function in his / her role: what is his / her archetype:

1) The President, CEO or Owner – Decisions are made on what is best for the company. There are no politics involved or hidden agendas. Decisions are made for the good of the company.

2) The Hired Gun - Brought in to make decisions, implement change, start something new or get something done. Decisions are made to implement change, do something differently or implement something that has worked in the previous place of business

3) The Corporate Ladder Climber – Gets the job done, looks good to the folks above and is burning bridges with peers and subordinates in order to make the “higher ups” happy. Decisions are made if they support his/her agenda and have him / her looked upon favorably

4) The Corporate Coaster – The ultimate “9-to-5′er” who does what is needed to get the job done, no more … no less. “Change is bad” is the key mantra. Do enough to show success, but don’t take on new or risky initiatives. Decisions are made based on keeping the 9-to-5 status.

Football Uniforms

In 2011 we had a 5 weeks project in Rio de Janeiro working with the guys from Iko Poran NGO to strengthen their marketing plan to attract people like you to Rio.

If you are thinking to have a longer vacation in which you combine the fun part with the joy of making a positive difference in the lives of some other people please consider collaborating with www.ikoporan.org. They are great people and could be of big help.

However this post is not about Iko Poran or about volunteering, but about one of the beautiful things we

discovered related to the people of Rio while working there. And to be true till the end, it was not exactly during the work – but during attending some great football games.

We took advantage of the fact that Felipe – the leader of Iko Poran – is a big football fan and joined him in the audience with very high expectations regarding the atmosphere.

Being used with the games from Europe where the fans are wearing at the games the Official Club’s Jersey, we had a major surprise from the moment we stepped into the train that took us to the stadium: a huge crowd of fans, all wearing the colors of their club.

Nothing unusual you might say – except that what we’ve seen was a huge variety of clothing designs.

Dozens of different t-shirt designs made the view absolutely fantastic. All of them developed under the same idea, all of them transmitting the same message to the audience, all of them building the same brand – and still not an uniform.

The people of Rio love diversity and are not comfortable with standardization. It seems that creativity is in their DNA – they always look to create something new. A Brazilian friend told us the story of the Guggenheim Rio de Janeiro Museum Project. When the authorities wanted to open in Rio a branch of the famous museum, the people went to the streets to protest against the project: why do we need a copy of something when we could create something new, something original?

Coming back to the football games, there is nothing wrong with any of the two fan approaches: when Chelsea plays at home the entire stadium is like one. When Fluminese plays, the fans are like one. 

If you think about brands and their approaches, Chelsea is more like Nivea, while Fluminese more like Nike.

The “I AM” Statement

One example from what Jim Signorelli calls the “I AM Statement”: an interesting way to present the target of a brand.

Source: STORYBRANDING – Creating Standout Brands Through the Power of Story; Jim Signorelli, Greenleaf Book Group Press 2012. Pages 18 & 19.

“Hi, I AM your prospect.
Ever since I’ve had enough money to need a bank, I’ve been listening to banks tell me about how much they care, how friendly they are, and how their customers are really, really happy. And I always have the same reaction: do you actually expect me to believe that? And who cares? I sometimes wonder if there’s a bank out there that knows who I am and what’s most important to me.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect the red carpet to be rolled out when I come into the bank. That’s not what I mean by knowing me.
Knowing me is knowing that I expect my bank to get the basics done right. Like an easy-to-read, accurate statement. Like not being put on hold for fifteen minutes when I call in with a question. Like not penalizing me for using an ATM instead of a teller. Those are just some of the basics, the cost of doing business. And if that’s all a bank is doing, then it needs to try a little harder.
Knowing me – I mean really knowing me – is understanding just how busy I am. Show me, don’t tell me that you realize this. Somehow, let me know that you know I have a demanding job, a family, and a relentless to-do list and a number of other pressures I have to deal with regularly.
Knowing me is knowing that banking is not one of my biggest priorities in life. I don’t have the time for a bank that is going to slow me down, so give me some new ideas that will make banking less of a chore. In fact, give me some ideas that will make my entire financial life easier.
And hear this: I don’t care how big you are. I don’t care how friendly you think you are. And I certainly don’t care that you never sleep or that together we can make all my dreams come true.
The solution? It’s simple. In fact, that’s exactly what it is. MAKE BANKING SIMPLER. Stay open late once in a while, or, at the very least, don’t close the same time I leave work. Don’t charge me for using an ATM. After all, you never used to charge me for using a teller. Send me statements I can understand without an MBA in finance. Don’t take up my time keeping me on hold and forcing me to listen to one of your commercials, either. Stuff like that.
Oh, and one more thing: Don’t just tell me you can make my life simpler. Prove it.
That’s it. Thanks for listening.”