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Andrew Penny, April 28 2020

Emerging Mullets and Grey Roots

A friend in Florida, Tim Parkin, runs a consulting business advising marketing departments on how best to increase their productivity. He is steadily growing his business – despite the work from home advisories and lockdowns (hey, isn't that a prison term?) He of course is leveraging social media to create new awareness and new contacts. He wants to connect with CMOs. Google Ad words is the logical first step which worked reasonably well. Next of course was that B2B standby – LinkedIn. Again – it was OK. Then, as a true experimenter and innovator, he gave Facebook a shot. And it turned out to be hands down the most effective channel – better quality contacts, lower cost per acquisition and more of them. Facebook as the B2B channel of preference? Who knew!Guess what – we’re not in Kansas anymore. So many of the ‘old’ ways of thinking and operating have come unglued. Most of us have figured out how to operate in limbo as it were. We are dealing with uncertainty and learning how to be flexible again – yoga for the mind.

In the spirit of agility and adaptability it’s a great time to look in the mirror and see if what you are presenting is appropriate for how you are operating – and plan to operate. I’m not talking about your emerging mullet, expanding grey roots or the path you’re wearing ‘tween desk and fridge. I’m talking about your digital presence.

There are tons of experts who can advise you far better than I on how to fine-tune things. What I’m talking about is the obvious stuff that we all overlook until someone points it out.

Let’s start with websites.
Does it say what you do, who you do it for and why you are better than the alternatives? Maybe not explicitly but a visitor should be able to infer this. It can be done through words, fonts, tone and images. Have a look at your toughest competitors – I’ll bet they are lagging in this area too. Next, play secret shopper. Pretend you are the decision maker from an account you’d like to close (let’s call her Grizelda). What path would she follow on your website? Is that what you want her to do? Ask someone outside the company to do the same thing. You could even ask Grizelda… New theories on how our logical minds and emotional minds process information can be very helpful here in guiding your target visitor’s journey.

If you are having trouble with this, it’s not the website, it's likely clarity around who you sell to (and who you don’t) and how you help them achieve whatever it is they do. You may also lack clarity around your core purpose as a company – without which it almost impossible to hold perspective.Many websites are screamingly out of date and their most recent “News” came literally from the last century. Is your About page up to date? Are your case studies up to date. If you have blogs or posts – when was the last one?

A website is a process not a publishing event. We publish new content every Tuesday. Some weeks its easier than others … well… truth be told I’m writing this on a Monday. But we have a process and it forces us to stay fresh. Perhaps more importantly, it forces us to think about the issues of the day for our target market. Let me know if you’d like me to talk you through our process.

Moving on. LinkedIn
It’s safe to assume that any B2B relationship passes through LinkedIn. What does your picture look like?  It’s your first impression so get it right (or at least good enough). And ask a friend – we are all too subjective. Is your profile dead or alive? Have you posted anything in the last 3 months? Have you at least shared something interesting? (Interesting to whom? – your target market?)And what about your corporate LinkedIn page? Is it safe, corporate and boring? Or have you taken a position of some sort? A position relevant to the types of people you care about – your target market.

Those are the must haves.  These are for bonus points.

As I mentioned at the start, habits are changing. Executives are not in back-to-back meetings anymore. They have time to explore and graze on information. This may explain Tim’s surprising success with Facebook. So, what are you saying on Facebook? Do you have a corporate page there?  In our B2B work we often hunt for people’s Facebook profile to better understand who they are and how best to work with them.  What’s yours like?  Is it who you want to be when you are not “at work”? 

Do you use Facebook to connect with potential buyers? Facebook’s targeting ability is scary good and can really help you advertise to your target market.

Do you use video to promote your ideas and your business?  YouTube is the most popular place to post your videos and is the second most commonly used search engine (after Google). Then you can link to them from your website, your LinkedIn posts, your newsletters and so on.

A special note on content.
People call it digital marketing but for most B2B companies it’s really content marketing.  A single piece of content can be a blog post on your website, a newsletter sent to your mailing list (you do have a mailing list don’t you?) , a LinkedIn post (corporate and all employee profiles), a Facebook post, and with a few minutes work, a YouTube Video and a Podcast.

Our approach to content is to develop a theme and then break the theme down into 5-10 ‘episodes’ and then assign who writes what. Let me know if you’d like me to talk you through the process in more detail. 

So, as Pete Townshend said in ‘78 “Who are You? I really wanna know.” Or perhaps a better question for today is “Who are you, now?” 

Our current limbo state gives us a fantastic opportunity to rethink, re-invent and rebound our businesses. 

So, seize the day, don’t overthink it – be like Nike….


While you are updating your digital presence, you may also want to have a look at our 5-Step Rebound Plan.  Not for everyone, but great for companies who want to invent their own futures.  Let me know if you’d like to chat

Written by

Andrew Penny


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